It has been striking for me to notice how different it is to teach beading to a class of adults compared to a class of kids. Everyone can typically follow the step by step instructions to learn the techniques easily enough. But when it comes to jewelry designing, the two groups as a whole approach it very differently.
I have a little speech that I give adults so they can feel safe letting their creative side express itself. I remind them that everyone is naturally creative. I suggest that they don’t compare themselves to anyone else. Don’t put pressure on yourself to make your design perfect; designing is a process of trial and error. You don’t have to figure it all out in advance, beads are forgiving; get started stringing and if you change your mind, you can always change it. As I speak these words to the adults, I can visibly see them relaxing.
After having taught beading classes to adults in the San Francisco Bay Area, I taught a kid’s class and started to give my “everyone is creative” speech. The kids showed no signs of interest; they were ready to start creating now!
Why the difference in the two groups? I believe that it is because the kids have not yet had so much criticism that it debilitated their creativity. As adults, we have a stockpile of memories of when someone told us that what we were doing was not ________ enough. The more we heard it, the more we believed it. Even long after the outside critical voice has gone silent, the echoes live in us as our inner critic. It is not the criticism itself, it is how we relate to it, that affects our creativity.
I have learned to evaluate whether to hold the other person’s feedback with more weight than my own point of view. A friend told me that she has learned, “Just because someone says something doesn’t mean that it is true.” Sometimes the gift is learning to trust myself to discern how much to value the other’s feedback.
One Friday at Bead Night I was putting a necklace together. I had decided on a filigree-wrapped pink calcite focal bead. Something was missing for me, and I hooked on a piece of chain with a pearl and asked the other gals if they thought the addition worked. The lack of enthusiasm in their response (which I sometimes hear as criticism) told me it wasn’t working. Still I felt that I was on the right track and stuck with my inner vision. I shortened the chain and then the feedback was unanimous approval. The finished necklace design is now a bead jewelry kit on our website called, “Softness“.
I believe that feedback is a gift, although it doesn’t always feel that way at first. Warren Wiersbe is known to say, “Truth without love is brutality, and love without truth is hypocrisy.” I use this as my guide, and make sure that the love, the heart that someone puts into something, does not go unacknowledged amidst my “constructive feedback”.
I do not always get to choose when, from where or how criticism may come. When it comes my way, I can look within my heart to see what I can learn from it. If I can be in touch with the beauty of who I am deep inside, a goal that is not always easy to accomplish, then I can keep the criticism in its true perspective.