Do Comments Matter?

I try, really I do. Sometimes I think I am just too honest and can’t pretend things are great when they aren’t. Or that people are lovely when they aren’t. My face is an open book and my feelings are usually on my sleeve. I am just too sensitive, that I notice things I wish I didn’t and feel things I wish I wouldn’t.

Sometimes I try to put on a façade that isn’t real, just to fit in, and it feels inauthentic. Other times I am just too stressed to pretend and then I feel like a bitch.

I have recently heard two people talk about how they don’t let people tear them down with judgements that are mean and hateful. One was famous on TV and the other is a personal friend. They spoke of how another person’s opinion doesn’t matter to them and how they are filled with joy and enjoying life. I have to admit I am envious.

I remember when my son first got his radio show. The announcement went out while I was at the beach. I was so proud and excited. I told my child how excited I was for him, I told him the article with the announcement was wonderful to read. He texted back that he thought the article was good and the comments were hilarious.

I immediately went to the comments, some of which were positive and nice. But some of them were…well, let me just say, my idea of hilarious and my son’s idea of hilarious are evidently very different! Comments can be cruel.

In this age of social networking, people feel courageous to say whatever they want to others  and not worry about the fact that another human is on the other end of the comment.

In the last couple of weeks I have let other people’s comments take me on a roller coaster of emotions. I can’t believe at my age I still let that happen.

I received a message from an acquaintance that was super positive and complimentary. It was flattering and made my day. Later in the week I found out that the same person had discussed me with someone else and they had been even more positive. People will say nice things to your face, but when they say kind things behind your back they must really mean them! Right?

It put me in a great mood and I felt that maybe I could actually make something happen. I got to work and have accomplished so much in the last few days. I have been feeling good about the work I have done and how much has seemed to just pour out of me.

As always, I have those moments when I wonder if I am doing the right thing, if I am doing this the right way, if I can really say what I want to say. For the first time in a long time, I have just kept pushing through and it felt great!

All it took was for one person to say that one thing and everything I had been feeling, all that I have accomplished, all that I imagined came crashing down around me. All it took was one negative to undo all of the positive.

Too often in life, people spew their disappointment, their doubts and their issues on the people around them. It usually says way more about them and their problems than it does about the person they are trying to hurt.

I know that. You can’t live this long and not know that. And yet, it still hurts, it still cuts, it still undermines.

Feeling like you are enough is hard. It shouldn’t rely on what others think about you because that will change constantly. Some people will love you and others won’t. Some people will be positive and say nice things and some won’t. Some people will stand by you no matter what and some won’t.

So many times in life people have told me to toughen up. I have fought that because as an artist, if I’m allowed to call myself that, whether it be writing, theatre or painting, being vulnerable and sensitive is who I am.

Letting others define my worth is a step beyond all of that and thankfully over the years I have gotten somewhat better. I am hurt, sad, and off balance when someone is cruel, but it doesn’t take me as long to get past it as it once did.

I take comments to heart, but now instead of letting it erode my very being, I try to take whatever lesson I can from it and move on. Sometimes the lesson is to quit hanging out with that negative person! Sometimes the lesson is for me to re-examine how I handle things.

What I can’t do is shrivel up and hide because someone doesn’t like how I do things, or how I write or my style or size. I have to take every opportunity to grow as a person, to not stop growing because someone else finds me unworthy.

Just as I can’t base my worth on the people who compliment me and use that to get big headed and smug, I can’t let the haters change me either.

Not long ago I talked about theatre lessons and one of them was not to let the audience take you down a dark road. You have to do what you have rehearsed and know your part and let the audience react however- good or bad.

I have to tell myself that when people are kind- it is nice but I can’t let that change me. When they are mean- I can’t let it destroy me. The audience will not take me down a dark road of conceit or destruction.

I am headed back to work, not because someone said I should or someone said I shouldn’t but because I want to. Because I have to.


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Marietta is a graduate of the University of Montevallo with a BFA in musical theater. She has been performing for over 50 years on the stage and continues to perform, direct and teach. Marietta is married to Tim, has a son named Jon, and a cat named Penny.