My internal battle between wanting to play it safe and wanting to live a creative life is a long one.
My first recollection came in Junior High. I wanted to be a writer and so I joined the journalist staff. But very quickly I realized that I did not want my writing critiqued and so I changed my mind.
In college, I wanted to be an interior designer. A History of Furniture is still one of my favorite college courses of all time. As enthralling as lecture time was, when it came to my personal designs being critiqued, I hated it and ultimately fled. My defense was always “how can something with no right answer, be wrong?”
In most areas of life I handled criticism pretty well. Professionally I used the only time I ever got fired, the worst criticism imaginable, to grow and become a better version of myself. On a personal level if a friend or lover criticized me, I often mulled it over in my head, dissecting how much truth there was in it. Discarding the useless bits but holding on to the true parts, using them to try to do better.
But creatively I just couldn’t take it. So I settled for the least creative degree imaginable in Information System Security. A degree that 8 years later, I have never used.
Over the years, as my passion for baking, crafting, scrap-booking, party planning, decorating, writing, & photography developed, I noticed that they all have a common thread of making things beautiful. I also noticed just how happy I am when creating. So after years of the same internal question “what do I want to be when I grow up?” I found a home in Living Darling, an outlet for all of my creative passions.
Working on Living Darling has been exciting and joyful . But it has also been overwhelming. The learning curve is immense and I have so little free time between work and family life.
Unsurprisingly, my imagination went wild, taking on the form of various hero lifestyle bloggers and designers that I admire, each of them questioning things like my authenticity, uniqueness, and style.
With each blog post I swept these fears aside and kept moving forward but unfortunately they persisted. Slowly chipping away at my motivation and excitement. Until last week when I stumbled upon a forum devoted to bashing one of my favorite bloggers.
It was shocking and confusing. But like most figurative train wrecks, it was hard to look away. I spent a couple of hours reading through 6 years of post, searching for a truth that I had maybe missed after all these years of admiration. I kept trying to reconcile my version of her blog with this one. Was I wrong to love her work? Was she really such a monster? I went back to her blog and her Instagram and then back to these horrible comments. I finally realized that it came down to jealousy. Jealousy of her success, of the picturesque life she has curated, of her hustle.
I spent days thinking about this forum, shocked that one of my favorite blogs could inspire so many vitrolic comments. Then I remembered this quote by Theodore Roosevelt
All at once I felt a huge flood of relief at the inevitability of criticism. We live in a world full of critics and a vastness of diverse opinions. There is no escaping someone who thinks they could do it better.
The horrible things I found on that forum were being said about a highly creative, successful, talented blogger and will most likely be said about anyone who puts themselves out there in the arena.
In hind sight, I wish I had developed a thick skin early on and accepted that criticism has its place. That while being vulnerable to criticism sucks, there are much worse places to be like those “cold and timid” sidelines.
From now on I plan on throwing myself out into the arena and I can only hope that one day I will have done that enough that people will take the time to critique my work. Whether I know victory or defeat, here is to daring greatly.