Last night I had a really amazing time sitting in at a friend’s event down in San Diego. I went away from it feeling content with the progress I’ve been making as I practice and work hard each day as part of my Project 365. Many of my efforts are starting to show in my playing and that’s incredibly gratifying.
This morning I woke up re-energized, motivated and with a plan of action on how to tackle my practice time today in order to prepare for the next performance (which is on Thursday). I was feeling inspired and ready to seize the day.
But then I checked Facebook and I saw this:
*cue sound of screeching tires*
One of the hardest things about being a public figure (and especially an artist), regardless of how “public” that may be, is opening yourself up to criticism. When you put yourself out there, you give others the opportunity to say things like “she sucks.” But you also create the opportunity to connect with others through your art and that makes it all worth it.
But it still hurts.
This isn’t the first time I’ve received that kind of attention, and it probably won’t be the last. I’d hope that one time I’d develop thicker skin and comments like that would just blow past me, but they don’t. It hurts every single time.
I am an artist, a composer, a musician, but I’m also a person. A human being. I have real feelings and those feelings can get hurt just like anyone else.
Don’t get me wrong. I love criticism. Well, constructive criticism. It keeps me on my feet and helps me remain aware of areas I can improve upon, what I do that people like (or don’t like), and it guides me in the right direction. And yes, sometimes that hurts to receive, but the blow is lessened with the suggestion of how to improve.
Here are some pieces of criticism that I’ve found helpful:
- “You play really great, but it doesn’t look like you’re having fun. You need to smile more!” Point taken. I agree. I sometimes look like a deer in the headlights on stage. I don’t always know what to do with my hands. What do I do with my hands?! Smile more. Move more. Don’t stare at the microphone when you play. I can do that or try to.
- “You need to work on your time.” Alright, where’s my metronome?
- “I just don’t like the way she holds her sax.” I’m not quite sure how could hold my sax any differently, unless it’s the photos where I’m not playing, but it gives me something to think about either way.
And then of course, there was this Amazon review which initially freaked me out but also inspired me to focus on the saxophone for my next album.
But the difference is in the fact that each of the above criticisms gave me something to think about. They told me why they didn’t like my playing or why they didn’t like my photos.
“She sucks” does nothing but hurt. It doesn’t give me anywhere to go. I’m also pretty sure that this person was not at the performance last night. I also have a sneaking suspicion that this wasn’t the first occasion he’s taken the time to write a comment in that spirit on my Facebook page. I seem to remember seeing his photo before.
Everyone has the right to their own opinion, yes. I’m sure he’s not the only one who thinks I suck. That’s okay. I’m also positive that’s not going to be the last time I hear/see something along those lines.
So then what’s the point?
I wish there was one. I wish I could inspire people to be more positive and uplifting (or to keep their thoughts to themselves when they don’t have anything positive or uplifting to say). We’d all live in a better world for it.
I know, however, that this post probably won’t make that kind of impact. It’s not as eloquent as Le Clown‘s post based on a similar experience and most people probably won’t even get through this entire entry. I accept that.
But, if you are one of the few who gets to the end, I’d like to ask something of you.
Tonight when you get home from school or work or where ever, take your loved ones aside – your wife, husband, mother, father, sister, brother, son, daughter – and tell them that you appreciate them. Tell them something you admire about them. Something that you appreciate them doing. Something that you know they’ve been working hard on. We all need a little bit more positivity in our lives.
And then, if you’re up to it, I’ve written two other posts on something similar – one here and one on Teen Jazz…
No One Can Be a Better You (on Teen Jazz)