I don’t think I’ve ever told y’all this story, but I thought today would be a good day for it. I know most of you are probably wondering, “Where is this coming from?” Well, I’ll tell you. Lately, there has been a rash of comments on the blog coming from these critics who feel the need to tell me not only what they think of my rooms, my house, and my projects, but they also inject plenty of personal digs at me.
These aren’t the nice people like most of you who can offer constructive criticism in a nice way like rational adults do, the way a friend would share with another friend. But these are people who toss around words like grenades, obviously intending to hurt and offend.
These are the people who tell me things like “This house is a circus act,” or, “I think that half of your “fans” tell you what a great job you’ve done but they are shaking their heads and waiting for your next train wreck idea,” or that the “crap” I add to my house (specifically mentioning the mural I’m going to use in the bathroom) makes my house look like “a 12 year old girl got ahold of your home,” or “I’m surprised that you actually worked as a professional decorator/designer.”
Just because I love it so much, here’s a peek at my future bathroom designed by my inner 12-year-old. 😀
The funny thing about these comments is that they always come from people who claim to be long-time readers who have read my blog for years, and yet their “I’m done!” comment is the first comment they’ve ever left on my blog (yes, I check IP addresses out of curiosity to see what else the person has said on past posts, and it’s almost always a big fat NOTHING).
And I always laugh at the “I’m out!” comments allegedly coming from adults who are behaving like petulant three-year-olds who didn’t get their way on the playground, so they’re going to take their toys and go home while stomping their feet and pouting. It’s just hard for me to imagine actual adults behaving this way, and it’s especially hard for me to imagine a person being so mentally and emotionally fragile that the things an internet stranger does in her own home sends them into these these fits.
When I’m following a blogger and I’m not longer interested in what that blogger is doing, I simply stop reading. I don’t announce my departure (a blog is not an airport, so there’s no need to announce departures) presuming that the blogger would even care. I don’t pop off about how stupid that blogger’s projects are or how much I hate that blogger’s house. I just simply stop reading. When I’m scrolling blog posts or Instagram and see stuff I don’t like, I just move on. Never in my adult life would I think of telling another human that their house is “a circus act” just because I don’t like it. Never in my mind would I presume that just because I don’t like something, that must mean that everyone else hates it, so that must also mean that that blogger’s readers are simply waiting for her “next train wreck idea.” I just don’t think I could muster up that much petulance mixed with narcissism. That’s kind of a different topic, though. Let me get back on track so I can tell you my story…
Another strange thing about these comments is that they tend to come in batches. And that always makes me wonder if they’re coming from the same place. And that thought always makes me laugh, because it reminds me of the exact moment I genuinely stopped caring what these pouty, petulant critics had to say about me.
When I read the most recent of these comments to Matt a couple of days ago, I told him this story. He said, “I knew that something had changed several years ago, but I never knew that’s why!”
So I thought I’d share the story with all of you. Maybe it’ll help some of you. Maybe you’re in a position where people are being critical and rude to you, and you’re having a hard time not taking it personally. Maybe it’s regarding the way you decorate your own home. Maybe it’s about the artwork or craft that you love to create. Maybe it’s about the way you do your job, or run your business, or something else.
Maybe my story will help you to break free from actually caring what your rude critics (not to be confused with actual friends or helpful people offering constructive criticism) have to say. Because, let me tell you something. When you’re so bound up with worry and anxiety over what your critics think, that’s a miserable feeling, and it can feel kind of mentally and emotionally paralyzing, prohibiting you from any forward movement because of fear of criticism.
But when you realize they truly don’t matter, and you can actually laugh at and move on from their criticism and word grenades, it’s such a freeing feeling. And that freedom will allow you to try new things, and take chances you never would have before.
That doesn’t always mean you’ll succeed (example, my sitting room wall mural), but at least you can have the freedom to challenge yourself, to try new things, and most importantly, you can give yourself the freedom to fail and to even tell others about it while not being destroyed by it. Because in those moments when we don’t quite get it right, we learn, and we grow, and we become stronger and more determined.
Here’s my story…
There used to be an online forum where people would gather to discuss bloggers. I honestly have no idea if this site still exists, although I would guess that it does. (The name sometimes appears in the Google auto-fill dropdown options when I’m searching for projects that other bloggers have done, so I assume it’s still around.)
The people involved in these “discussions” would try to convince themselves that they were just giving constructive criticism, but it wasn’t that. This forum was filled with some of the meanest, pettiest, most vindictive people online. It was a cesspool of negativity, and it was the kind of place where the whole group as pulled down to the lowest common denominator. I mean, that’s just Sociology 101. A group will never be pulled up to the highest level. But instead, the whole group will get pulled down to the lowest level present in the group.
BUT…I was obsessed. I would go there every day to see if anything was being said about me. I’d hope and pray that they liked me, and I would be devastated if anyone ever said anything critical of me or my projects. I hung on every word. When a critical comment was left (which was inevitable in that environment), I would be devastated. It would literally ruin my entire day. It didn’t matter how many positive comments people were leaving on my actual blog posts. One critical comment on that forum would send me into a tail spin.
I don’t know how long this went on, but it was not healthy at all. It was affecting me mentally and emotionally. It was affecting my attitude all day long. I literally cried tears over some of the things that were said. It was causing me to second-guess literally every decision I was making about my house. It was causing me to feel very insecure. And on, and on. It’s like I was living in a mental prison I had built for myself, and it was miserable.
