I’ve never really identified as a critic.
I think I’ve always felt like critics are characters that show up at the end of a long battle just to kick the wounded.
I do however have refining tendencies.
It sometimes feels like it’s against my will, like I’m forced to see the way things could have been better if only one tiny thing were different. I’d much rather be the one showing up at the end of the battle well aware of all of the hard work that’s gone into getting to that point already. Then, I’d patch up the wounded before whispering kindly to them how they can avoid that same fate if they just tweaked one thing when they do it again the next time. Or maybe I hand them some secret ointment that will heal their wounds much more quickly?
There are times when my delivery doesn’t feel right or when I don’t say anything at all and they honestly feel equally unsatisfying. Whether I’m digesting words that I wish I hadn’t said or chewing on words that never left my mouth it’s a clear moment of dissatisfaction. I know that a gentle but honest sharing of what I notice has always been the best response. But, it can get cloudy.
I’m also aware that I don’t know everything and I’m not always the best at receiving the refining that feels so easy for me to dish out. I have a love in my life that is amazing at receiving refining feedback. He takes the pieces that feel accurate and leaves the parts that don’t. He is constantly growing and changing and bettering himself. I watch him and I yearn to be the same. To make the tiny changes that will ultimately make me the person that I’ve desired to be all along. To also make my art and my business practices the best that they can be.
I can certainly do my best to close my eyes and step outside of myself, to pretend that my work, my life and my art are not my own and look for the tiny things that could make them better. But, wouldn’t it be simpler and more complete if I trusted the voices of those that I love and respect to tell me what I could be doing better?
That would just mean a season of humbling myself. Of asking for refining voices and making my heart available for molding. It’s not an easy task, but, likely a necessary one.
As the New Year rolls around, I’m challenging myself to listen when refining voices come my way and to speak gently when I have thoughts for someone else. I can only hope that 2016 will be a year of humility, grace, gratitude and growth.