(Sorry for the absence; life got crazy the last couple weekends.)
This past weekend, I competed in a music and Irish dance competition. It was my first time ever competing in Irish penny whistle and voice and dancing in novice level. The music competition, well… I was the only one competing in the categories so I automatically got first haha, though it was the judge’s comments and scoring that I really was focusing on. (Yeah, I did fairly well, in case you were wondering.)
The dance competition was a different story. I was exhausted from other stuff going on and literally had no energy. Some of the stages were uneven and I kept tripping over the tape, once slipped and almost fell in my reel. Some judges gave a lot of attention and put me last while others didn’t look at me and gave me fourth. I’m not bitter about my results; I actually did better than most people do in that category for the first time. I even got a 3rd place in my slip jig, my weakest dance, against nine other people!
My point with all of this is: some of the results shocked me (such as that third) while others greatly disappointed me (such as getting last in my best dance). Some people could continue to be bitter about it—I could continue to be bitter about it—but the fact is, getting results you don’t think you deserve shouldn’t define who you are as a dancer. Or musician. Or writer. Or whatever you do.
There’s always a lot of elements that you can’t control. For instance, in the performing arts, you can’t control the judges, you can’t control the location, you can’t control your competition; you can only control you, and even then you sometimes can’t. In writing, you can’t control the agents that reject your manuscript or the readers that don’t like your writing.
But that’s okay.
Because that shouldn’t define who you are.
Just because I get eight place in a dance that is my best dance technique-wise DOES NOT mean that I am a terrible dancer. Just because I messed up my Swallowtail Jig DOES NOT mean I am a bad musician. Just because I don’t get Twitter likes on my pitches DOES NOT mean that I am a bad writer.
Other people’s opinions do not and should not define who you are as a human being.
Read that again.
It’s so easy to get trapped in the mindset of “Oh I didn’t even place! I must suck.” Or “Agents keep rejecting my manuscript. Maybe I should just give up writing.” Or “This Chopin nocturne will never come together. Why did I want to study music anyway?” Or “He/she didn’t smile at me; maybe we’re not friends anymore.” And so on.
Guys, listen. If we let our lives and our self-worth be determined by the world, we’re going to be miserable. If we live to be praised and accepted by those around us, we’re always going to be let down. Because the world is imperfect and we are imperfect and seeking perfectionism in an imperfect world is beating a dead dog. It’s not going to work and it’s going to leave us heart-broken, disappointed, and depressed.
The only one whose opinion should matter to us is God’s. And if we are His children, we don’t need to worry about it because when God looks at us, He doesn’t see our brokenness. He sees Christ, and Christ alone is worthy and His blood makes us worthy. Christ should define who we are, not the world.
And yes, it’s hard in situations like I found myself last Saturday wondering what I did wrong to earn such a low placement. But wondering is going to get me nowhere except make me miserable and angry at things that are beyond my control and that I can’t fix. All I can do is accept my results, learn from it, and work harder for next time. That’s all we can do.
We can wallow in self-pity, or we can get up and do something about it.
Don’t let other peoples’ opinions rule your life. If there’s truth to them, then change. For instance, if someone’s complaining about me being stuck-up, then maybe I need to be more humble. But if it’s something like getting a 26 on the ACT when you thought you deserved higher, stop griping about it and study harder for the next time you take the test.
Only you can change you.
Don’t let what other people say define who you are as a person. Rest in Christ and His work in your life to make you more like Him.
That’s all that matters.