Ernest Owens | Love the way you hate
The Ernest Opinion | Embracing criticism can be more motivating than avoiding it
November 10, 2011, 11:46 pm · Updated November 13, 2011, 8:54 pm·
The Ernest Opinion
“I sincerely desire that the DP doesn’t waste any more ink on this fatuous egotist,” an anonymous commentator wrote in response to one of my columns. I was initially pissed off. But eight columns, 14,000 online views and over 5,600 wasted ink words later, I remain a weekly columnist for The Daily Pennsylvanian.
As I reflect on my Penn experience, I have realized that we as Quakers are potentially under public scrutiny every day. Under The Button might just catch you making a fool of yourself unaware on Locust Walk. Your Economics professor might just call you out for being one of the lowest on the midterm curve. And you might just get told how allegedly “horrible, self-centered and attention-seeking” you are anonymously every week online. But unlike many who will tell you to ignore the bitterness and not engage, I propose that you should actually embrace it and let it motivate you.
Our society thrives off showcasing unwarranted criticism. Whether it is the “Not Penn State” shirts that we wear proudly on campus or the rival homecoming team signs that read “Puck Fenn” by Princeton, people love making others feel insignificant. It is almost in our nature to discern between things in a very critical way because that is how one makes decisions. If someone asked you why you chose Penn over DeVry University, you would have a thousand reasons to defend your choice.
For better or worse, no one is exempt from criticism. No matter how kind you are or how invisible you attempt to be, you cannot escape the opinions of others. For example, Kanye West may have publicly humiliated Taylor Swift at the 2009 Video Music Awards, but Swift later got the last laugh by winning the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 2010 and also besting West in annual album sales. To be honest, I never knew much about Taylor Swift that night before the VMAs, but after Kanye took to the stage to put her in the spotlight, I can no longer forget her existence.
Such reversals of fortune show how flexible people’s minds are in responding to other’s disapproval. This social understanding is based on how one responds to such denigration. And that is why embracing criticism and transferring it into motivation is the best solution.
You should embrace insults to acknowledge people out there who give a damn about you. Not only do they concern themselves with your presence, but they also actually have thoughts and opinions about you that take up their time and energy. The aspect of relishing those who criticize you may sound bizarre at first, but the alternative is to be disappointed and bitter, which further succeeds in undermining your true self-worth.
In times of such adversity, one should use these moments as motivation. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” Being pushed against a brick wall does not mean you should just stay there but instead step forward and dare someone to try to push you again. The harder the fall, the more powerful the rise. By taking advantage of such hardships to gain strength and become an even better person is what makes persevering individuals, such as Swift and King, incredible.
So call me a verbal masochist if you will, but I request that you please keep criticizing me. Do not stop throwing cheap shots at my acceptance, my appearance or my personality. I prefer the really ignorant insults the most, for these are the moments that fuel my drive to be above and beyond your words and your salty pouts. These are the moments that remind me that I exist and have a purpose. So go ahead, shoot me a nasty email or post a comment. Because unlike Rihanna, I don’t love the way you lie — I love the way you hate.
Ernest Owens, an Undergraduate Assembly representative, is a College sophomore from Chicago. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. The Ernest Opinion appears every Friday.