One of my favourite subjects in school was literature. Even before I got to the stage of studying it, I was already filled with anticipation. Imagine doing a subject that was part of my daily routine. I love reading. I would read all the recommended books and even give the summary to my friends that didn’t have the patience to read. It was in one of my literature classes that I first heard the word, onomatopoeia and it really piqued my interest. Like I said in my previous post, English is a very wonderful language. There are some words that have sounds which portray their meanings. Even if you don’t understand the language the sound of the word alone is enough to tell you its meaning. Take for instance, words like; hiss, splash or boom.
There’s one word I believe should be classified as onomatopoeia, the word ‘criticism’ and all variations of it that exist; ‘criticize’, ‘critic, critique, etc. The sound of it alone can really prick anybody. No one likes to be criticized. We all want to get people’s approval and be affirmed in all we do. When we’re criticized our first instinct is to think that nobody likes what we are doing or us. You might even say to yourself, ‘what’s the use trying so hard?’
Unfortunately we can never avoid criticism. I don;’t believe that there’s any great person who ever lived that never faced criticism. If you’re married then your husband must have criticized you at least once. It may be the dress you chose to wear, your cooking or your hair style. At your office, you must have faced criticism a good number of times from your superior or colleague and we women are so emotional that we easily slip into tears after our work is criticized (please if you want to get ahead in your career then you must put a big hold on your emotional side. Nobody takes an over-emotional woman seriously. See my old post on ‘the contemporary christian woman in the work place‘ I would love to say more about this but that’s a post for another day). As a student you are going to face thousands of criticisms from your peers. I think young people are the most criticized (this reminds me of one man that said he’s the most criticized….on earth :)). The fact is that once you set a goal for yourself and dare to stand out from the crowd, you are bound to be in the line of fire. If you can’t stand the heat, you may just have to run out of the kitchen.
Before you run out of the kitchen just because of criticism, here’s what you should know. There are two types of criticism – constructive (good) criticism and malicious (bad) criticism. Constructive criticism is usually laced with a compliment. It is given in such a way that you will be inspired to do better. Malicious criticism is given purely with the intention of pulling you down. The critic doesn’t care about making you do better.
Even the bible has something succinct to say about criticism. Prov. 15:31 & 32 (NLT) says, If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise. If you reject discipline, you only harm yourself; but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding. In my own manual, I believe that there’s no such thing as bad criticism. Any form of criticism is good because it should spur you to do better either because you were inspired to do better or because of your desire to shame your critics. If life gives you lemons then make lemonades with it or in our Nigerian case, ‘if life gives you beans then you better make akara or moi-moi with it’. Even if you believe the criticism is unjustified, use it and improve on it. It’s easier said than done though. It’s not easy not to get hurt when people say mean things to you. The only way to avoid criticism is to stay away from the limelight and do nothing but if you dare to stand out then you will be in the line of fire.