Successfully Dealing with Criticism from Your Worst Critic

Posted By Mandi Lindner on Jun 20, 2013 | 0 comments

Last weekend was the 125th anniversary of my adopted hometown’s fantastic art museum. They just debuted a new show called 30 Americans, a moving, inspirational, often breathtaking show by 30 African-American artists. I went by myself to experience the exhibit and, like I usually do, I let my personality join me and ended up pairing my nerdy with my snarky. You see, I tend to read all of the little plaques accompanying the pieces, but then my snarky side kicks in and is unable to help pointing out how pretentious it all sounds.

It reminds of watching Murphy Brown as a small child. I barely remember that show, but I do remember one episode where Murphy hangs a finger painting by her son (Avery?) in an art gallery to see what happens.

People. Went. Absolutely. Wild.


Contemporary Art? Or Preschool Art Class?

Unable to tell the scribbles of a toddler from that of a professional artist, those attending the gallery opening gave rave reviews to Avery’s “work of art.”

Creative works sometimes feel like that don’t they?

Creating can sometimes make you feel like you are that child stumbling around in a professional’s world.

One of my more fun jobs is writing for the Alcoholmanac. Every issue there’s a short break in booze for me to write about food and booze. I enjoy food writing. I haven’t studied Zagat ratings nor do I try to emulate idolized food writers. Instead I write what I feel, what I taste, what the chef said to me, what we talked about as a table, and any tidbits I pick up in the course of my research regarding ingredients, history, and culture.

I don’t think I’m always the most articulate. Sometimes I feel like a fraud.

The other night I had a dream that everyone was laughing at me and criticizing my writing. I wasn’t articulate enough. I didn’t use enough descriptors or adjectives (don’t food writers usually use a lot of adjectives)? My metaphors were mixed. I didn’t properly understand flavors or spice. My fact checking was horribly awry.

I woke up horrified and embarrassed. Luckily those feelings faded as I awoke and realized it was all just a dream  (until the next issue comes to print anyway).

My point being that we all have feelings of inadequacy. Especially when we fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others. The good news is that there’s hope.

“I’m my own worst critic and I think everyone in the band is a perfectionist.”

Adam Jones, Tool

Most of the time we are our own worst critics. We think that everyone else in this band of entrepreneurs, writers, artists, etc are doing bigger, better, greater things. We wonder why we can’t keep up or why we’re not as successful.

The truth is that success is a state of mind. Yes, there’s making money, being famous, and the like, but what I’m trying to say is that success is in your head. You can choose to be happy with what you’ve accomplished. You have the greatest effect over the amount of success you achieve…however it is that you define “success.”

I may never be a food writer for Food & Wine magazine or the New York Times. But when I write, I write to please myself. I write to entertain myself. I’m not that unique or strange or amazing…surely by entertaining myself I’ll end up entertaining others, right?

That is where I hope your success is as well.

(Meanwhile I will try to limit my snark at the art museum and realize that viewing the world in a different way does not always equal pretention)

What do you think?