Cursed With a Conscience

marvels and musings of a normal girl in a wacky world.

Gaining Indpendence: Gotta love yourself first:)

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It is difficult to say why some people grow to be more independent than others. Certainly environment plays a role (as with nearly everything else), and genetics, too. However, it is difficult to reduce self esteem, confidence, or independence down to a formula of traits or circumstances. It would also be wrong to make too many causal attributions in general, because this strips individuals of the power to define their own destiny, making specific variables seem like they are pre-set from our birth, rather than voluntary choices. Because independence is not the fruit of one single seed, there are several ways to cultivate it, and I truly think it is possible for anybody.

A little about my own experience: My journey to independence seemed to happen gradually over time, and with no apparent driving force, genetic or environmental. I’ve always been a fairly stable person, whose characteristics and general disposition has remained much the same over time, with a few minor exceptions. One aspect in which I have become remarkably stronger since adulthood, however, is in the area of self esteem and independence, which I find to be closely related. When I was younger, I constantly sought approval from my peers, my parents, coaches, teammates or even random strangers I met on the sidewalk whom I feared might judge me for wearing mis- matched socks or an outdated t shirt. I sought approval and validation from everybody, often sacrificing the things that I truly wanted to do in order to please others, keep group cohesion, or avoid sticking out “negatively”. I was somewhat of a “doormat”, as the expression goes, and my self-esteem reflected that.

I don’t know precicely when this changed or how, but I can say it definitely came about with age, maturity, and abandoning middle/high school pressures to conform and follow the trends of my peers. In college (and after), I had the freedom of selecting those who I spent time with from a diverse body of like-minded people, allowing me to gravitate towards those who facilitated the process of my personal growth and individualism, rather than modeling a standard of normalcy or “excellence” which I was expected to follow. Indeed, things like trends and preferences in the post- high school world are highly diversified, allowing us to identify with people and environments that are ideal for our unique and individual preferences- or not give a damn what others think and do what we want anyway.

Present day, I’ve grown to be an extremely independent person. I enjoy doing things in groups or solo, and don’t feel inclined or pressured to do what the group is doing at any given moment. I hang out with people when I want to, not because I feel social pressure to be part of a group. I enjoy doing errands on my own, going to the gym, studying, having a coffee, taking a hike, or even going out for a casual lunch by myself. I especially find traveling alone to be invigorating, because I can be my authentic self, exploring the world on my own terms and bonding with those along the way that are doing the same. Travelling has definitely showed me that being alone at certain times in no way makes you lonely…in fact, had I travelled with companions during my Europe trip, I probably would have missed out on meeting the majority of the wonderful people that I did. Being independent has been a huge blessing for me in my recent years: single or dating, with company or without, I am happy, inspired, and find purpose in my life that doesn’t hinge on people or circumstances outside of my control. I have eliminated contingency from my life as much as possible, striving to keep my attitude and optimism constant no matter what is going on in the world around me. After all, we hold the power and the key to our own happiness. Nobody can dictate our attitude, reactions to events, perceptions of good vs. bad, personal standards, or goals for the future. These things are all in our control, so why not set ourselves up for happiness?

But how does one become independent? I don’t necessarily believe that it is acheived naturally, systematically, or overnight- it is usually a maturing process. Becoming independent, I think, begins with becoming less self-conscious about how the world perceives you, and more confident in your own capabilities and self-worth. It’s being confident in the notion that exuding a positive and powerful energy will attract the right kind of people, and those who repel away might not be worth worrying about. This is why self-esteem, confidence and independence are all interrelated. If one is confident in their self, they can stand alone strongly on two feet without feeling the need for a safety net or a crutch. Then, once that independence produces a sense of self-sufficiency and personal accomplishment, confidence and self-esteem soon follow. Each fuels the other, all culminating in an improved sense of self. Becoming less self-conscious is hard for many of us, however, because it means losing our concern for the world’s judgment; the judgment of our social peers to whom we have historically transferred the power of establishing what is good, bad, right and wrong. Becoming less self-conscious means being confident that how you conduct yourself and live you life is rich and rewarding because you possess good judgment, and the knowledge of that alone is enough to make you happy, even in the face of criticism. Confidence entails doing something with or without approval or recognition from others whose opinions we both value or don’t, and feeling a sense of fulfillment all the same; to shrug off judgment based on faulty criteria, and judge for yourself what valid criteria is.

