The crowd roared. Everyone stood up and clapped with deep enthusiasm. I saw a couple in front of us crying. I looked at my wife and smiled wide.
“Amazing,” she mouthed silently. I nodded in agreement.
We had just finished watching Hamilton (the Broadway musical) and it had lived up to the hype. It was the perfect evening to celebrate our 10 year anniversary, and we were still buzzing as the crowd slowly filed out of Richard Rodgers theatre.
In a tiny side stairwell exiting the building, my wife and I discussed some of our favorite songs and scenes of the musical. Others chimed in as it was still so fresh in our minds.
I couldn’t help hear a man talking fast and loud a few steps behind me. He was saying how the “2nd Act was all over the place” and how “they made a mockery of the King”, he even called the actor who played Jefferson “an understudy who had no business being up there” — and then I heard it:
“This whole play was overrated. What a waste of my time.”
Yes, the same experience that left people standing on their feet, crying with emotion, and buzzing afterward had one individual bash it relentlessly as we headed out into the New York night.
It is every author, producer, actor, performer, and creator’s worst nightmare: A critic with a harsh tongue and need to attack your work.
I don’t think many people heard what he said, but as someone who has continually tried to put my work out to the world (and wrote a book about students sharing their work with the world: LAUNCH) I had heard it loud and clear.
And the criticism made me smile.
In fact, all I could do was continue to smile. There are always going to be critics when you share your work with the world. There will always be haters. And while none of us want to hear the criticism, it is only a matter of time before it hits you.
And it is devastating once it does the first time.
Then the next time it doesn’t hurt as much. And each time after it loses its sting even more.
If one of the most heralded musicals of our modern time has critics each and every night, well I guess I’m open to criticism as well.
We are only afraid to share our work with the world because of what people might say.
We are only anxious to put something beyond our inner circle because of the critics that live in both the online (and offline) world.
Don’t let the fear and anxiety of sharing your work stop you from putting it out to the world.
I’m thankful Lin-Manuel Miranda didn’t stop when critics began attacking his idea for Hamilton. I’m thankful he didn’t stop when they continued throughout the show’s current run.
Every great idea, every innovation, every creative act will have it’s detractors. It’s up to us to keep sharing and creating in the midst of critics. The world needs your contributions, now more than ever.
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