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  • Karen E. Osborne

Believing in You

I don’t remember the month or year when I started believing I was a talented workshop leader and public speaker. In the beginning, long before electronic evaluations, I’d pore over the written critiques immediately after a talk. Flipping through, seeking words of praise, and being hurt by the one or two people who had something negative to say.

At some point, I started waiting for the conference host to send me the compilation. But still, I swept through them searching for positives and feeling rebuffed and hurt by negatives.

One day, it stopped. I believed in my skills and started looking at evaluations in the right way – another opportunity to learn and grow and not a measure of my self-worth.

When I started writing novels, I hungrily sought feedback. I knew I had a lot to learn. I can’t count the number of workshops I participated in and still do. A frequent flyer striving to improve my craft. My first contract with a respected small press had me in tears. Perhaps I was good or good enough. Someone liked my story, offered me an advance and a contract.

Everyday I went to the Amazon site where my book lived, scanning for new reviews. I was back in the place where critiques and the number of stars spoke to my talent or lack of, and, to a degree, my self-worth.

I started my teaching and speaking career in my early thirties. Young enough, I suppose, to be forgiven for all the angst and self-judgement. Now I’m in my seventies. Shouldn’t I be over this?

Two novels published and a third coming out next year. Still striving to improve. That’s the positive side. Surprised by, and craving, four and five stars and words of praise. The downside.

At what point will I believe in Karen-the-writer without validation from others? I’m working on getting there. I read this article about all the ways we shouldn’t judge our value. The author urges, “Instead of chasing things that temporarily boost your self-esteem, measure your self-worth by who you are at your core.” Sage advice.

Where are you in your journey? Whatever you’re striving to do exceedingly well, how are you handling critiques, evaluations, and/or reviews? How did your get there? I’d love to hear your story.

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