It is interesting that although Americans are perceived by the rest of the world to be very outgoing and independent, which I was reminded of constantly by international friends I met on my trip, we are in actuality a very co-dependent and conscientious people in regards to the image we project to others. Many people, for instance, are mortified at the prospect of doing things alone. Shopping, dining, exercising, studying- all the time we seek companionship in daily activities, as if to validate they are worth doing at all. Why must one have somebody next to them to enjoy the sublimity of a sunset? Why do we need companionship at the library or chatting us online while we study? A time better spent focusing on our own learning and inquiry? We have become a population of people that cannot experience daily activities solo, let alone noteworthy one’s. I think we have it all wrong: contrary to being a sign of anti-social behavior or disengagement from the world, self-sufficiency should indicate one’s great internal strength and love of oneself in the context of the greater world. Being amused by one’s own thoughts and entertained by their own company is a blessing- one will never be lonely or encounter a dull moment if they are stimulated by their own mind and content in their own skin. My advice to all my readers? Engage with the world in whatever way pleases you, and allow others to form their opinions in the way they wish. Chances are, doing things your own way and modeling purposeful and self-sufficient behavior will win you more admirers than critics. And if not, you are still impressing the most important judge: yourself:)

Spilled Milk by radarxlove


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Picking the right battles

Let’s face it: if we stressed about, fussed over, or attempted to combat every inconvenience, offense, speedbump or roadblock that life threw our way, we would be miserable people- and tremendously unsuccessful.

The fact is, shit happens, and it happens often enough that we need to become skillful at finding solutions or routes to reconciliation, or just learn to scream into a pillow and get over it. That’s where picking the right battles comes into play. The following are poor (but commonly chosen) battles that humans wage with themselves or others every single day- yet occasions in which surrender, calling a truce, or pulling out are truly more effective strategies:

Battle # 1. Becoming upset when people you don’t care about or don’t know well judge you unfairly: If people are speaking ill of you undeservedly, they don’t know you and probably don’t care to take the time to get to know you. If they did, they would see what all the people that adore you see. If somebody doesn’t care to assess you fairly, or jumps to conclusions about your character prematurely, the best recourse is to be yourself and hope you can change their opinion. Fact is, we all have bad days. Some days we are more charming than others, and those who are worth your time will look past the immediate moment and judge you holistically- on your disposition, not the situation. Plus, you know yourself. If you behave respectably, you deserve respect. If people aren’t giving it, they aren’t the type of people you should care to impress. Let ’em judge- meanwhile, charm and bedazzle the rest of the worthy populace who want to impact your life positively. With that said, don’t return the bad vibes you might receive. If people talk negatively about you or sling hostility your way, retaliate with a smile. Kill ’em with kindness. Either they will change their opinion, or feel stupid and conflicted for maintaining their unfounded judgment. And the best part? You don’t lose your smile either way.

Battle # 2. Keeping tension with people within your same group of friends: Let’s be honest. In every group of friends, there tends to be at least a bit of longstanding tension. A blemish of bad history between two individuals. A shared crush or ex- boyfriend, a competitive edge that slices positive ties. Whatever the case may be, there will usually be at least one person in a group of friends whom you are less fond of than the others, and tension seems to follow the two of you everywhere. My advice? Squash it. Don’t vent about it to your other friends, they might begin to think less of you for being controversial and dramatic. Also, don’t return the bad vibes. Try to make the other person feel comfortable. Make subtle peace offerings: Laugh at their joke, offer them a drink if they wind up at a girls night that you’re hosting. Sometimes all it takes is one person to diffuse the awkwardness, and the other will follow suit. Once the air is cleared, you will look at that person through a new lens and might just like what you see. Plus, it’s much easier to get along than argue, and way more important to keep group cohesion than continued dedication to a stubborn vendetta.

