Embrace criticism, it will improve your work

Brett Andersen, Reporter

We’ve all been there; we’re anxiously sitting in class as our professor passes back our work. They hand us our assignment, and as soon as we take it, we see the dreaded red pen marks. Our professor went ahead and tore our work apart.

We begin to question ourselves and our abilities; wondering where we went wrong, and how we got to this point. We put in all this hard work just for our professors to make us question everything we’ve done.

Many of us cannot handle the constant criticism that we face. We say things like “oh well, she must hate me,” and, “this is just an elective, so who cares?” We try to place the blame on others, and find ways to make ourselves feel better. We must learn to accept that sometimes, our work just isn’t up to par.

For many, college is the first time that things aren’t handed to us on a silver platter, and we actually have to work for good grades. But even when hard work is put in, it’s still not enough. And that’s okay. That’s called learning. We’ve all decided to come to college for one reason or another, so while we’re here, we should be learning and growing. If we already had all of the answers, we would be professionals in our desired fields, and wouldn’t be paying so much for school.

Dr. Gregg Henriques, a licensed clinical psychologist, believes that much of these issues can be traced to the way kids are raised, and the way adults treat them in their formative years.

“Psychologists found that low self-esteem was a major vulnerability for mental health problems.” Henriques said. “People took that information, misinterpreted what it meant, and created an enormous push to protect kids’ self-esteem.”

We spend so long trying to protect kids from the disappointment of failure that we forget the lessons it can teach.

This protection of self esteem went too far.

As Henriques witnessed first hand, “I was a soccer coach recently and I was told that coaches are not allowed to criticize kids, that they must emphasize the positive.”

Instead of telling little Jimmy that he missed the ball and needs to focus on making contact with it, we praise him for simply trying to kick it. This mentality is then carried into adulthood, manifesting in college students who still expect praise for trying. Many cannot accept that life as an adult doesn’t work the same way.

Embracing criticism and taking it in stride is not something we all do, but it’s never too late to change. Using criticism to grow is just like using any other tool available to you.

We must remember that when someone is criticizing something we have done, they most likely have positive intentions. Your professors are not just pointing out your mistakes to make you feel bad; they are here to help you. They’re trying to make you into a better professional for whatever path you choose. Sometimes we all just need to take a deep breath, relax, and remember: it’s okay to be wrong if we learn from it.

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