Thinking music – The Neighbourhood “Sweater Music” -
“If you can’t take criticism here at home, what makes you think you can handle it in the real world?”
Just but one of those hand-me-down statements that caused friction in me. One of those statements that sounds mature from the mouths of he or she who speaks it…and yet. When I heard it, I had no answer. Only, my eyebrows furrowed. My cheeks rose to squint my eyes.
As a child, I lacked the oratory to explain how silly I thought the question was. As an adult, its an answer that you either agree with…or look down on my for.
When I was growing up, it was just tradition with me and my brothers and cousins that we talked shit about each other all day, everyday. The funnier, the better. We made a competition out of it. We’d practice on each other. Then we’d go to school and put our skills to good use on our peers.
But every so often, one of us would do something that we were proud of. Something we worked hard for or practiced or showed off in the hopes of making those we cared about proud. And it was in those moments, that jokes and harsh criticism crushed our very souls. We’d get defense and sometimes lashed out. If the person doing the criticism was someone we couldn’t attack, like an adult figure…we’d bottle up our anger and disappointment, which often lead to tears.
Then you’d hear it. “If you can’t take criticism here at home, what makes you think you can handle it in the real world?”
The answer to that question is simple. And here it is according to my opinion and personal constitution.
“The opinions of those who I’ve known my whole life and those who have known me for most of my present state in life weighs ten times to me than those who don’t.
Doesn’t this apply to everyone? Shouldn’t it? Perhaps it’s the natural rebellious spirit in me that prevents me from taking outside criticism to seriously regardless of their accolades and accomplishments. Perhaps its because I’ve seen too many awards and praises handed out to those who I feel are undeserving that I’m skeptical about putting too much stock in their trophy case.
An artist’s job is to create. There are different types of artist in this world, so I concede that my thoughts about having no limits on your work varies from artist to artist. It’s not for me to look down on those who create within boundaries. At the same time, I growl at those who look down on me for thinking outside the box.
Ladies and Gentlemen… I’m not depressed or sad or angry in writing this. Just ashamed of myself. There are certain abilities that I lack and I don’t like being reminded of them. The fact that I’ve been able to survive this long is due to self-acceptance. So when someone breaks down my walls and reminds me of all the ways in which I should be like who they expect me to be…well…given what I’ve told you this far, for someone to break down my walls must mean that they’re someone close to my heart.
And I stumbled hard. I finally got back up. And when I did, I blundered yet again. I thought Amazon had named one of my books the top books of 2014 when really it was just a promotion that they were plugging on the page. In haste and happiness, I posted a screencap of it on Facebook, a box I continually open to find nothing but reminders of what I’m missing out on.
There was a positive response from my friends and family. But alas…god knows what they were really happy about. The fact that my book is now available for print or the fact that Amazon acknowledges me as a good writer.
Then, there was something else. I started a crowdfunding campaign. God help me…
As if it didn’t already take a great deal of strength to beat my pride into submission… I don’t like asking people for money. Even with my books, I’d give them away for free if I could.
That being said…someone close to me declared that they’d give me a large donation if I got on the phone and called up all of my aunts, uncles and cousins and tell them what I’m doing to ask for the donations. This “someone” means a lot to me. Making him proud and doing what he asks would mean a lot to me. And when he suggested it…it sounded good at first. But the more and more I thought about it a heavy pressure began to dig at my shoulders. The air around me was heated to volcanic ash and it clawed at the back of my throat to inhale.
I know why I can’t just pick up the phone and call these relatives to ask for donations. But to explain it would mean opening a closet that I locked up long ago.
“Family is all you have”
“Without family, what do you have?”
Those are fine sentiments. One day, I wish I could embrace them whole-heartedly.
But honestly…there is a duality to me. Maybe more sides than two in which I cannot fuse them. I started writing when I was a teenager to escape the world I was in. The world in which I was surrounded by family…by family that made me extremely angry. And it’s ironic. Because I write to make that very same family proud. I write with the hopes of one day gaining enough money to support this family for the rest of their lives. Regardless of how I was raised, I want to treat them like kings and queens. Before they leave this earth I want them to know that their faith in my success wasn’t in vain.
I cannot ask for their help. At the same time, I won’t slap their hand away should they offer it. Maybe it’s because it would mean that I couldn’t have done it without them. Maybe its because the practice writing is the only thing in my life that’s never disappointed me. Maybe its to prove how good my stories are. Maybe its because in the back of my mind I don’t believe them when they say they’re proud of me.
I don’t know. Thinking about it is futile and produces nothing. I stopped in my tracks to…try to figure this shit out. But its not getting me anywhere. I have to keep moving. I have to keep going forward. I don’t want to be one of those obsessed mad geniuses you hear about on TV and in the movies. But more and more, I’m starting to settle on the idea of getting rid of everything that doesn’t help me on my path…like a selfish asshole. That’s no good. I can’t be like that. Either way, I’ll figure it out as I go along. Because no matter what, I can’t stay stagnant.