Battle # 3. Perpetuating grudges: Admit it- they suck. They only hurt you. While it gives us a sick satisfaction to show our anger, resentment or hostility towards somebody who we feel has wronged us, and make them “pay” for their mistake, grudges really only make our life harder. They force us to glower when we really want to smile, just to send a message of indignation. They make mutual friends uncomfortable who are aware of the tension, and could cause alienation within a group when allegiances are forced into declaration. Also, grudges are almost always instances of small or outdated issues that have snowballed into something much larger and more profound, only because of a personal refusal to let it go, not because the issue still has any relevance. Let time diffuse your anger. Don’t hold on to resentment on principle if the impetus loses importance. We are all entitled to feel upset when situations arise that rub us the wrong way, but some things are just not worth holding on to. Keeping a silly grudge usually isn’t worth what you lose to hold on it.

Battle # 4. Crying over pilled milk: little annoyances happen every day, to every single person. Parking tickets, stubbed toes, spilling on your new top, an impossible series of red lights. This shit happens not because the world is conspiring to defeat you, but because of this nuisance called “coincidence.” That’s right, eeny meeny miny MO. Duck duck GOOSE. Sometimes you just get the shit end of the stick for no other reason than sheer chance. Therefore, don’t fuss over things you can’t control, and don’t beat yourself up over small mistakes- learn from them. Give yourself a hall pass to avoid guilt and shame in this instance, and scold yourself if it happens again. One way to look at situations in which frustrating or “unfair” setbacks occur is this: think about how many times you’ve gotten lucky, or gotten away with things you shouldn’t have. It all balances out. Maybe you got nailed for going 82 on the freeway this time, but think of all the times you were going 90 and never got caught. Don’t sweat the small things, and the inevitable speedbumps. It’s healthier to laugh and move on than to convince yourself that the world hates you. Plus, think of all the saps out there you point and laugh at when they’re on the side of the road with sirens behind them- yesterday it was their turn, today it might be yours. Or, think of the trillions of people out there who have it much, much worse than you; those who can’t afford a glass of milk to spill, new shoes to scuff, or a car to get ticketed. Count your blessings, and realize you’re fortunate to only be “sweatin the small stuff.” Friends, pick your battles wisely:)

Just Do It

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“Just Do It,” campaigns countless Nike billboards, t shirts, and magazine ads bombarding us every day around every corner. Although i’m not usually a champion of trite ad slogans, I must say this particular one promotes activism that I support. “Just do it.” Brief, blunt and to the point, this catchphrase invites consumers to seize opportunities, take action, and if unsure whether or not to buy the grossly overpriced pair of windbreaker running shorts: just do it! Wonderful encouragement Nike, though one as indecisive and averse to ambiguity as myself might ask: “And what, exactly is “it”??

It has become more and more evident to me that “it” is not as important as the “do”. The subject not as important as the verb. Because without the verb, the subject is worthless. The first step towards getting what we want, is taking “it” in stride. Emptying our minds, perhaps, of unrealistic expectations and undirected, aimless desire, and just doing something right now that gets us motivated and moving. I think many of us (myself included) look at unclear goals as an excuse for un-inspired living. That shouldn’t be the case. Goals do not simply materialize in our minds out of nowhere; they are the product of trial, error, exploration, spontaneity, intentionality, open mindedness, and above all else, a mentality to wring every bit of potential from every situation. To just do it- whatever it may be at that particular moment. Talking about doing something without a will or plan to actually do it is useless. Not only that, but hanging on to a goal that you do not work at to attain prevents you from forming other goals that you actually will. Take action, then talk. Look for ways you can take chances and discover your calling- or the job, hobby, person, place that will center your future goals. And once those goals are established and realized, take Nike’s silly slogan into action.

