We went with some friends to a ‘RAW Artist’ (rawartist.org) event in downtown Atlanta. It featured artists who sang, danced, created fashion, styled hair, created make-up effects, as well as two and three dimensional artists like painters, potters, and jewelers. It was amazing, and I felt rather old compared to the majority of the crowd. I didn’t let that stop me, eventhough I felt the ill effects of being up late on a ‘school night’ when I woke up the next morning.    

I must admit, I did not care for some of the art. I also must admit that I thought it was really loud. And my final admission is that I greatly admired the people who had the courage to put themselves out there and share their creativity with the world. Like the woman you see in this photo – she danced in front of the crowd all out…holding nothing back. THAT takes guts!

Do you see the forehead of the guy facing the camera in the lower right hand corner?? He was a heckler. He had one too many beers, and thought his option was more important that being respectful while this woman danced. I could hear every word he shouted to his friends. I turned off the urge to slap him silly and hoped that his behavior was not noticed by the performer on stage. He was rude, and crude and completely inappropriate…and I still held back my urge to slap him. And the woman kept dancing and made no notice when she finished. Critics and hecklers feel they have the right to be offensive – freedom of speech and all that. True, we do live in a country where we thrive on freedom; yet your freedom should not interfere with other’s ability to enjoy a performance. And it certainly should not be enhanced by large quantities of beer. 

How do you react to critics? How do hecklers get inside your head? If you are like me, they plant the seeds of doubt and defeat, then too often those seeds take hold and grow like kudzu. The battle is not always with the source, the battle is with the leftovers they leave in your brain. The medicine for these painful thoughts is courage and passion. It takes guts to put yourself out there. It takes courage to continue to create in the face of negativity. It takes passion to do it over and over and over not knowing how people will react. Critics and hecklers will always be there. The battle is not with them, it is within yourself. Muster the courage you need to perform and do it no matter what!