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A Little Chat About Criticism & Judgment

A Little Chat About Criticism & Judgment

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. In this week's journal entry I want to talk a little about criticism and judgment. This conversation will be geared towards those who want to quit an unfulfilling job to start their own business like I did, but it's equally applicable in other areas of life too so I encourage you to read it even if you're not on the career change journey.

Here's the deal: if you want to quit a traditional career to start your own business, the judgment never stops. The criticism is everywhere. People talk behind your back, your family included. And you have to be centered and confident enough so that those comments don't weigh you down and ultimately sink your dream of being a business owner.

It stinks, I know. I didn't really have the firm support of anyone in my life when I first decided to quit my lawyer job and start my jewelry business. And I certainly didn't have any cheerleaders, rooting for me to succeed. Here are just some of the comments I received:

  • You're just going to throw your law degree away like that? Didn't you spend a lot of money and time studying to be a lawyer?
  • You really think you can earn a living making jewelry?
  • Do you think it's smart to leave a stable job to do something so risky?
  • What business experience do you have to run your own business? (Said in a very derogatory tone)
  • You're going to leave behind your nice salary to make jewelry? (This was a pet peeve of mine - instead of saying "to start a jewelry business" people would say "to make jewelry" as if it were some sort of hobby and not a real business concept)
  • How are you going to pay your bills making jewelry?

And then, once you ARE successful, the comments don't stop there, let me tell you! Then you start to hear things like this, but they're said more behind your back than to your face:

  • Oh she's just lucky that it worked out (completely negating how much work and effort you put into making your business a success)
  • If I was as [insert whatever adjective] as her, I'd have my own business too (again attributing your success to some sort of trait or circumstance that they're not "lucky enough" to have too)
  • Generic criticism about little details (since the big plan has now worked out in your favor) - you know, criticism of your website, something you posted on social media, a photo you shared, etc

So why do I mention all of this? Well, first, so that you know you're not alone in hearing these things and feeling the negative emotions that follow. Second, so that you know what to expect and can mentally prepare yourself for all the criticism and judgment that may come your way. Third, to let you know that experiencing this allowed me to build my own confidence. Let me put it this way - you can't get used to being in the cold if you live in a warm climate, right? Similarly, you can't really work on your self-confidence unless you face something that forces you to strengthen it. I firmly believe we are given the right circumstances at the right time in order to grow and evolve as a person. And part of growing into a mature, grounded, happy adult is having a healthy amount of self-confidence in yourself and the decisions you make. 

And fourth and finally, going through all of this allowed me to weed out the "friends" I don't really want in my life anymore. Yes, some of the friend "losses" were surprising - the people you think won't judge you, will, and vice versa. Your friends WILL change during all of this, so expect that. Let me put it this way. A lot of my friends before this journey were lawyers or corporate types in the same boat as me. Now, a lot of my friends are entrepreneurs like me. Not hard to understand, right? We gravitate towards others who are doing, feeling, and being similar things. Let me put it a different way. It's really hard to stay around those corporate types once you've left. It really is. You start to realize that most of your conversations revolve around work (and it's usually in the form of complaining). You start to realize that you have different priorities and goals in life (they're usually still striving for external things like a higher salary, a promotion, and a big house). You start to realize that, basically, you just don't look at the world in the same way anymore, and that can be very difficult for a friendship to endure. In short, did I want to continue hanging around lawyers? No. It felt like it was weighing me down. And so the relationships died shortly thereafter. Spoiler alert: those "friends" are often the people who criticize you after you've found success, saying all those negative things behind your back. "Oh she's just lucky" or "Oh she was able to succeed because [insert some factor of "luck" that you didn't have to work for]." Can you count these friendships as a real loss in the end? Probably not. And moving on from them makes space for new people to enter your life.

Let me end on this note. And this might be the most important point of this entire journal entry. The judgment and criticism you will receive says more about the person it's coming from than it does about you. Read that one again! I forget if I read that in a book or heard someone talk about this, but it is so incredibly true. When someone judges or criticizes you, she's revealing her own beliefs. For example, the person who says "you really think it's smart to leave a stable job to do something so risky?" is revealing HER beliefs that a stable, corporate job is the only route to financial stability and HER belief that risk-taking isn't smart. Your bold move to decide to believe something different will force her to examine her own beliefs on this subject. Does that make sense? And then, AFTER you succeed, she's really going to be forced to examine her own beliefs then. She can no longer call you foolish for quitting and trying to start your own business.

Let's break this down further, because it's applicable to other areas of life too. She might hate her corporate job, but in her mind it's the only option to financial stability so that's why she stays. If you come along and show her that another option is available, she'll be forced to examine that deeply held belief and decide why she's choosing to remain in a job she hates. And I hate to say it, but most people are going to shut you out at that point. It's too much internal conflict. They don't want to see you, talk to you, hear about your new business because every time they see the joy on your face, it's going to cause internal conflict against that deeply held belief that a corporate job is the only route to financial stability. And people just hate conflict. It's easier to shut it out than to open up and say, hey, maybe this firm belief that I've built my career and my life around isn't really true. It's a lot easier to judge, be mean, and say hurtful things behind your back. Let's talk about this principle in another area of life. Perhaps you recently got engaged and you have a friend who can't seem to find anyone to date for longer than a month or two. This friend expresses congratulations to your face, but talks negatively behind your back. Think about it: her negativity says more about her than it does about you, right? Your engagement is bringing up all the negativity in her mind and in her heart that says, "I'm not lovable enough for a long-term relationship, let alone engagement and marriage." When you understand this dynamic, you can't get all that upset with them. They're speaking from a place of deep hurt. So send them a quiet blessing under your breath, put some distance between you, and move on for now. You can't afford to have that kind of energy in your life weighing you down.

I hope this journal entry was helpful to you and made you think about life from a different perspective. If you'd like my Weekly Journal sent straight to your inbox every Monday night, click here to subscribe.


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