Written by: Landon Watford

I have always had crazy ideas. Not necessarily good or bad, right or wrong, just objectively crazy. Take for example, when I asked my mom if I could perform the song “I’m Sexy and I Know It” with four of my fellow friends at the fifth grade Valentines Day party. The plan was to choreograph the dance (to something very close to what the original music video had, wiggle and all), buy us crazy wigs, and make rippable pants that we would tear off to reveal superhero underwear underneath at the climax of the song. Any sane parent would have taken me to a psychologist. My mom said she loved it.

My father, however, was completely opposed to the idea. This was far too inappropriate for his taste and for the son which he planned on molding into the next Peyton Manning, this was sacrilege. After much debate, we came to a compromise. I would be permitted to perform the dance so long as the choreography was not too explicit and I used superhero boxers rather than the more exposing underwear. I went on to perform the dance about two months later and I have had nightmares about it since.

I am not so concerned with publicizing this horrific story more than I am concerned with the balance between criticism and encouragement. I think we can agree that too much of either produces very negative effects: too much criticism leads someone believing they can do nothing, while too much encouragement results in them believing they can do anything. But a healthy dose of both is undeniably necessary to keep your ideas in check. So if criticism is critical and encouragement is encouraged, then where is the fine line?

It is certainly a hard balance to strike, but luckily my parents figured out a pretty good system, even if by luck. My mother takes the pro-Landon stance in almost every scenario and is convinced I can literally fly to Pluto and back with a ball of yarn and a paperclip. My father, however, serves as the antithetical and could not believe I could tie my shoes properly if I did so upside down. Their two varying biases allow my ideas to be properly curated and counterbalanced. I am not saying I am the prime example of a mentally sound individual, but seeing as I have not murdered anyone yet, I would say I am doing alright.

Unfortunately, I have met plenty of people who have not yet found this balance in their lives, and oh boy can you tell. The overly criticized husk sits moping in the last safe corner of their conscience, the final bastion where they are not brutalizing their every word, step, and dream – utterly ambitionless. The overly appreciated snowflake, in contrast, broadcasts their rays of mediocrity across the planet, perceiving themselves as an unstoppable, one of a kind titan – positively invincible.

To find a middle ground means that you are better able to assess your good ideas from your bad, as well as giving you a vital dose of humility. Your judges do not have to be parental figures either, just make sure you are associating with people you can trust to both criticize and encourage you. This will allow you to have far more thought out and simply better ideas. It also makes you more capable of avoiding cringe-worthy mistakes like performing an appallingly explicit song to your elementary school classmates and faculty. In my case, if I had not listened to my mother I would have never had the courage to perform, which, as embarrassing as it is to look back on now, eventually led me to develop a passion for performing. If I had not listened to my father, however, I would have walked out on stage swinging around my thinly covered gonads, resulting in a life lived in the rec room of a psych ward.

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