(I’ve always loved this one.)

People are surprised when I tell them that just about every week, sometimes several times a week I get nasty, mean-spirited comments that come through my email, my Facebook page, my blog. Ever since I made the decision to step into the creative life and start selling my work almost 7 years ago. Ever since I’ve put myself out there. Ever since I became a mother. Ever since my work has received more visibility. It just keeps coming – a hazard of what I do. Of course, there are the supporters and life-line encouragers, too, for which I’m incredibly grateful.

But man, the judgments. Judgments about my not having any room to “complain” or struggle given my “amazing life.” Judgments on how I do or don’t market my products and e-courses. Judgements about perceived privilege,”selling out”, success, and so on. Judgements about how I parent, don’t parent. I received a few nasty-a-grams about my recent Wear Your Joy Project post – folks telling me I’m copying fashion bloggers who also post selfies and lots of judgement about where I shop, how etc.

I know I’m not alone in this. I receive stories like this often from my friends, near and far.

I keep thinking about something Donald Miller said recently during a talk of his that I attended. He said  this: we are not our failures but we are not our successes either. 

I think about this a lot when it comes to my work in the world, as well as the comments I receive. Honestly, between all the social networking sites and regular ol’ email, sometimes it feels like a ton of momentum/energy coming toward me – the lovely, supportive comments (thank you, immensely), the helpful feedback (always useful), and then the mean-spirited comments (fear-based, hostile). Although I care about what people think (I’m human), I work really hard on my boundaries and to not allow my worthiness to get caught up in any of it – the good or the bad. I don’t want my self-esteem to become other-esteemed by how much good feedback or negative feedback receive, if I’m having “commercial” success or not, if so likes me, etc etc. This is something I think a lot about, checking in with myself often.

I am not my failures. And I am not my successes.

I’m just a girl, a woman navigating her True North, showing up, putting herself out there, and creating a life that she loves with her family and her art.

Whenever people ask me advice on how to handle the criticism they’re receiving, or when I need to be reminded on how to handle it myself, I always refer to my friend Brene Brown who has taught me so much about this subject in our conversations and in her books.

In her book, she shares and writes about the Theodore Roosevelt quote:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the
strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the
arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives
valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again,
there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually
strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great
devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;
who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”
Ahhh yes. This always brings me back to center. Brene’s work on this subject challenges me to consider a few things. Are the critics in the arena with me? Are they also being brave with their lives, putting their work out into the world, engaging authentically? Then, I’ll listen, especially if it’s useful feedback. But if they’re not, I gain perspective and try and move on, though sometimes, especially if it’s a tender week, I feel the sting. I’m human. Ouch.

By the way, this is an awesome Q+A she did on this subject that I just read for the first time and that I found to be really helpful.

So here’s to those of you in the arena with me. It takes a ton of vulnerability and courage to keep showing up, putting our work out there, staying true to our voices, telling the truth even when it’s hard (like this post feels for me) despite making a ton of mistakes (sometimes publicly) along the way, and despite the mean-spirited judgments that come our way from people who don’t know us, and perhaps people who do. Count me as one of your biggest supporters, encouragers along the path.

Really + truly,
Kelly Rae

Hi, I'm Kelly Rae Roberts!

Before I picked up my first paintbrush at the age of 30, I was a medical social worker. I followed my whispers and started playing with paint and everything changed.

Now I’m a full-time artist, author and Possibilitarian, who helps women explore and nourish their creative souls.

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