Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Everyone's a Critic

I have a very hard time taking criticism. I am ridiculously thin skinned, overly sensitive and I take everything personally.

When my husband says something like "Wow, the baseboards need to be cleaned." Do I say "Oh, you're right. Maybe we can do that this weekend."? NO! I say "Well, I am so sorry I am not keeping the house up to your standards! It's not like I cook and clean and raise three kids! It's not like I don't pick up after you people all the time! When the hell would I have time to clean the freaking baseboards?"

Yeah. A little sensitive.

Even when faced with helpful criticism (the dreaded 'constructive criticism'!), my instinct is to do one of two things: argue it, or take my ball and go home.

That blog entry was a little harsh. 
Really? I don't think so!
Well, you know, there may be people who would be offended by that. Maybe if you led with...
Oh, please! It's hyperbole! It's for effect! People know that. They're not offended! YOU DON'T KNOW!

Can you even imagine what I might do if I ever wrote something for someone else, and they tried to edit it? My GOD! Did you edit my ellipsis? Did you FUCK WITH MY ELLIPSIS!? What is wrong with it? It's grammatically correct! It's for effect! What are your credentials? You call yourself an editor! WHY DON'T YOU LIKE ME?

Or, I simply bull up, start crying, and issue ultimatums.
I will never use an ellipsis again.

If I were an armchair psychologist, I might say that it's because I am my own worst critic, and that I rely on outside praise to bolster my self worth. When I am criticized, I feel devalued. But that sounds like bullshit, so we'll just go with I am kind of a brat and in this very specific way, I need to grow up.

It is hard sometimes to separate a person's opinion of your actions with a person's opinion of you. I say it to my kids all the time - I love you, but I don't like what you are doing. If they can look at me, and trust that what I am saying is the truth, why can't I manage to do the same? If my husband says the ceiling fans are dusty, why can't I say "oh, indeed!" instead of being convinced he thinks I'm a horrible housekeeper? If someone makes a lighthearted joke about my love of italics and parenthetical commentary (it's awesome!), why do I think they're saying I'm an awful writer?

Taking criticism is kind of like taking a compliment. Sometimes it's best to just smile and say "Thank you." I'll have to work on meaning it.


  1. I know your pain. I'm a freelance proofreader and editor. When one of my suggestions is ignored, I'm thinking Well why did you ask for my opinion if you were just going to ignore it?

    Maybe we should try "thank you" with the unvoiced footnote: "Thank you for your unsolicited opinion." Everything goes better with snarkiness. *grin*

    And Blogspot ate this comment the first time I tried posting it. Everyone's a critic.

  2. Tell your hubby to clean the damn baseboards if they're bothering him. lol He knows what to do with the white glove. lmao

  3. Oh my. You just described me to a t. I'll ask my husband how a new recipe is and he'll say good, but then (trying to be helpful I suppose) he says, "oh you know what would be good? Adding this or that." I see this as him saying THIS IS NO GOOD and I get pouty. I need to knock it off too.

  4. KF - Why did you have to tell me you're an editor? Are you trying to make me have a panic attack? Do you know how many times I had to rewrite the preceding sentance to make sure it was okay? Is preceding the best word to use here?

    Shannon - I don't like people messing in my kitchen, either. As a result, I didn't know my husband doesn't care for salmon until about a year ago. 20 years into our relationship.