I’m studying multimedia, so a big part of my education is through constructive criticism. At times, it can be rough. There are some professors who will take your work and rip it apart bit by bit, piece by piece, until you feel like your very soul has been trampled upon in the form of your hard work and dedication. Really. It gets hard sometimes. The only thing you can do is grin and bear it, though. A lot of the time, you aren’t even allowed to defend yourself.
The thing to realize, regardless of how heartless the delivery, the intention is to teach. The process is sometimes very trying. You get the “nicer” profs now and then, but really…sometimes you just want to go hide away in a lonely dark place and cry. It comes with the trade.
You need a thick skin and a sense of humor. Professional criticism is something I’ve adjusted to. Sometimes when your work is getting ripped apart, you need to be able to find the humor. I’m sitting in an especially harsh Digital Photography critique as I type this, and I’m struck by the change in the students around me. Many of my classmates have never had formal critiques before. In the seven and a half weeks we’ve been together, there’s been massive growth. People talk now. They joke. They laugh. They don’t take things personally.
This is something everyone should be equipped with, not just us artists. Sometimes, when life hands you some trial, whether it’s criticism or even a personal struggle, a sense of humor and an ability to take a few blows is the best adaptation you can have.
Coming from someone who gets grades for having grace under fire, this really can make all the difference. Humor can be a wonderful coping mechanism, or can be the thing that turns you into a “duck” as my boyfriend would say. (It just rolls right off your back, like water.) So, as I sit here listening to photographs getting ripped to shreds by a very talented but very ruthless professor, I’m reminded of this.
Smile. Nod. And learn. That’s sometimes all you can outwardly do.