I dreaded my Creative Writing class today. Last class, everyone was to bring a one-page short story to share, and I had a great time concocting mine in the wee hours of the night before. I really felt I had a good story and was excited to hear feedback on my creation.
When it came time for someone to share, nobody wanted to go first. The professor stared like they do, eyes penetrating as he pleaded for someone to volunteer. I raised my hand, figuring I was going to at some point anyway. I read my story, finishing confidently, since I really liked my oh-so-clever ending.
The professor stared and then requested I pass my paper around the giant circle of students to him. The class silently slumped on the edge of their seats at the awkward tension, not knowing how to react to the situation. I anticipated. "A critique," he grunted.
A hand rose and with a nod the boy began, cutting deep with his words. The class fell silent. "What else?" the professor coldly encouraged. "We're looking for positive things, too."
Other classmates consoled me with what I could only now believe to be their pity. Then, the professor wrapped the critique up with a comment on my "graph of tension," ultimately finishing with a hard blow to my "oh-so-clever" ending.
Then I sat there, listening to him melt over the next short stories. And then I sat there today, again watching him pour over my classmates' words. I boiled inside, feeling my skin go red hot at every praise he offered. I sat in raw resentment, my face muscles avidly refusing to acknowledge even one moment of his dry humor, and found myself hating even more my classmates who were receiving praise. I exuded negativity.
I was jealous. I wanted the professor to love my story. I did my best to take the criticism at face value and learn from it, but that was just so damn hard to do while the professor continued to coo about literally everyone else's. But jealousy can be a motivator, what with that deep green voice inside screaming at you to be better. The trick is to speak kindly in both words and thoughts to all beings, including yourself. Instead of resenting my classmates, I should have felt joy at their success and taken special note of what techniques they utilized to make their writing good, then implemented them myself. However, I was too busy shooting death glares at anyone who'd had any shred of success to really learn from what my classmates were doing. In the end, we're not here to be each other's competition; we're here to help guide one another and create something bigger, better, and more beautiful than ourselves. If all we can seem to desire is hate for a person or their talent, we are missing out on the unique experience being offered and the potential guidance through life that we could have access to.
I didn't write this post on Friday because it was still a little sore, and the bruise always gets worse before getting better, but I'm hoping that realizing and experiencing these emotions will help Wednesday's class to not be so saturated in negativity. Instead of feeling jealous, I will work to feel inspired by those around me and the opportunities for guidance they have to offer me.