I shook, and I couldn’t stop. I felt it coming, my vision became blurry with tears and my throat clogged up with barely controlled sobs. It took everything in me to not completely break down in the classroom, but every part of me wanted to fall to the floor and cry.

Receiving criticism is something I’ve never been great at. In fact, I take it like a knife to the heart with the weapon sinking deeper with each critique my professor directs at me. I take it as a personal attack against me, but I fail to realize that my professors are just trying to help me.

Constructive criticism is never meant to hurt us. It’s supposed to make us stronger and become better. It’s a reality check that spurs us to success.

However, it’s hard to recognize that criticism promotes personal growth when some see it as others pointing out flaws or failures. Instead of criticism helping to positively encourage people, it ends up pushing some down because they aren’t mentally prepared for what’s it’s like to fail.

“Everybody’s got to get a trophy, and that’s the thing though. Everybody is great. Then what about the kids who really do stand out and really do excel?” PSUC Associate Professor of Public Relations and Journalism Colleen Lemza, said.

You cannot measure someone’s inadequacy hidden behind “excellency” with a plastic trophy or laminated certificate.

It’s a lie.

Those gifts given to us when we were little kids, brandishing us with glory we didn’t even know how to deserve, has set us up to thinking that if we are average, that means we are extraordinary.

When we were young, adults took one pitying look at our pouty, baby faces and just wanted to make us feel better.

Winning “Most Improved” or “Best Smile” in school won’t get you a job, but it does make you feel important for a little while. But that natural high wears off, and you’re then left with your own mediocrity.

However, you do not hold all of the blame. You share it with the person you pressed that trophy in your hands with a pitying smile, not recognizing then that they were affecting your standards for success. Instead of setting that bar to reaching your excellence high, they curled your fingers around it.

Criticism is essential to our growth, not just as college students, but as people. It makes us stronger and gives us the ability to accept that we are not amazing because we had a trophy placed in our hands but because we earned that trophy.

“If you’re told all along how wonderful you are, and perfect and sweet, and then all of a sudden you get told that ‘alright, you’re not perfect, this isn’t good,” “It’s just a whole lot more crushing,” Lemza said.

Accept criticism as a stepping stone to your future success.

You’re failing yourself when you refuse constructive criticism. I know it’s easier to crumble and cry in your room, as I have done many times before. It’s much simpler to cast those words that help us grow as the reason for our downfall, but you have to push past that in order to achieve your own inner greatness. Your parents, friends and teachers want to watch you blossom, not to see you remain a seed that’s too afraid to grow.

Email Shania Savastio at shania.savastio@cardinalpointsonline.com

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