300million people in the world suffer from depression. Self belief is not easy for some of us. It takes a bit of work.
As an artist, writing and releasing my own songs, you leave yourself open to criticism and that’s ok. But, there’s criticism and there is criticism. I don’t think any artist doesn’t like receiving constructive criticism, we actually crave it. It lets us view what we’ve made from an angle that is usually hidden from us. Seeing your creation through the eyes of someone else is a powerful way to see the areas of your craft you need to work on.
Then there’s the other criticism. The kind that really offers no ‘creative nutrition.’ The kind where it’s more about the critic than it is about you the artist.
When you share your creation as an artist you’re sharing a deep personal part of yourself. You have to, the only way to impact someone is to go where they and you wouldn’t naturally go.
We bury our lives under tasks and responsibilities and this gives us the cover to avoid deep self-reflection. What if we don’t like what we see? What would we do? What could we do? Artists need to be brave in their exploration and that’s what makes criticism of the non-constructive type so poisonous.
I remember a moment, there’s been a few, but one in particular when I was very early on in my writing career. I showed a person, who’s opinion I valued, a new song I demo’d on cassette, yes a cassette. Was it the next big hit? I thought so at the time but in reality it was nowhere near it. I was however, really excited about it. When I showed this person they pressed play on the Walkman and began to listen to the song. I was waiting patiently to see their reaction and it wasn’t what I hoping to see.
They kind of screwed their nose up and blatantly said ‘I don’t like it, I don’t think it’s very good.’ Ok, could you tell me why? “It’s just not good.” Wow thanks, you’re not some stranger on the street or some record label exec, you’re close to me, we’re friends. Could you be a little more understanding?
It felt like they’d taken a scalpel and just cut my heart out. I don’t think we put enough consideration into the words we use sometimes. All I needed was some gentle encouragement, maybe something like, ‘yeah, you are definitely getting better,’ could work. Not, ‘it’s just not good.’ Not from someone that’s close to me. To an artist it’s like a parent saying I don’t love you anymore. Our creations are our babies. We’ve just bared our soul, our deepest, darkest and most personal thoughts and you just toss it away like it’s a used up chocolate wrapper. Yeah, thanks!
It hit me hard, really hard. I had to take a moment to asses the situation. I felt angry, sad, worthless, but, I was lucky because deep down inside of me their was a punk sticking his finger up saying jam you, at least I’m expressing myself.
Did it really matter if it was good or not? When you’re so early on your process all you need is encouragement and constructive criticism. Something to keep the wind in your sails. Eventually you’ll either keep going or give up naturally, and if you give up naturally you’ll be able to live with the decision and a full heart.
You never know where someone is as at emotionally. Choose your words with kindness in mind. You don’t have to say it’s amazing if it’s not. You can say there’s room for improvement with kindness. If we treat each other the way we’d like to be treated., with a little kindness, maybe less of us will fall into this staggering statistic.