Don’t listen to the naysayers

paintbrushesHave you ever stopped doing something because someone told you you weren’t good enough?

I have.

When I was studying abroad some acquaintances told me it was crazy I was majoring in art. There was no purpose for doing it, they said. Only a few people could make a living as an artist, and I wasn’t one of them. Art was a fine hobby, but not something you pursued for a career.

As I spent more time abroad, I visited more museums. I saw awesome works of art, and starting wondering why I ever thought I could be an artist. I was just kidding myself, I thought.

I ended up changing my major. But the worst part is I stopped doing art entirely. I had been pretty serious about painting or drawing pictures for four or five years. I painted pictures for my roommates, and hung them up in our dorm. I painted pictures for friends for their birthdays.

But then I just stopped. I have to ask myself if my decision to stop resulted more from comments I received about my abilities, or laziness. I’m sure both played a role, but I wonder if I would have continued if no one had put my efforts down.

I really shouldn’t have listened to those people, and kept up my interest. Maybe I will engage in it again in the near future.

A couple of years later I was told by a journalist that I shouldn’t become a journalist. He said my writing style more resembled a lawyer’s (a definite putdown). But this time I didn’t listened to the critic. I ended up going to journalism school and becoming a journalist.

I’m glad I didn’t listen, even if I’ve decided to change fields after a few years.

Have you ever stopped doing something because someone made you feel like you weren’t good enough? If so, what was that thing? Do you regret your decision to listen to that person? Did you learn from that experience?

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3 Comments on “Don’t listen to the naysayers”

  1. ina Says:

    I’m sorry to hear about others discouraging you from pursuing art. I would be honored to have a painting made by you hanging in my house. I’m sure you are awesome at it 🙂 And thank you for writing about it and inviting us to share our stories.
    I did stop doing something when others criticized it. It was writing. I can still remember the moment I got the first discouragement that led to my dropping it altogether: We had to write an essay for our 7th grade Literature class. I was dying to share it with the class, so I volunteered to stand up and read it. The first sentence was “I am thankful for what I have and for what I don’t have.” My teacher interrupted me right then and there with a “that’s so stupid” tone to ask me what the heck was that about being thankful for what I don’t have. You can’t be thankful for what you don’t have. I tried to tell her to let me read so she understood, but she was adamant that that sentence made no sense. She finally just let me finish, but my heart wasn’t into it anymore. Any hope for praise for what I thought was a really good essay was gone. I still remember her defiance and her ridiculous posture while sitting at her desk, with her hand holding up her face as if it was going to collapse under its own weight. She was an awful teacher, but her words really stuck with me. I’m glad to be getting back into it again now. It’s taken some time, but I know I can do it… even if I have lost years of feedback opportunities to become a better writer.

  2. Hi Christine! Great blog, I’m glad I found it! I specifically remember the drawings/paintings you did of all of the roommates. I think it was based on a picture, right? I loved them! I sort of wish I had one now.:) Think you might pick it up again?

  3. Christine Laubenstein Says:

    Hey Ina! Thanks for sharing your story about writing. Stupid teacher. Aren’t teachers supposed to encourage creative thinking? Or at least give students a chance to explain themselves before saying they’re wrong. I’m glad you’ve gotten into writing, with your blogs and articles on The Daily Get Up. Clearly you have talent. I love this sentence in your comment: “I still remember her defiance and her ridiculous posture while sitting at her desk, with her hand holding up her face as if it was going to collapse under its own weight.”

    Amanda, glad you found my blog! Yup, you’re right about that roommate craypa painting being based on a photo. Yes, I would like to start painting again. I’m thinking I’ll do my first one within the month:-). I still have some craypas and oil paints.

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