Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Feedback Can Suck Sometimes

Feedback.  It's good.  Mostly.

Especially when it's good, I can't get enough.  When I post a picture on Facebook and someone "likes" it, I instantly turn into Sally Field and want to thank them for liking me, really liking me.

Maybe it is the whole middle child syndrome or the whole child of divorced parents syndrome, but I am sort of always looking for positive feedback.  Ugh.  So annoying I know.  Elizabeth Gilbert has this great line in "Eat, Pray, Love" about how she felt as if she was "tap dancing for pennies of affirmation" her whole life.  It was a real aha  moment when I read that.  If I could have given Ms. Gilbert instant feedback, I would have "liked" her a lot.

As you probably guessed, I don't handle negative or so-called constructive criticism so great.  Years ago when I wrote a column for a local newspaper, the paper conducted a mail-in survey for reader feedback.  Yes, it was that long ago that the paper didn't even have a web site for all those lovely instant comments.  

I was also one of the editors of the paper so I worked in the office.  I was lucky enough to be in that office when a woman brought in her survey.  She felt so passionately about her comments she wanted to hand deliver them.  "Who the hell writes Adventures in Suburbia?," the woman asked as she slapped down her survey on the front desk.  Hearing the name of my column said with such disgust I lied and said with a nervous smile, "Oh she isn't here right now."  

"Well tell her to shut up and get some real problems," the angry woman huffed.  "I mean my god, that writer is so damn annoying."

"Ok, I'll let her know how you feel," I told her with the same dumb smile on my face.  The woman was so irritated with my column I was afraid of her.  And devastated.  

So, of course I reacted by not writing my column anymore.  It didn't matter that there was only one person that gave me such an extremely negative review and many others that liked what I wrote.  Can you believe it?  I was young and such a pleaser.

Hopefully I have matured and can handle if people find my blogs annoying.  I will however be fearful if someone feels the need to berate me in person.

I say that I have matured, but I am not so sure.  

Now that our house is up for sale there is a whole new arena for feedback.  It is like being pregnant--people say things that you just can't believe.  "WHEN is your due date?  Are you sure it's not twins? Is your due date wrong, you are huge!"  I heard those a lot with all of my pregnancies.  Nice feedback people.  And of course I cried a lot.

When people find out our house is for sale people offer unsolicited advice or feedback.  "Oh, have you thought of renovating?" Uh, yeah, a thousand times and even have the plans drawn up.  When pushed I tell people we have some money issues and need to sell, they again offer some unsolicited advice.  "Have you thought of refinancing?" No, never thought of that, what a great idea!!! Ugh, of course we tried refinancing, loan modifying, pleading, etc.  A possible short sale was one of our last options and not an easy decision.

The real estate agency is even offering instant online feedback.  Emails tell us what people think of our house after coming to a showing.  "The rooms are too small."  When I read this I was very upset.  Even though I have been complaining about the rooms being too small for 10 years, they are my small rooms damn it.  It is like the whole idea of I can make jokes about my family, but you better not because that is just mean.  

Maybe I haven't matured as much as I'd hoped.

The other day I noticed that my blog came up in a google search for "loud, brash moms."  (In the behind-the-scenes of blogland you can see how your  blog is searched, URLS, traffic sources, etc.)  Really?  What the hell?  Loud, brash?  I felt a familiar twinge of defensiveness.  And a whiney inner voice asking "why don't they like me?"  

But then, I laughed.  I am indeed sometimes loud and brash.  I am also compassionate and loving.  And a lot of other things good and bad.  Don't get me wrong, I am still doing the old tap dance; still want people to like me and what I say, but I am way less dependent on it.
Me with a very full pew, I mean life, at a recent wedding.
My life is fuller and age has brought me some perspective thank god. (Besides I can deal with the fact that I did look like I was having twins each time I was pregnant and the rooms in my house are really small.)  But just in case, only leave nice comments. I am kidding, sort of.

Of course sometimes we can be the worst about negative feedback to ourselves.  Just like this clip from the great Tina Fey.

1 comment:

  1. Being a middle child of a divorced family, you may be on to something with the tap dancing. :) When I turned thirty, I gave myself the gift of not caring anymore what people thought of me. It has worked, mostly. When it isn't working, though...ouch!
    Amy (Heitman)