Criticism proves beneficial

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Think of some moment in your life when you achieved something you were proud of and worked hard at something you loved. Now think back to what inspired you to accomplish that. It was always criticism that pushed me to excel.

When people tell me I can’t do something, that I won’t make it or I’m not good enough, I thrive, do my best and prove them wrong.

There are two instances where I can look back at my life and see a clear picture of these motivational moments.

In high school before my junior year, I was playing three sports a year. I played volleyball in the fall, basketball in the winter and ran track in the spring.

I was never an all-star at any of them, but it was fun and I could hold my own. One day, the head coach of the volleyball program was talking to my mom about the next batch of varsity players.

While I figured he would tell my mom some generic line about me working hard and the possibility of playing time, I heard him say words that altered my entire athletic career. He told my mom I had no motivation, lacked talent and frankly he didn’t see me having any future with athletics.

My epiphany hit.

My mom, of course, reassured me like the caring woman she is, then she asked me what my passion really was, and if I enjoyed sports.

I thought for awhile and realized I loved sprinting down the court and making fast-paced breaks. I loved the physical drain and adrenaline rush after a long volley. Ultimately, I loved coming around that curve towards the finish line. These all pointed toward the same single fact: I loved to run.

When the fall of my junior year came, I decided to quit volleyball and basketball and focus on my true love for track and running. When I quit, I was told by my coaches and other parents that I was making a poor decision by quitting and I’d never be conditioned enough for track in the spring.

I focused myself on running and preparing for the spring. By the time I was a senior I had qualified for sections, broken multiple personal records and came a single second away from breaking a school record.

Today, I still run races in various communities and am training for my first marathon. But more important than any time or place I finished at was the true friends I made on the track team, the leadership qualities I held as captain and the love of running I discovered; all because I was told I never would.

After my first semester of college, I’d done poorly in a class and my professor told me I was out of luck. He said maybe I should take an easier class and there was nothing left I could do. This is college, I didn’t expect to be coddled, but I still took his words to heart.

I hit the books harder and changed majors to something that interested me more and gave me a better chance in a future career. I became more motivated for my schoolwork and achieved much higher grades.

When I say I like criticism, I mean that. It sounds abnormal to enjoy being criticized, but if you can manage to turn it into fuel for motivation it can do wonders.

Positive reinforcement always helps, and my family and close friends were always there when I needed to hear it. But the negative remarks were there when I needed to hear them too, and I’m thankful for that.

Without enduring that negative feedback and using it to my advantage, I may have never discovered what I’m capable of. It is never a bad thing to hear a little criticism now and again.

Mary Ochs is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected].

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