Momentum

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It’s a bewildering phenomenon to me how the busier we are and the less time we have to get things done, the more productive we actually tend to be. When we start a new day with a completely open, flexible schedule, and a list of obligations we need to get done, we seem to be far less likely to do much of anything at all with that free time, let alone the important things of top priority. Why has this bizarre fact suddenly become so clear? Because now that I am officially graduated and have all the time in the world to accomplish my goals, I have chosen instead to devote my time to watching Netflix and draining my bank account on fruitless expenditures. Not that I don’t consider “It’s always sunny in philidelphia” marathons and binge drinking with friends worthy pastimes, I must admit they are not conducive to my completion of more essential tasks- such as paying taxes, grocery shopping, sleeping, keeping diligently in touch with friends and family- and oh, discovering what in God’s name I want to do with my life.

When I was in school taking 15 units a semester, working 2 (sometimes 3) jobs at a time, exercising daily, and participating in various extracurriculars, I looked forward to the graduated life as a time for self reflection, realizing and pursuing career goals, and developing non school- related hobbies, since I would no longer be so busy earning my degree. Yet, looking back now I realize I did FAR more of those things when I was actually in school; when I was scrapping through each day with barely a second to flicker my eyes upon a television screen in passing, let alone indulge in marathons. In those times I ran marathons, not watched them. I would rise early, go to sleep late, hit the grind all day long, and even squeeze in a (literally) intoxicating social life in the margins. Yes, when I had absolutely no free time to speak of, I STILL managed to take care of everything I needed to do, and dream up ambitions to do more.

Analyzing why this puzzling dynamic exists has led me to formulate a theory, which I will call the “momentum” theory. This theory is as follows: when we are extremely busy, fighting for survival, under pressure, and moving forward, we will continue to gain momentum and accelerate in this positive direction. It is the moment we stop, we turn on the t.v., we graduate school, we finish the marathon, we allow ourselves to sleep in, we skip the gym because we’re tired, we pass up an opportunity waiting for the next one, that we lose momentum and lose productivity. Once the momentum is gone, we have no power left to move us forward. Just as a car moves slowly when accelerating from a complete stop, once we have lost our momentum forward we have to work even harder to get back to the speed we were at before.

So how do we fix this situation? How do we sludge through the quicksand of inactivity and stagnancy, of wasting time and procrastinating, of waiting until tomorrow to get things done, or until we have watched just ONE more episode of Workaholics? Step one: Leave the house. Force yourself to change out of your robe and pajamas the moment you wake up. Start your day productively, get your momentum started RIGHT AWAY. Once you have taken care of one errand, you will feel motivated to undertake the next. The feeling of accomplishment will elevate your spirits and inspire you to do more. Your energy and confidence will increase, and so will your urgency to optimize your hours. Going from place to place, you will see things that will inspire you more, encounter experiences and people who will broaden your horizons. Your high momentum will enable you to deftly and quickly switch gears, transition from one thing to the next, and have a go-getter attitude that will win you opportunities and success.

It’s a fact: when we are busy, we thrive. In the span of one day, an efficient individual can accomplish what would take an inefficient one a week. So, make yourself busy. Stop hating errands, and don’t consider any of your time “free time”. Give your time purpose. It doesn’t have to be spent doing something mundane, boring, stressful or in one way or another unpleasant. But once time is considered open and unassigned, it becomes wasted. Make lists, itineraries, agendas- have goals. If you’re like me and are done with school, in a transition period in your life, and have spans of time with which to do whatever you please, don’t waste it. Build forward momentum, and keep gaining speed towards your goals. The moment you put on the breaks, you’re going to waste time, fuel, and motivation getting the wheels spinning again. So pick up the speed, and pick up the slack my friends!

