I’ve never felt more uncertain of my life choices than when I was taking Newspaper Writing in college. My teacher eviscerated every single article I wrote in that class. Never a word of kindness or encouragement. Everything I got from him was change this, clarify this, you needed more people, start again.
At the end of the semester, every student in the class had a private conference with him where he would explain what he thought of the student’s progress. Certain I wasn’t cut out to be a journalist, I mentally prepared for rejection before walking into his office. There I got the surprise of my life.
“You’re one of the best writers in the class. I’m recommending you for the school newspaper.”
What?!? How was I one of the best writers? You hated everything I wrote!
It turns out that he was extra critical of my work because he saw promise and wanted me to improve. Because of him, I’ve learned that criticism (honest criticism, not just being nasty) is a sign that someone sees potential. This attitude also comes into play with roller derby.
Last week, one drill was giving me trouble. I kept psyching myself out instead of just throwing myself into it. Goldie Bloxx looked me dead in the eye and said, “You aren’t moving on until you can pass me correctly.”
Goldie isn’t mean, but she has an authoritative voice. When she tells you something, she means it. The rest of the night it seemed like every time I turned around she was right there. Every look from her said, “I’m making sure you give 110%.”
After practice, Goldie announced that there was time to go over skills anyone wanted to improve. She stared right at me while she said it. I stayed.
The next time someone points out something you haven’t mastered, don’t think “well, I suck” or “that person is just picking on me”. Most likely, they have pointed it out because they see potential. Ask the person what you can do to improve and thank them for taking the time. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been skating. There is always, ALWAYS room for improvement.