Last week, I wrote about the experience of returning home after dropping my first-born child off at college. I felt a little raw while writing it and so many of you shared your personal stories in the comments. Thank you for that.
But I got this one comment on my Facebook page that was kind of a slam, telling me to grow up already.
I was recently a guest on Elise Blaha Cripe’s podcast, Elise Gets Crafty, and we talked about negative feedback, both how we are surprised by it and how we try to handle it. Also, how it’s just part of the territory if you write publicly about your life.
Not everyone is going to like you. Yes, that’s a box I reluctantly checked off when I signed up for this gig.
I used to think that I just needed thicker skin so that the negative comments didn’t feel so much like a sucker punch. As I shared the story on my personal Facebook page, one that I just keep for family and friends, one of my friends, Paul, said this:
As creatives, we do best when we can easily access our emotions in order to use them in our creative endeavours. We need a thin skin. At the same time, creatives need to share and put their stuff out into the world which means you also need a skin thicker than a rhino to deal with feedback. Not too hard to see why anyone with creative talent goes round the bend trying to have both.
I had never thought of having a thin skin as something I need to do what I do. To write. To create. To live.
And I’m kind of tired of going ’round the bend to try and have both.
I don’t want thicker skin.
I want it to be thin. I want it to be porous so I can let life in. So I can let it touch me. So I can soak in experience and learn about others as well as myself.
I’ve talked to my therapist about negative comments and she’s helped me to understand something that I am starting to actually believe: they are not about you. They are about the person who leaves them.
Maybe the person who leaves them is going through something really hard in their lives and a negative comment will help them to feel more in control of the pain.
To pass a judgment and to roll your eyes feels good. It feels good to know everything.
I say this from years of practice.
I could write volumes about trying to control pain via negative behaviors and wanting to feel good all the time.
So here I stand with thin skin.
If you can see my veins and connect to my words, then I’m golden.
And if you don’t, I still have something to gain from it.
Hot damn. I might be growing up after all.