quarter life opportunity

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So lately I’ve been (partly) joking to my friends and family that I’m going through a “quarter life crisis”. You know, the kind where you go out and impulsively buy a ferarri, or sell all your things and move to South America. Since no state of crisis or desperation could ever produce me a ferarri, and the going rate for my dilapidated ikea furniture and banged up honda civic is still insufficient to afford a cheap plane ticket south, my version of quarter-life mind loss was purchasing a ticket to Europe to travel alone for 3 weeks this spring. The deed is done!:) I leave in mid-may and couldn’t be more excited!! It was while discussing my upcoming trip to a good friend that I had a sudden realization. We had begun the chat discussing my post-graduation anxiety: my uncertainty about what the next year of my life will bring, where it might take me, which career path it might thrust me down- or will I even get a job? I was telling him that I feel overwhelmed with options, indecisive about which path to take and how to take the first step. He then uttered the shocking statement that sparked my epiphany: my successful, full-time employed, very well-off friend said that he was jealous of ME. Come again?  He elaborated by reminding me that I was young and capable, unfettered by obligation, kids, ferarri car payments, etc. It hit me then, In the midst of my “quarter life crisis”, that i’m living in San Diego, freshly graduated, paying my bills, having a blast with friends, and looking forward to a trip to Europe in just a few months. I have free time for the first time in my life, and the shackles of daily obligations (other than part-time work) have been temporarily lifted. I’M FREE! Yes, it is daunting to embark upon a new chapter, it is scary to know that my fate rests in my own hands and i’m responsible for my own success. But the choice is mine- and that is what makes this period of time so wonderful. Meanwhile, more successful and professionally-established others are confined to whatever job they have, a slave to their hectic schedules, and unable to spontaneously pry themselves from the rat race to do things for themselves. I’m thrilled to say that i’m not in that position yet- I honestly don’t think i’m ready. I need to be young, blow off steam, be a bit reckless, and fill these next few years with experiences that I can cherish for a lifetime, that I can look back upon with satisfaction and blissful nostalgia. I want to be 40 and know that I optimized my opportunities when I was young and wrung every ounce of vitality from these fruitful years lying ahead. So my conclusion is that perhaps the “crisis” state I find myself in today is not such a travesty afterall- perhaps it’s a window of opportunity. A time where I can drift upon the tides and see where I end up- If I don’t like where that is, I change my route. I can’t say that i’m not still anxious about what the future holds- hell yeah I am. But I can say this: I look forward to seizing new experiences in the coming months, and making memories I can jot into these blogs and read years from now with extreme fondness and gratitude. Hopefully I will be sitting in a plush study with a fancy leather massage chair drinking fine scotch with my doting husband and adorable children  waiting for me in the next room when this reminiscing takes place- which would mean that I emerged from my crisis/opportunity stage with a career and husband. But, who knows? That’s a worry for tomorrow. Today, I turn my travesty to triumph and plunge into the gray area head first. The quarter life is a prime time for opportunity:)

Why humans are never wrong: A list of bulletproof biases

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So I set about today with the formidable task of proving why human beings are always right. It is a simple fact: our opinions, impressions and preferences will always be morphed in our minds as indisputable reality. Any evidence to the contrary, no matter what, can in some way be falsified by our exceedingly artful ego’s.

After living my life with complete faith in the unconditional correctness of all of my beliefs, an infallible certainty that I (especially) was always right, I was suddenly attacked today by a troubling notion. If I am always right, and everybody else believes they are always right heedless of any and all empirical evidence stating otherwise, who is actually correct? Or if everybody is right all the time as the human conscience would contend, does that mean nobody is? My first solution to this conundrum was latching onto the (probably correct) assumption that I was right the first time (naturally) and have an exceptional and elevated understanding of my self and the world, and thus my readings of each are piercingly accurate and on point the vast majority of the time. But then, EUREKA! Before I could hit the “send” button reporting these satisfactory findings, I stumbled upon an interesting term that  helped me explicate the validity of my preconceived notions a little bit better. This concept, my friends, was that of “human biases”. With this revolutionary strand of research, I was finally able to dispel everybody else’s misguided pretenses of being right and reaffirm my superior standing as the sole human who actually is. To follow are a list of biases that others exhibit in order to fraudulently feign legitimacy.

1. False consensus effect: “The tendency for humans to overestimate the degree to which others agree with them”. Indeed, human beings have a baffling tendency to interpret incredulous head shakes, condescending sneers, and the word “no” as encouragement or praise. Thus when they articulate  crazy claims or do something clearly unacceptable, they incorrectly perceive the responses of others as positive and supportive, when generally they are befuddled and/or critical in nature. When we ( ahem,  others) are assured of being correct, that confidence is reaffirmed by whatever we see, no matter how obviously these cues signify  the contrary.