And then one day I went to that site, just like I did almost every single day, and I read the latest comment, And in that single moment, I was literally set free from that bondage of caring what these petty, petulant critics had to say about me, my house, my blog, or anything else. That single comment was so absurd that in an instant, it woke me up to the sheer absurdity of ALL of it. With one single comment, it wasn’t just a light bulb that went off in my head. It was like an entire football stadium filled with lights went off in my head, and it illuminated the insignificance of the words, the criticisms, the insults, the judgments about me, about my character, about the way I decorated or spent my money…ALL of it. It literally all happened in a single moment.
And I have not been back to that website since then. I was set free. And from that moment, I have not even been a tiny bit curious, and I have not given a care in the world what those morons have to say about anything regarding my life. I don’t know how long it’s been. Three years? Four? I have no idea. I don’t care about that, either. All I know is that one comment freed me from my anxiety over what critics and idiots have to say about me.
The funny thing is that the comment wasn’t even about me. It was about Matt. As long as the critical comments and insults were directed at me, I could never see them for what they were. But the moment a person directed that towards Matt, everything was illuminated for me, and I was free.
I know y’all want to know now what the comment was. 🙂 Since I don’t care to go back so I can copy and paste it exactly word-for-word, I’ll just paraphrase. It went something like this: “I just don’t understand why her husband can’t help her with anything. I mean, I know he’s in a wheelchair, but at least he could pick up a paint brush and paint some trim or something.”
OH MY GOSH.
Like I said, all it took was one singular moment. In an instant, I realized that I was getting all twisted up inside over the opinions and criticism and insults of total and complete morons. Absolute freaking idiots. I don’t have any idea who wrote that comment, but I will forever and always be grateful to her because the sheer volume of stupidity wrapped up in just a few words was like a bowling ball hitting me in the face. And that’s exactly what I needed to knock sense into my head and realize how ridiculous I was being by obsessing over the words of these people.
Yes, Matt is in a wheelchair…because he has multiple sclerosis. He doesn’t have a spinal cord injury that has left his legs paralyzed while his upper body is still strong and healthy. He has a disease that has affected every part of his body, every single muscle, all of his nerves.
I want my wheelchair-bound (and often bedridden) husband with multiple sclerosis helping me paint trim in our house every bit as much as I want a two-year-old at my house helping me paint trim, because the results would be about the same. Actually, I could probably put a paint brush loaded with paint in my dog Cooper’s mouth and point him to the trim and end up with better results than I could if I put a paint brush in Matt’s hand.
To be clear, I don’t fault people for not knowing that information. If you’ve never known anyone with MS, then you might not know how it affects the body, and how it affects people’s physical abilities. But it wasn’t her not understanding MS that woke me up.
What woke me up is the fact that rather than ask me directly, “Hey, Kristi, why exactly can’t Matt help you?” or even just getting online and doing five minutes of research on the topic, instead she was so desperate to be part of the piling on and negativity of the group that she was willing to say something so stupid and presumptuous about a topic that she obviously knew nothing about, and make herself look like an absolute moron in the process by presuming that Matt should be able to pick up a brush and paint trim, and insinuating that he was lazy for not doing so.
And why? Because negativity attracts negativity, and groups will always be pulled down to the lowest common denominator. And when people are involved in stuff like that, they lose all sensibility. They want to be part of the piling on regardless of how stupid it makes them look.
So again, I have no idea how long ago that was. I do know that it’s been multiple years, though. And I will never forget that comment, and I will never forget that one single moment when it literally felt like stadium lights went off in my brain, and I was finally free from the bondage and anxiety of being all twisted up inside over what my critics thought about me.
And I hope that you don’t get twisted up inside over what your critics say (or might be saying) about you. Don’t allow that in your life, because it will hold you back from great things. Go and decorate your home the way YOU like it. Go and create that artwork that you’ve been wanting to create, regardless of whether or not your critics like it. Go and take that chance with your business, no matter how much your critics tell you how dumb your ideas are.
Don’t be held back by idiots and morons with word grenades. Listen to your true friends whose criticism is actually constructive, and who can deliver that constructive criticism with kindness. But mostly, just be true to yourself. If chartreuse is your favorite color in the whole world, and you’ve always dreamed of a chartreuse bedroom, who cares what anyone else says? Be true to YOU.
Those other people who just hurl word grenades? They don’t matter. They never have, but it’s time for all of us to actually realize that and stop allowing them to affect our lives, our choices, and our attitudes, and to stop allowing them to hold us back from doing things and trying things and taking chances.
So I hope that encourages some of you. And for those of you who didn’t need that encouragement, hopefully I entertained you a bit. 😀
And I’ll leave y’all with some views of my “circus” of a house filled with my “train wreck ideas” that look like they were done by a “12 year old girl” and makes people “surprised that [I] actually worked as a professional decorator/designer.”
Frankly, I love my circus filled with my train wreck ideas. And you know what? When it comes right down to it, mine is the only opinion that matters (and Matt’s opinion also matters, of course, on the very rare occasion that he actually has an opinion). 🙂
Addicted 2 Decorating is where I share my DIY and decorating journey as I remodel and decorate the 1948 fixer upper that my husband, Matt, and I bought in 2013. Matt has M.S. and is unable to do physical work, so I do the majority of the work on the house by myself. You can learn more about me here.
I hope you’ll join me on my DIY and decorating journey! If you want to follow my projects and progress, you can subscribe below and have each new post delivered to your email inbox. That way you’ll never miss a thing!