"To escape criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing."
~ Elbert Hubbard
The day job I have - writing and events - means that I'm prone to criticism whenever there's a spelling mistake or a misunderstanding or an omission of information in an invitation. When I write content at work, it comes back to me with track changes and red pen marks and arrows and opinions. I've learned to take this sort of criticism less personally - after all I'm presenting fact, rather than personal opinion - and use it to improve next time I write.
Choosing to blog and write outside of work has also meant I've had to develop a sense of resilience. Everyone's an editor, everyone's a critic, and they're not afraid to voice it.
After blogging about the Typo retard card last week, the reality of high readership, divisive opinions and the way people value words hit me. Of course, I am open to differing opinion, but when I am personally criticised for something I believe in - respect for people with disabilities - it can be hard. I resassured myself that many of the readers and commenters had come to my blog fresh, and with no context about why I write, or my involvement in the disability community. And from the comments I received on Twitter, Facebook and this blog, I realised that the issue needed to be raised to help people think different about how they use derogatory words.
Mia Freedman wrote about having thick skin. "Someone once said to me “What other people think of you is none of your business”. I think that’s excellent advice but it’s not always easy to follow. Because no matter how much you try not to care or be diverted by mindless abuse from strangers who can’t spell and use exclamation points with gay abandon, it can be tricky to look away."
It can be tricky. And for every positive comment I receive, the negative ones play on my mind more. Most bloggers say they write for themselves. I think this is true of myself to an extent - I don't consider my blog's audience as much as my audience at work. It feels great to have a readership, recognition and discussion generated. But when writing comes from a place of personal experience or strong belief, opinions from others can sting. Sometimes the sting is the same feeling as when my skin is sore and I rip off my stocking, leaving it bloody and throbbing. And fortunately like my skin, a sense of renewal ensues and the sting doesn't linger too long.
These past three weeks or so I've felt the skin on the sole of my foot gradually tear away from the arch. And it's become unbearably painful this long weekend. The pain is piercing and throbbing and makes my foot very hard to walk on, touch or have fabric next to. My feet are very ticklish too so I feel like I am aware of every movement or touch on my foot.
I am currently on the couch with my legs elevated, and my foot is drying from a salt bath. I'll spare you a photo of the wound site, because it is quite yucky. But here is a photo of my bandaged (Tubefasted?) foot last night - Mum and I went to St Kilda for Spanish Tapas - will blog about it soon. I was hobbling and I did realise that for one in my life, wearing heels would have been the more sensible option over flats because walking on the ball of my foot took the pressure off the pain. Sadly that is the only outfit photo from last night.
This physical skin fragility has put the need for metaphorical skin thickness into perspective. The criticism I receive writing and putting my opinion out there could never be as painful as the skin tear and infection on my foot.
It hasn't been all doom and gloom this long weekend. Mum's been here and we have had a nice time cooking and eating good food, cleaning up a bit and drinking wine. I received some super exciting news which I will be able to reveal publicly soon. I also booked my flights to Los Angeles and New York via Auckland - thanks for all the airline advice on Twitter - I'll be flying Air New Zealand. I arrive in Los Angeles on 22 July and get to New York on 26 July, returning 12 August! And I also bought a new washing machine because mine broke. Looks like I'll be living on beans and rice until the end of the year to pay for it all.