2. Illusion of external agency: “when people view self-generated preferences as instead being caused by insightful, effective and benevolent agents.” Yes people, you have all done it. Your love of expansive, southern California beaches and crystal clear blue skies is an exquisitely tasteful and inspired preference. This setting provides you with an existential feeling of connectedness to the world and the effervescent  spirit  bursting from wild matter. When you are gazing out at the tumultuous blue sea, you feel one with the earth. Ok ok, admittedly this insight also has a little something  to do with you not liking to be cold and the superficially pleasing fact that surfer men make for a decent crop of eye candy.

3. naive cynicism: “expecting  more egocentric biases in others than in oneself.” Those who commit this bias think that others make self-centered and self-serving judgments based on their own preferences, but will refuse to acknowledge this tendency in themselves. For example: SoCal is much better than Norcal, and anybody who disagrees and puts their region on a higher pedestal is egocentric. See what I did there? Surprising that I could could come up with an example of this one so readily, considering that I have no practice with such a bias….

4. Self-serving bias- “the tendency to claim more responsibility for successes rather than failures.” This one explains why the quiz you aced last semester hangs on your parents fridge next to your participation track medal from six years ago, and the C- term paper you thought you aced sits shamefully in a hidden folder on a dusty flash drive never to be looked at or spoken of again. It also explains why  friends on facebook are kept diligently informed of every good deed you have performed in the last month, and every “epic” night out you have had with your “besties” that a camera can capture. As far as this bias is concerned, that little stunt that happened last night in the alley behind typhoons DID NOT HAPPEN. and anyway, it wasn’t your fault…

5. Backfire effect: “when people react to disconfirming evidence by strengthening their beliefs.” You mean to tell me that because a few ice bergs have melted and the ozone layer is looking a bit think these days that global WARMING is occuring? Then explain to me last night why I had to sleep with an extra pair of fuzzy socks and a thermal blanket. You IDIOT, clearly you understand nothing of the way the environment works…Global warming? Preposterous, if anything global FREEZING is occuring…

6. confirmation bias: “the tendency to search for or interpret information or memories in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions.” For instance: I am a very compassionate person and always put the needs of others before myself. Remember that time at the beach two years ago when I fed that adorable seagull the rest of my meatball sandwich I didn’t feel like finishing because I was sickeningly full? It liked it so much it now prefers subway sandwiches to clams and shellfish. Your welcome.   Also, I cannot believe my friends think my man likes that other girl. He bought her a bud LIGHT for god sakes. That’s the shittiest beer there is and it probably means he thinks she’s fat. He lets me buy my own drinks because he respects my independence.

Before I go on and on with my list of these common biases, I will step down from the podium because I think I have made my case for why others are psychologically delusional and wayward in their assumption of being right. Afterall, according to the “illusory superiority” bias, others will always be incorrect in their presumption that their opinion is better than mine. This report is not meant to patronize any humans for their fanciful, biased thinking, it’s just my benevolent and insightful mission to spread awareness. Good day everyone!:)

Letting criticism help you

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The very word makes me shudder. Nothing wreaks more havoc upon my  nervous system  than a situation  in which criticism is directed at my work, my character or anything else that I take seriously or prize highly. Hearing criticism  from another person- words that I, myself,  might even know to be true-  wrench my insides, pierce my heart, and send my nerves into a frenetic tailspin. Why is it so hard to hear words of criticism from another person, let alone when you know them to be true yourself?

For a reason I do not fully understand, I have lived my entire life in fear of criticism. With academics, sports, hobbies, men, it’s always the same: I never place myself in a path of rejection, refuse to attempt goals I do not feel assured I can reach, and rarely solicit feedback from others about my job performance unless i’m confident it will be a flattering assessment. It seems as though the opinions of others truly do shape the way we perceive our own self worth. So why do we not just shield out what others have to say? Why should we let the opinions of others influence our self concept?

