CITY GIRL: To all young and ambitious people, don’t allow critics to define your purpose in life - Nairobi News
11 months ago, 9 Dec 12:11
Each week, I receive an avalanche of emails reacting to this column. While some agree with me, a good number disagree, some quiet strongly. This comes with the territory. I often find myself directly in the line of fire, having to deal with harsh criticism and sometimes personal attacks. But this is what makes a columnist. We writers are a stoic folk, tough as they come, made of thick skin and an endurance that lasts a lifetime. We take criticism — constructive or otherwise — with courage, stoicism and fortitude. Criticism is the juice that flows in our toughened veins when we retreat to our creative, introverted caves. It is every writer’s nightmare to write and have nobody critique, criticise or react to their work. It means that nobody read. In the close to four years I have been running this column, there are few slurs under the sun that have not come my way. As a result, I believe I am qualified to advise you on how to handle criticism. Few columnists have borne the kind of criticism that I have faced over the past few years. I will admit that initially, the criticism got to my heart. Nothing prepared me for the mental strength and emotional stamina required to run a weekly, somewhat controversial column. At first, the brickbats made me doubt myself and my writing ability. I spent quite a number of sleepless nights contemplating whether to give it all up and just walk away. However, the stubborn fighter in me did not allow me to give up. MAKE US BETTER I began to ask and answer a difficult and fundamental question about myself. “Who is Njoki Chege?” The day I learnt not to define myself, my talents and my future by what the critics said about me is the day I was set free and my life truly began. People criticise you for different reasons. Frankly, some are just jealous. Others are resentful because your success highlights their inadequacies. Others are bitter that you took a short time to achieve what many take years to achieve. But I have this to say to the young people; some will criticise you because you represent something they no longer have — youth and energy. Others will criticise you because of the institution you represent, while others will criticise you simply because they are disillusioned. Most criticism comes from a place of insecurity and a deep sense of inadequacy. The bugging question most critics are battling with is “Why her/him and not me?” Lastly, some will criticise you because truly and honestly, you need to pull up your socks. Criticism always has a layer of truth, which is why you will ignore criticism at your own peril. When all is said and done, critics make us better. They build us and make us stronger than we ever thought we would be. Critics may aim to discourage you, but if you took the aspect that you need and leave out ...
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