Moving past negative criticism.

Most of us deal with negative criticism at some point in our lives. Sometimes, we rally and triumph. At other times, we absorb the aspersions and internalize them for good. They become our inner dialogue and we bash ourselves as readily as our critics do.


As an author, I receive negative criticisms all the time. It’s part of the package. I learned early on not everyone will be a fan of my stories and that’s okay. We can’t all like the same things. I’m fortunate in that I have a large number of readers who enjoy my work and I try not to obsess over the ones who don’t.

However, like most people, I felt the sting of criticism at a young age, before writing was part of my career. In fact, there is one particular moment that defined how I saw myself and that taught me I need to be careful who I choose to believe. This instance is one that made it into one of my books. In my recent paranormal release Night Lover, heroine Renata is a talented soprano, but she must deal with a conductor boss who hasn’t given her any credit.


The man says to her:Β β€œIn life, Renata, there are those who are born to play starring roles. There are those with walk-on parts. And then there are those who occupy the background. You are one of those background singers. Leave the showy stuff to those who understand it.”

Of course, Renata overcomes adversity and goes on to have a brilliant career. She must make the decision to disregard her conductor’s mean-spirited comments.

These words were basically said to me once, a long time ago. Always involved in the arts, I used to take part in community theater productions. I performed in all sorts of shows and in various roles. For one production, I rehearsed very hard before auditioning for one of the lead roles. I didn’t get the lead. Rather, the producer hired his wife for the role. This man later pulled me aside and said, “Rosanna, in theater and in life, there are those who are born to play starring roles. There are those who play secondary characters. And then there are those who are only good enough for the chorus. Background players, like you.”

I was crushed. This man was older and more experienced than I was. Instead of taking an opportunity to coach me, he tore me down. I was miserable during that whole production and never worked with his ensemble again.

I could have abandoned music and singing. I certainly considered it. When someone tells you you’re worthless, it’s hard not to absorb the insult. However, I decided I wouldn’t allow one petty man’s words to shape my life.

Still in university, I auditioned for the University of Toronto’s acclaimed Faculty of Music. It isn’t easy to get in, but I got into the singing program. After finishing my B.A., I completed a three-year diploma in Vocal Performance. Right out of university, I got a singing job with the Elmer Iseler Singers, one of Toronto’s most renowned classical choral ensembles. I got the chance to sing at famed venues here in Toronto: Roy Thomson Hall, Massey Hall, and performed with groups such as the Canadian Brass.

I fulfilled my dream of becoming a classical soprano. After a time, I decided to move onto new challenges, but I did exactly what I wanted. And now, with writing romance, I’ve realized another dream and have used some of my experiences in my plots.

Every so often, I still hear that community theater producer’s voice in my ear, telling me I’m not good enough. That I don’t have talent. But then I remember how much I’ve accomplished.

I now know the truth: that man probably tried to make me feel insignificant because he recognized something in me that he didn’t possess. He was likely more insecure about his talents than I should have been about mine. Sadly, there are those in life who will always strive to drag us down instead of encouraging us.

We owe it to ourselves to look past the criticisms and aim high. We need to educate ourselves and decide the best tactic for realizing our dreams. When we say no to negativity, it’s amazing how the road clears. Sometimes the worst obstacles are the ones we set for ourselves.


22 thoughts on “Moving past negative criticism.

  1. Terrific post, and very good advice! It’s wonderful that you were able to study music at such a high level. What an amazing experience! I’m so glad you were able to channel that negative criticism into something wonderful — I definitely recognized that conductor and I’m sure most people can relate to this. I was so happy for Renata when she got the part she wanted!


    • Thank you, Jessica. I worked very hard and was also very fortunate to receive the opportunities I did. Others, I had to create for myself. I’m glad Renata’s struggle spoke to you as well.


  2. What a rotter that man was. I’m so glad you pushed on from that to do all the things you wanted and were so successful. Defeating negativity is hard work but as you say well worth the effort.


  3. Thank you for sharing that. I’m very glad you (and Renata) have overcome and are able to share about it. This makes me think of what our own words do for / to others.


    • Thanks, Joni. I have no doubt that producer never realized the impact his words had. Or, if he did, that would make him worse. We have such power over others with a few phrases. Since receiving that treatment, I’ve made it a goal to always try to spread a positive word, rather than a negative one. I appreciate you visiting.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Love this.
    Once in a RWA group an Editor gave free evaluations. She wanted me to change my underwater series so much that I didn’t recognize the characters. Another author, Jodi Redford, emailed me to go with my gut. My story was original. I wrote it and went to my first book signing. An indie book store owner read my book and put it in his store. I’m glad I didn’t allow her to throw a wet blanket on my fire. .


    • I’m so glad you stuck to your guns, Cora. I’m sure people mean to help in most situations, but when you no longer recognize your story, there’s a problem. Thanks for sharing your story and congrats!


  5. What a wonderful story. Love this post and am going to bookmark it because this is something we encounter time and time again. Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚


    • Thanks so much, Olivia! I appreciate that bookmark. πŸ™‚ We do encounter this, far too often. It can feel wonderful, however, to turn the tables and reclaim our inner warrior.


    • Thank you, Sophie. It is a human trait. We all doubt ourselves, especially in the face of other people doubting. It isn’t easy recovering from such criticism, but it’s my hope everyone who experiences with have a similar epiphany. Hugs!


  6. Well said and thank you for sharing your experience. I know we should not remember these things, but we all do. We can have hundreds of positive praise, but it’s that one negative one that we remember. However, taking the negativity and following your own path is indeed a tremendous success!


  7. Rosanna, you are an inspiration to me and women the world over. It’s hard to hold tight to that self-belief when someone is trying to tear you down. Thanks for sharing this personal story, a mentor’s mantra against ugly, hurtful judgement. I am so proud to know you!


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