A Profound Look Back at the Week: August 10-16

Autumn is coming. I repeat, autumn is coming. Sorry, summer lovers, it’s going to be over soon. But autumn’s pretty, so don’t be too sad. And then, of course, think that winter is coming. It’s always coming, right? There. (Okay, that could be construed as cruelty to a certain fandom so I’m sorry.)

The new normal

I worked myself into a mild anxiety attack last week when I woke up one day feeling the back of my throat. As anyone who’s ever had a cold knows this is how a cold begins. But was it a cold?

We had spent a week abroad. I hadn’t left the house the whole week but I did hug my relatives. The two younger ones work at the port. They are — and we half-joked about it — on the front lines. That’s all panic needs, a kernel of facts to latch on to and go off. Pretty much like sodium in water.

Panic is great at ignoring other relevant facts, such as the one that our front-line workers had not yet had a single case of Covid-19 in their company — a commendable achievement and cause for pride since my brother-in-law works in health and safety. Also, the fact that my in-laws were extra careful with their own health being elderly was brushed aside. I had a horror scenario to go through.

It wasn’t a nice scenario so I’m not going to go into it. From morning to noon I’d managed to add a headache and general fatigue to the sensation of viral existence in the back of my throat and was working on the first draft of my will. And then I thought I might as well do my daily exercise while I waited for the symptoms to really get serious.

I do my exercise while watching some sitcom or other and this time it was Bless This Mess (my new favourite series, I have to say). Within 20 minutes, my headache was gone, so was the fatigue, and I almost didn’t feel the back of my throat any more. The next day every single symptom was gone. Incidentally, the weather cooled, too.

This will be our new normal. Whether you’ve been in contact with an infected person or not, the fear will be there every time you sneeze or, god forbid, cough, which I had, a couple of times, two days before Panic Day. It really is silly what the mind can do to you if you let it. Which I’m definitely not doing. I’ll be neutralising the effects of following pandemic developments on a daily basis with everything I have at my disposal: logic, sitcoms, Nora Roberts, Italian, anything. Don’t ask me about the start of school year.

The profundity of criticism

Criticism is the greatest gift someone could give you, regardless of your field of ambition. Of course, I’m talking about constructive criticism rather than the blanket sort. How do you one from the other? Easy. Constructive criticism is always specific. It doesn’t say “I hate this, it’s crap.” It says “I hated this because XYZ.”

I was reminded of the importance and profundity of criticism last week when I posted what has become my most popular article on LinkedIn (That’s my professional outlet for my narcissism and desperate search for external validation.) The article was about whether it was possible or not to electrify the U.S. I got a lot of specific comments, most to the tune of “Not going to happen, because…” Now, this “because” is the constructive part. I got a lot of interesting information for a follow-up story, at the very least.

And then I got this: Absolutely pointless article with absolutely pointless conclusion. There are just so many things wrong in this article. I wont even mention all the wrong things, as it is clear that the author has no knowledge or experience on this field, so it is pointless to explain. Do you even get the professional read your article before it gets published ?

I’m happy to say my first reaction was to laugh out loud. My second reaction was one of slight despair about all the people who, search they mightily, cannot find validation in any other way but trolling other people. It was also educational because I will save this comment and show it to Little C. as an example of the people she should never engage with online. She already has an email account. It’s only a matter of time before she discovers social networks*.

The reason I’m sharing this is because I guess it could be hurtful for anyone to read a negative comment on their work and they might fail to spot the trolling for what it is. The problem is there is also positive trolling and it does as much good to anyone as negative trolling. How would you become better at what you do if all you constantly hear is compliments, even though your work is subpar?

I’ve seen this, I’ve experienced it, and I’m in two minds about which is worse, pointless criticism or undeserved praise on the grounds that “I’m afraid to make her/him feel bad.” Never be afraid to make anyone feel bad with constructive criticism. If it’s constructive, you won’t make them feel bad. You’ll be helping them.

Go now, help someone become better at what they do. Thank you.

*She’s asked for an Instagram account so she could follow the pictures her new favourite idiot duo from Youtube posts there. It is not happening.

4 thoughts on “A Profound Look Back at the Week: August 10-16”

  1. Oh my gosh! So glad I took the time to read this! I am all over the place. Do I put myself out there? Is my skin thick enough to withstand something like what you shared??? (Uhem…not sure). You encourage me. I like to see my thoughts (criticism done right=love). I know folks want to have everything be praise and pets all the time, but especially we writers need to know what’s not working, too. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, yeah, thick skin develops with time but you do need to put yourself out there to give it a chance to develop. πŸ™‚ I’ve been lucky with my job in this respect (some truly hilarious insults under my belt) but not with my writing and it bothers me because it basically means people don’t even hate my writing enough to criticize it. I had a reviewer agree to review my book and I never heard back from her. Talk about deafening silence. Praise is good but there should be a balance. Otherwise it would be too easy to start thinking “So, I’m a brilliant writer, why am I not on the NYT bestseller list then?” That’s a depressing path. So get out there and take it like a writer! Or be pleasantly surprised. πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Health anxiety… So real, so intense, required, by government, round the clock – or it is in-UK public broadcasts. Report symptoms, self isolate, do the right thing..
    Hypochondria, by order ?
    Nest week, a film will be shown in the ‘village’ hall. quotes, because there’s a hall, but no village, just a scattered housing rural area
    168 minutes. Socially distanced. Hard chairs. Masks for the duration…
    What really spooks me, more than any of those ? Nearly three hours, with preliminaries, indoors, with other people. ( ex catonthedovrefell)


    1. My next level in this anxiety game is first day of school, coming on Sept 15. Already had an anxiety-induced dream and I'[m superannoyed because I'[m not used to dreaming about actual real problems. I want my zombies not remote classes from a downtown street (?!?!) I guess we’ll have to learn to live with it but from what you say it doesn’t sound like the media or authorities are helping much.


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