Alain de Botton’s quote came to mind as I listened to my former workmate, the other day, criticize me and others for our careers in the arts. Although I made light of what he said, and did not allow it to upset me, I felt sorry for him. He needs to criticize others to make himself feel good. Was he a failed artist and compensates for his failure by putting down other artists? Or was he envious of the courage it takes to leave a secure job for an insecure career in the arts? Who knows?
Like every other human being, my workmate started out as a child. He was free, creative and playful. He was in touch with his feelings. And then society programmed him to think that he wasn’t good enough; that his feelings were signs of weakness; that he knew nothing because authority figures outside of him had all the answers. What happened to him, happens to all of us. But some of us undo the damage society caused.
I used to have a need to belittle others. This need faded as I grew to feel better about myself. The better I feel about myself, the less I allow other people’s perceptions to bother me. I see people who criticize me as wounded children doing their best to cope because they are not convinced of their own standing.