Negative Feedback and the Nerd Girl


So if you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you probably already know I’m kind of a nerd. Like many people who were overachievers in school I got used to the high of a sweet, sweet A+. Maybe a little too used to it. Those hits of external validation become life.

But external validation makes pretty poor armor against negative comments when they come. And they always come, no matter how many honor rolls you were on or AP classes you aced.

Lisa Simpson is not impressed with your negativity.

I’m not going to lie. It’s still not easy for me to handle external criticism, especially if it’s about something that brushes up against a core perception I have of myself. I don’t think I’m alone in that though. I’ve seen some pretty chill people lose it when a soft part of their underbelly gets prodded.

So what do I do when the inevitable negative criticism is lobbed my way? First, I take a deep breath. Then, I’ll call/ PM/ hang out with a member of my personal squad if one of them is available. I have a wonderful inner circle of friends who are kind about letting me vent, while not letting me get stuck in self-pity mode (and good about being caring but honest when I've missed the mark). I try to remind myself that part of being smart is being open to learning. Only an idiot thinks they have nothing more to learn. So what does this negative experience teach me? 

Eventually, I do get to a calm enough place to be objective about the event. And if it the criticism has a valid point, I try to honor that and change.

Of course, there are times I just laugh about it and practice my Spanish cussing with my friends too. Hey, I’m not perfect! 😆


Song Choice: All Star by Smashmouth

This blog post was created for Poets United's Moonlight Musings: The Interactive Edition 1.

29 comments:

  1. I agree criticism hurts, even if it's spewed by an "idiot". Having a inner circle of friends helps as a sounding board. But hopefully we learn and grow from those experiences.

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    1. Most times you can tell the idiot in question is full of it, but yeah, every now and then, perceptiveness and an acid tongue reside in the same person. Those moments can really sting! And thank goodness for good friends who help put things in perspective.

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  2. I think it's the nature of the criticism that makes the difference. If criticism is meant to be constructive and is delivered in a positive, helpful manner, it can be a gift to us. But if it is destructive in nature, delivered in a mean or cruel way, that's what we need to protect ourselves against. And yeah, it's hard. But it sounds like you've got some good supports around you for such occasions!

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    1. Oh absolutely! Even if the criticism was meant as "helpful", there is an excellent chance I (or anyone else) will blow it off completely if it's delivered with all the charm of a peevish scorpion, whether there was any truth to it or not.

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    2. I agree with Debra!!! Big Hugs Rommy!

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  3. There isn't comfortable way to deal with negative criticism. Like you've suggested, it doesn't matter how smart or confident or whatever one might be, being on the receiving end of a destructive attack does something to all of us. We are lucky to have those who listen to our rants, who help us get back to ourselves before we have to face the beast, or who are always there to listen to our creative language therapy.

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    1. It's always good to have an understanding friend on speed-dial for language therapy sessions! LOL

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  4. Lol! Sometimes what I'm thinking and what I'm typing are radically different. But I try never to respond to anything in anger. And having a squad you can count on... priceless!

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    1. Bwahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! Yeah, me too. I've actually typed out stuff, took a look at what I wrote, been all, "yeah, life is too short and I could be drinking tea now instead", and deleted it to deal with at a later time (like when I'm less angry or when the apocalypse comes).

      I am super grateful for my squad. They make me a better person.

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  5. Venting to those nearby is a wonderful antidote, which i also employ. Love the line about the scorpian, lol.

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    1. It could be the smartest, most insightful scorpion, with the most valid of points. But what lies behind their actions--a desire to genuinely see people push their talent to the next level or show off the pointiness of their stinger?

      I'll honor the intent behind the former, but the latter gets an eye-roll from me.

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  6. So good that you have a squad who allows venting. I think recovery from negative criticism is a process. Hopefully, at the end we see the truth in the criticism or discard it.

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    1. It really is, especially if you're someone (like me) who for a very long time relied on external validation to build themselves up. External negativity hits pretty hard then. Of course, the best way to deal is to find a way to validate from within - which isn't easy! But it does help troll-proof the castle of one's sanity. :D

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  7. Great to have a squad. I wish I had one. My poor husband must listen to my various outbursts when criticism comes. For the most part I don't let it get to me. I can change if necessary, apologize if necessary, but I don't let plain old ugly talk sink in.

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    1. Husbands who listen are a glorious thing too. My husband is definitely part of my squad. Both the Avengers (Marvel comics - group) and the Avengers (BBC TV show- dynamic duo) get the job done. :)

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  8. You are blessed to have that inner circle of friends to turn to when needed. Recovering process becomes a little bit easier after a nasty blow. Love how you've explored the topic.

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    1. Thanks Sumana. I'm definitely a lucky person.

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  9. Nerd girls are wonderful, Rommy. Although I’m no longer a girl by any stretch of the imagination, I am one too. But in the British education system, that did not exempt me from negative feedback – it’s only fairly recently that teachers started to soften the blow – I was one of them. Negative criticism is painful, but it doesn’t have to be like that. Some critics are just plain spiteful, and that’s unnecessary.
    I like your methods of dealing with negative criticism – the deep breath, sharing it with someone, and having a good laugh are all important.

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    1. I think it's pretty awesome that you decided to break the cycle when you were in a position to do so. :)

      LOL, laughter is one of my most often used therapuetic tools.

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  10. A cool calm head will always precede a calm response. We can’t please everyone but I’m glad you please yourself first!

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    1. Pleasing everyone is a fool's game. LOL, OK well sometimes I might be foolish, but not *that* foolish.

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  11. Ha, mention of ‘peevish scorpion’, and of perceptiveness and acid tongue in same person, reminds me that, as an astrological Scorpion I must be careful when being on the giving end of negative criticism. I don’t always realise what a sting my words may carry. To me I may just be expressing myself clearly, whereas the recipient can be left reeling. People tell me I am ‘snappy’, ‘moody’, ‘blunt as shit’, when I had no notion of being any of those things. In writing, one has more opportunity to think twice and do some re-wording; it is in person that I need to watch it.

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    1. PS As for being on the receiving end, I love the idea of Spanish cussing, bwahaha. (Luckily for monolingual me, English cussing works all right too.) Good to have friends one can vent to.

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    2. LOL, ah, the (sometimes!) saving grace of writing! We always have that chance to make things clearer, shape the flow of our words more carefully, and create an environment that is conducive to communication instead of the verbal equivalent of Thunderdome. 'Tis a pity that even the best of us can forget in the heat of the moment. I know I have. 😆 LOL, as a Taurus, I am fairly chill until I absolutely AM NOT. But from my on-line communications with you Rosemary, I've always seen you as very professional and helpful, for what it's worth.

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  12. I am firmly behind Spanish cussing. But I’m also fortunate enough to have a squad too. I’m glad you’ve got a crew that always has your back!

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    1. Behold the awesome power of squads! *cue theme music* I'm glad you have a good crew on your side too, Rue. :)

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