About six months ago this answer was made clear to me, and I think it can be best explained with an analogy. I believe that human beings have blind spots. The same way that every car review mirror fails to reflect back a tiny sliver of the landscape behind us, our introspect fails to see clearly every aspect of our own self. Human beings by nature see the world, and ourselves within it, with a certain bias or subjectivity no matter how hard we strive to be  impartial. Therefore, as individuals, we can learn a lot by looking through another set of eyes, or assuming  a vantage  point from another angle; an angle that might see our blind spot just a bit clearer.

Six months ago I had my blind spot revealed to me, and it took me by storm. I had been doing the same job for over a year- I knew what I was doing, I was comfortable, and I felt confident that I was always on the top of my game. I went through my tasks the same way every time, bringing consistency and ( I thought) efficiency to my work. Nobody expressed any concerns to me about my performance, or ever offered suggestions of ways that I could do things differently or improve in any aspect. In short, nobody provided any criticism. With no outside lens to shine upon my self or my actions, I blissfully ignored what lurked within my blind spot, and kept seeing the world, and myself, the way I had daily been conditioned to. I continued to operate with the same methods and mindset in each instance, with no new insight to jar me out of cruise control.

And then my bubble of bliss popped- or more accurately, exploded. In one dramatic moment, in one mortifying conference, my weaknesses were revealed to me- and there were a lot of them. And they really, really hurt to hear. The worst part was these weaknesses were so easy to change, and could have been avoided all along had I received this criticism earlier. Minor things that I felt to be inconsequential were, in fact, things I should have been taking seriously. My excellence in several areas of the job were being achieved by my apparent neglect of others- others that were not even in my zone of priorities, because they were hiding in my blind spot. Without the rug being shifted from it’s everyday locale, I continued to sweep, dust and decorate around its inert form- clueless to the dirt and decay building` underneath. I was never prompted or impelled to move the rug, so why concern myself with what’s beneath it?

On the day that I received that criticism almost a half year ago, I almost wanted to give up. I thought to myself: if they don’t appreciate me, I should go somewhere that will. However, it occured to me rather quickly that this was a cop out response to the issue. Spurning the criticism rather than internalizing it’s purpose would only hurt me in the long run. Clearly, this criticism had an element of truth, even if that truth was not immediately obvious to me. Furthermore, that truth was probably being noticed by others as well, just never vocalized.  Who knew how long I had been committing these blunders, and what important person was taking notice. Thus, ignoring the criticism, or writing it off as faulty or a matter of “their opinion”, would continue to do me a disservice in that particular job  and possibly related others.

To make a long story short, I kept with the job and implemented the changes they wanted to see to the best of my ability. Right away, I noticed myself improving. My attitude, work ethic, performance, everything vamped up significantly merely because I was aware of my actions and how they were perceived, and determined  to combat the criticism I had received because of them. Had I scoffed and walked away from the job instead, or had nobody ever spoken up in the first place, I would have continued with the same bad habits and less-than-exceptional performance. Although it was mortifying and demoralizing to hear at first, overcoming the criticism and changing my image was absolutely a worthy reward, and one that I am very proud to look back on today with a sense of accomplishment.

Six months down the road, I have had new jobs, taken on new challenges, and faced more criticism as well as commendation. Although I still dread to face criticism, I have genuinely learned to appreciate it and view it in a positive light. I have realized that how one responds to criticism directly impacts their level of success and defines their character.  By demonstrating in every situation that I am determined, humble, hardworking, and committed to fixing  my faults, I have proved myself a more valuable individual than one who exhibits competency without those other attributes. Being aware of our weaknesses and receptive to feedback about them is truly an essential part of personal success and greatness. Blind spots exist, and so does the law of motion. Something will continue at a constant pace unless it is exerted upon by an outside force. Velocity and direction will not change without being forced from outside entities. Similarly, our perspectives and personal qualities seem to crystallize or remain unchanging without interference from the world. I am fortunate interference came my way, because it forced me to escalate my intensity, reroute my priorities, and overall improve my job performance. Criticism, though hard to hear, is something to appreciate, not fear. So appreciate feedback, good or bad, seek out appraisal of your work from those who mean you well, take to heart what trusted others have to say, and always remember to check your blind spots:)