Tuesday, September 07, 2010

creativity and criticism

A while back, I was goofing around on my iPad, playing with a drawing program...nothing fancy, just random doodles, playing with patterns and colors, drawing random things like houses and boats and skulls and abstract shapes. Showed some of them to Will, to show him what the program could do [it was a free app, so it was pretty cool that it was as full-featured as it was], and he said very nice things about my scribbles. I blushed, smiled, stammered, and just assumed he was being kind.

Fast forward a while: the two of us have been playing a goofy little game [another freebie] where you populate a kingdom with buildings and businesses and trees and whatever else is available [kind of like a much smaller SimCity]. It's a good timekiller [though bad if you have even a hint of OCD], and we've been having fun with it. The other day, Will looked at what I had made and told me that he really liked it, and that he wished he "was as creative" as I was.

It really meant a lot to me for him to say that out of the blue. In the past, I had someone in my life who was a bit more critical of things I did. If I sang around the house, he told me that I "could be good if I got some singing lessons". When I wrote stories and poems, he read them, then would say things like "it seems like you are trying too hard" and "you should think more about the structure and less about the imagery". Nothing that was really horrible if you only heard it once in a while, but sadly it was an ongoing pattern...and every time he gave me his "helpful" criticism, I would cringe inside and eventually just stop doing whatever it was he was picking apart. It was a subtle process, and it was only much later that I even realized what was happening.

I look back now, and I don't like that I let it affect me the way it did. But when you are sharing life with someone, their opinion matters; if they tend towards negativity, it does have an impact. If you receive more negative feedback than positive, more criticism than encouragement, then you eventually stop sharing what you do with that person. The positive side of going through all of that is becoming aware of it happening...I will never again let myself be in the position that gives someone else that power to take away what I enjoy doing, or to bring me down with their negativity...if I see it happening, I will call them on it, and if that doesn't work, then I know I deserve better and can walk away [which is what I eventually had to do in that relationship...it was a hard decision, but ultimately the right one for both of us].

So it means a lot to me that Will said what he did...it's flattering and very sweet. And even though I've learned not to let someone else keep me from doing something I like to do, it's good to have someone in my life that I can share myself with. It's much nicer that way.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Screw that guy, you're much better off now.