Desi 2.0 – Life Lessons On Accepting Criticism And Not Sucking At It

Let’s talk about 2 things that are very interconnected.

  1. The ability to accept criticism in the right way
  2. Me

Read on!

Criticism Sucks & There’s No Point In Accepting it

For those who don’t know – this used to be me. Like, 1000%. As a person who has changed a lot over the last few years. I can honestly say that this still is, and probably always will be, a weakness of mine. And yes, I know, you should never showcase your weaknesses to people because they might use them against you. And I completely agree, only… do you really want to be seen as a complete robot? Nothing wrong with Voltron, but if anyone gets hit by an undying desire to use this against me, all I can say it: go ahead and try 🙂 You know why?

Because this is not me anymore. And I want to share with you how that happened.

I’m really fighting the urge to start with a reborn-from-the-ashes-phoenix metaphor here, but I respect my viewers too much for that, plus it reminds me too much of Harry Potter and that just stirs up a whole different kind of mess. Anyway, if we go a few years back in time, that’s when I lived my life with the motto “If you want something done, do it yourself”. That’s right – I was an awesome team player. Aren’t you sad you never worked with me?

Every time someone tried to tell me I didn’t do something right, I disagreed. And most of the time I was right, since the people telling me those things were not usually using more than 0,000001% of their brain capacity. I have always had a problem with authority though, and part of the criticism issue lies in that as well, since I never used to listen to any of my teachers, parents, or anyone who had the right to give me constructive criticism. And by “had the right” I mean “wasn’t a complete dumbass” (When you live in a place like Bulgaria, it’s very hard not to be surrounded by those). I’ve always been stubborn as hell, noisy and very determined to get my opinion across, even if no one wants to hear it (Stop rolling your eyes. Stop.it.now.). I remember a particular situation when I wasn’t good in doing Powerpoint presentations and one of my teachers told me so.

How I took it: Made a face, said Aha, went home, carried the same face until I got there and ignored everyone who said “Hi” to me. After coming home, told 90% of my friends how unfair that guy was and how awesome my presentation was, he just knows nothing about how to do them well, since he’s just a teacher. After half an hour of that, I started to relax, convinced “That guy sucks, he’s just jealous”. What exactly he would be jealous of, I never found out.

How I should have taken it: Should have said “Thanks a lot for your feedback, I’ll try to work on that!” and kept smiling, because it doesn’t happen everyday that someone cares enough to point out how you can improve. Then I should have told all my friends what a great teacher we have, since most of the teachers there didn’t care enough about us to even listen to our presentations.

Sound easy, right? But those of you who are struggling/have struggled with the same problem know that it isn’t.

Let me share another situation I could have handled better. And that’s an understatement, since I really fucked that one up.

The Time I Became A Self-Proclaimed Team Leader… And Failed Miserably

Over 2 years ago I participated in a very cool & educational event called Business in Practice. It’s one of those events that allow you to work in a team with a common goal, which, in our case, was to create a website and a marketing campaign for an IT company. My team consisted of some very awesome people and a girl I couldn’t stand. In the beginning everyone seemed cool and understanding, but at one point I noticed she didn’t really do anything and didn’t seem to want to. And, even though I always liked to take the lead on every project I participated in, I knew nothing about being an actual team leader. So, being the “awesome” person I was, when she started complaining that we didn’t include her in anything, we got into a fight and I yelled at her in front of everyone – not just our team, but a room full of people, and then blamed it all on her. Pretty cool, right? She, of course, left our team and I felt really proud of myself, since I was convinced we were better off. Whether we did or she was actually a nice person who we didn’t find the right way to talk to, I never found out.

How Can I Have Possibly Changed?! Let Me Give 3 Factors:

  1. Embarrassing as it is to admit this, it took leaving my country to start understanding others better. Understanding others and their behaviors has everything to do with being able to accept criticism. I became more open and stopped being constrained within the borders of my country. It sounds bad, but what I mean is – when you live in a place where the mentality of many people around you is old-fashioned and sealed off to the world and its values, you tend to behave the same way without realizing it. When I went to live abroad for the first time I met so many new people with different mindsets and cultures that when they criticized me for something for the first time (a dress I had on) it never even crossed my mind to get angry. We laughed it off and I never wore anything that short. Okay, that’s a lie. And you rolled your eyes again.
  2. What else helps? Undergoing criticism every day. When I went to live in Spain, I couldn’t speak a word of Spanish and little did I know no one there spoke English. I had to start studying Economics and Marketing immediately, I had exams, presentations – everything in Spanish. I had to talk to my teachers who didn’t speak English either (don’t get me started) and weren’t too happy about my Spanish, to say the least. If memory serves, one of them yelled at me for it. When I finally started understanding the language I was happy to find out they were comparing me to a blind dog who couldn’t read. And yet, I haven’t heard about any of them being filthy rich for finding a dog who can read.
  3. Sarcasm, sarcasm, sarcasm. Remember Chandler?

Life Lessons By Chandler

Those who’ve watched Friends love him. If you haven’t, the most important thing about him: he uses humor as a defence mechanism. You’d think that’s not good, but in my opinion it is, and it helps a lot! Let’s leave constructive criticism out for now and let’s take the purely offensive type. Every time someone tries to offend me on purpose, I turn into Chandler.

Only difference – when I do that, I’m not uncomfortable anymore. Just recently I had to deal with an imbecile under one of my status updates and guess what – as an unintelligent lowlife, he had a lot to say. When he saw I made fun of all of his pathetic attempts to get me all riled up, he fled the scene. And that’s what usually happens! People trying to offend you can’t stand it when you don’t take them seriously, because they don’t take themselves seriously either and desperately seek validation from others.

Next time when someone tries, don’t go all terminator on him – just try it my way. I can guarantee – you’ll feel much better afterwards.


What I really want to emphasize here: let go of all the anger and the “I’m better than you” attitude when someone is trying to tell you something you don’t like. I’ll admit, I still have it sometimes, but I’m working on it. And you should too, because if you do – you will learn a lot about yourself and others. And you’ll be a pretty little girl.

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