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To Judge or Not Be Judged

Updated: Jun 6, 2021

Ever gotten your work critiqued? How about entering a contest or competition and allowing a perfect stranger to judge you? It is pretty scary to expose yourself to unfiltered judgment.

And when you received brutally honest feedback (also known as feedsmack), how did you react?

Know Your Why

I participated in critique groups with my writing, so I felt I had a thick enough skin to take the plunge and enter a writing contest. Then I got feedsmacked. Yep. The toughest judge happened to get my entry and let loose on pointing out how far I was from their high standard.

Ugh. To be honest, I did not respond well. First was the shock. A few tears. And then the downward spiral from the injustice of it all to convincing myself over the incompetence of this judge who knew nothing about writing. Yikes!

Once the emotional deluge calmed down, I asked myself a question all should face in such moments:

"Why did I enter this contest?"

Was it to win? Though winning would have been nice, that wasn't my original reason for putting myself through such mental anguish.

I wanted to know how far I had come in learning how to write...and how much further I had to go. I wanted an honest assessment without the sugar coating that our friends tend to lean towards. I wanted someone to point out where I still had issues in my writing craft.

Did I get that from the other two judges who loved the story? Not really. Huh. Sure the high scores flattered and encouraged me, but in terms of feedback? Saying you're good only inflates the ego, not your writing level.

But that tough judge who might have gone too far on the judging scale with the honesty without enough kindness to soften the blow? Wow. Throughout the feedsmack laid nuggets of priceless information. It shone a spotlight on the weaknesses in my writing. It provided the guidance I was seeking in the first place. It gave me a game plan on what to research and improve upon next.

You Learn More From Your Failures

Sure it is painful, but let's be honest with one another. We learn more from our failures than we ever do from successes. A success indirectly says you nailed it, but too many successes tend to drive me to complacency.

But give me a failure? That feeling drives me to learn from the mistake. Sure I hate the experience, but, after the emotional fallout settles down, it inspires me to do better. To learn. To improve. To become fantastic!

Don't let someone's feedback define you. Let it give you the resolve to live a brave life of grit as your pursue your purpose, calling, and passions!

What about you? Have you strapped on your best battle armor and entered the fray of judgment? Did you experience feedsmack, yet refuse to let it define you? Or has this encouraged you to look at those moments in a different light?

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