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How To Deal With Painful Criticism

The world can be a negative place, especially when you expose your vulnerabilities online or in a public forum.

Recently, I published a new fiction short story called “Trey’s Tale,” which you can find on the Social Musings by Austin website here.

Response to the story has been overwhelmingly positive (thank you all) with over 500 of you reading about a disgruntled robot who embarks on a journey in search of happiness.

"Trey's Tale" is my finest work yet. So I was surprised to receive negative feedback from a family member.

The e-mail began:

Not buying it Austin.

And continued:

The piece you wrote about the robot is not something you should be putting out there for more folks to see.   


“all of the above does not qualify you as a great writer.  It does not mean everything you do is gold.”


That’s a way to knock someone down a peg or two.

I understand that these family members may be trying to be protective of me and give me guidance in line with their worldview.

Yet, I have heard this drivel my entire life: "Don’t ever express your emotions. Don’t veer from the normal path. Get back into line. Behave yourself."

I have had enough of that philosophy.

I adhered to it for most of my life, and like my Corporate America job, I have shed society’s yoke. Perhaps the older generations don’t understand.

While the critical e-mail clearly upset me, I decided to use it as a catalyst for introspection.

First, I reminded myself that you are never going to please all of the people all of the time. Then I thought about all of the positive critique I received from readers.

Comments like:

“Had a chance to read Trey’s Tale…I love it”

“Austin…Keep up the great work! This year you made an impact in my life. Keep on doing what you’re doing because it matters and it helps.”

“I’m in awe of you. You are a terrific storyteller and writer.”

This self-reflection cheered me up.

Finally, I worked out at the gym, then did a Peloton yoga class and got a good night’s sleep.

The next day (as if I was emerging from BenneLuna) I emerged refreshed and with a better mindset. The sky was not falling after all.

Similarly, I submitted an original fiction story of mine from 2021 called “Dating Apps Can Be Deadly,” to a prestigious short story competition. You can find that story here.

Several months later, I received the following email.

I was not expecting any recognition for this story, and I am proud of myself that I actually tried. I was one of 660 writers in fact who did. Never before have I ever submitted any piece of work for a creative competition, so I view it as a win that I am achieving career firsts at this stage in my life.

We all deal with rejection. However, it takes effort to view failure as another reason to try again.

I know I will keep trying, and I urge you to do so too. In fact, I have already submitted “Trey’s Tale” for consideration in many other writing competitions. I don't expect to win, but any recognition would be welcome. Fingers crossed.

Thank you, Reader, for being a constant support to me, and I promise to do my best to bring you high-quality, original content in 2023.

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1 Comment

Wow! That family member's comments were just outright mean. They had nothing to do with your story, which I really enjoyed and empathized with. I don't even know how they were relevant. What's up with them?????

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