When a Critic Calls

There’s a critic around every corner. I’m noticing this even more now that I’m writing. When growing up I was always challenged about everything I did. As a result I felt like I’d done something wrong and I had to apologize for it. Today I feel like I’ve had a great life. But issues come up I want to write about. Like dating. I always thought I’d find someone easily after my husband died, but I haven’t. Also my roommate is very critical of what I eat. I’m not accustomed to someone telling me how to eat. I mean I’m almost 80 for crying out loud! I’m maybe 10 pounds overweight tops. If I wanna eat a chicken pot pie I’m going to! And I’ll eat the whole thing.

Last week I wrote what I though was a very honest story about not feeling well and how NYC came in an helped me. As soon as we published it the phone started ringing. People from my job were cautioning me that I could be fired for revealing I wasn’t feeling well in a public way. They thought my supervisors would read I was sick and then fire me! It’s absurd when you think about it and I imagine illegal. But to be honest, I got scared. I went back to my owl self and immediately felt like I’d done something wrong. So what did I do? I deleted it.

I believe in communication. I believe in exchanging ideas. There’s not always a thin line when people are being critical. Criticism is what people accuse teachers of doing. When you really look at a situation and try to  understand where they are coming from it leads you to a place of empowering that person to do well.  I think you can lead by example instead of criticizing. If you don’t understand something or feel afraid of something that’s uncomfortable, instead of shunning it try to talk about it with the person. My coworkers were clearly afraid when they read my story. They don’t like thinking of me going through such an awful and embarrassing experience but these things happen to all of us! Not acknowledging it doesn’t make these things go away and if my story made them feel something then mission accomplished.

I grew up in a family where there was a lot of competition. I was picked on a lot as a kid so I’m very sensitive to that and I have to know that. I have a tendency to want to please other people. But perhaps I’ve pleased enough people at 80 years old and the only person left to please is me.