Dealing with criticism when pursuing your passion

Brian Lain (text)

Grace Chen (graphics)

Hey all,

I am Brian Lain. When I was in Middle School, I spent two years in the musical as the pit-orchestra trumpeter. It was something I really loved, but my parents strongly opposed the idea of spending long hours at practices.

I’m sure everyone have relatable experiences. So today, I want to share some of my viewpoints and experiences with criticisms while pursuing my passion. Dealing with criticisms will always be a complex process that prompts self-reflection and future planning.

To simplify the process, the first step is to filter out the non-constructive criticisms.

What do I mean by deconstructive? Deconstructive criticisms are more like personal attacks and put-downs. These are criticisms that we should just forget and not even think about. The easiest way to filter out non-constructive criticisms will be thinking about the person’s intentions and the delivery of critic’s criticisms .

Remember how I talked about my parents’ disapproval about me being a part of the pit orchestra? That is not an example of a non-constructive criticism, instead it is a constructive criticism. How can I tell? I think about their intentions, that they want me to stay healthy by sleeping early and not being overly stressed with academics. When I listen to them after taking a deep breath, their tone and reasoning were delivered in a calm and considerate fashion.

On the other hand, my classmates just told me to quit as they thought it was a waste of time, exaggerating to the world about my stupidity simply because I joined. See the difference? One was done with empathy and the other one was done with disrespect. One was done with logical reasoning and considerations while the other was done with anxiety and vagueness.

As for intentions? My interpretation is that they want to find a victim to make fun of or they don’t want me to join and surpass their trumpet skills. This is an example of deconstructive or non-constructive criticisms, which should be forgotten and filtered out as soon as possible.

The difference in intentions and delivery of constructive vs. non-constructive criticism(s) :

Constructive Criticisms

Non-constructive Criticisms


The critic wants you to seriously consider their criticism and opinion because they think you are making a wrong decision.

The critic wants you give up in their favor.


With consideration and calmness as well as logical reasoning.

Really vaguely and negatively delivered, often with anxiety. If you take a deep breath and calm down, you will likely see their intentions and how their criticisms are deconstructive.

The most important aspect in this round of evaluation is to calm down and evaluate the criticism(s) objectively.

It is impossible, but taking a deep breath and some time off before thinking about the criticisms will help. If you still can’t take your mind off the deconstructive criticisms, avoid interactions with the critic may help you take your mind off and eventually avoid it. However, how people treats criticisms greatly differs among individuals, but it is always helpful to neglect those trying to use words to harm you. If you cannot ignore them and their deconstructive comments, you are helping them win the game.

After filtering out the deconstructive comments, it is time to think whether you want to take in the constructive criticisms. Listen carefully to what the critics have to say and evaluate their reasoning. But remember, ultimately it is your life and it comes down to what you want to do with your life.

If you listen and go with the tips other people gave

If you do what you want to do instead of adhering to people’s tips.


  • See things you might have missed out when evaluating the situation from your own perspective
  • Don’t have to deal with the same criticism again
  • Make the critic(s) happy
  • Pursue your passions and interest (if they do not align with that of the critic)
  • Do what you believe is right, just and important


  • Might regret your choices

i.e. I don’t really have experiences with this. But imagine if you go do a job your parents told you to do but you ended up wasting yours in your life doing somethings you don’t like.

  • You must bear the possible consequences.
  • Might hurt friends and families

i.e I signed up for a Saturday morning co-curricular event, then I don’t expect or ask my parents to drive me, I take a public bus.

What might be ahead?

The difficulty to have a brand new start

i.e. Getting skilled in an area you like and get a job in that area, which may take time and money (again never happened to me before).

  • If you didn’t have the expected success, your life will become more difficult.i.e. regret not taking the advice
  • Your relationship with the person that offered the tips may or may not be as close with you anymore.i.e them thinking you as stubborn and disloyal.

Ultimately, as I previously said: “it comes down to what you want to do with your life”. Sometimes, if you think the benefits far outweighs the consequences, then it’s probably worthy to take an educated risk to pursue your passions and ignore the constructive consequences. The most important part is when you make the choice, you take responsibility for it. If you fail or regret a decision, all you have to do is to take another deep breath, calm down and develop a plan of what is best for the future. Bear with the difficulties and the situation will improve. Don’t be despaired by failures and wrong decisions, just try your best to stand up!

Haru Sukegawa

a thing about Lisa