How to Deal With Negative Family and Friends

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You seem like you’ve always had an interest in creative fields. Did you ever deal with criticism from your loved ones? I am trying to be a a freelance artist, but it is hard for me to share my passions with them because they are so critical and tell me to get a “real job.” How do you deal with negative family and friends, any advice?

– Casey, Richmond, VA

Omg, story of my life. Yes, I used to deal with criticism from my friends and family, and I still kinda do, to this day. Old me would be extremely upset about this, while new me has learned the art of brushing it off. Now that I see how it’s affected me two different ways, I should probably explain both perspectives.

When I started my photography business, I would make a couple hundred bucks for a single one-hour client session and a good $3-$5,000 shooting an 8-hour wedding, with another 8-10 hours retouching those photos. I was making really good money for my time, especially at 19. But still, my parents were hesitant about my future, as they thought this was just a phase I was going through.

My friends tried to be supportive, but most of them had been taught to go to school and get an education, and then find a career-based job after that. There was nothing wrong with this, but it was difficult for us to relate to each other because of the difference in career choices.

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After going through depression and deciding to go back to school to become an esthetician, the truth started pouring out from all directions. I got so many people saying things like, “I’m so glad you’re being realistic about your future now!” “Photography wasn’t practical anyway, you’ll have a more stable income with skincare.”

It hurt. A lot. I had a hunch that people weren’t supportive of my endeavors before, but their backhanded compliments suddenly became confirmation that people thought my dreams were a joke.

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 I fought verbally so much trying to prove the credibility of creative-based careers, but people never bought it. I think that being so defensive made me appear extremely childish and unsure of myself. I’ve learned that the more you try to explain your reasoning, the more insecure you appear. I spent so much of my time in my early youth trying to validate my career to others and earn people’s acceptance, and all it did was make me angry, frustrated, and spiteful. Now, with blogging, I make much less money than I did starting out in photography, but I feel I’ve earned more respect from my friends and family by keeping quiet and just by doing the damn thing. If you work hard enough, it will show through your successes and accomplishments.

The hardest part about pursuing a non-traditional job as your main source of income is learning to tune other people’s opinions out. In one of my most recent posts I actually earned my first hater (yay! I’m going places!) and couldn’t help but be upset about it, but then I realized that this comment was nothing except a poor attempt to drag me down along with their sad outlook on blogging – perhaps they were bitter from past attempts. I should really been like, “Mom??? Is that you??” and left it.

Just because people think you’ll have a bad experience or fail doesn’t mean you will. Most of the time, these remarks are usually a reflection of how they feel they’d do if they were doing the same thing as you. Don’t let them project their insecurities onto you. You are not them, and you will never be them.

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I believe in the law of attraction, and the more energy and attention you devote to such negative remarks, the more your subconscious will start to believe it and adopt the same beliefs. This is why people give up. They spend so much time trying to win people over, but the truth is, not everyone will approve of you or what you do. You can be as nice and giving as you’d like, but if someone doesn’t like you, they just won’t like you – they don’t need a reason for it.

Although it sucks having to deal with the incessant recommendations to get a better job (because yes, these people dishing out advice totally have everything figured out), the only way to really deal with it is learning to grow some thicker skin. It’s taken me several years to do, but after you just learn not to give a damn about what people think about you… life in general just becomes easier.

On the flip side, from their perspective: they may come off as offensive, but I try to give these people a chance. Considering that they are your loved ones, I’m sure they dish out this kind of advice only because they care about you and your future. They may never understand your perspective or your passions, but just like you’d like for them to be respectful and understanding towards you, I think the only thing you can do to make it easier on yourself is to remain open-minded and try to understand where they are coming from. You can’t control other people’s actions or opinions, but you can definitely control how you react to it. If they continue being that way, you can either choose to brush it off or distance yourself from them to reduce how much negativity you expose yourself to.

Once you learn that other people’s emotions and actions are completely out of your control, focusing on what you need to do becomes extremely easy, because this is ultimately the only thing you have control over.

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1 Comment

  1. Anna
    February 7, 2018 / 10:25 am

    As someone who is doing both( going to college to get skills in demand for a “real”job and selling art on the side,) I used to think the same. How dare family try to crush my dreams, right??! But you will learn that they do it out of love and concern (they don’t want you to be broke, working at Starbucks, struggling to put food on the table or mooching off of them forever).
    Trust me, I was born and raised in L.A. littered with thousands of 20,30,40 year olds still trying to “make it” as a rapper, actor, photographer while working minimum wage and living with tons of roommates because they can’t afford anything. Many of them are my friends and it is not a fun struggle after a while. Follow your dreams no matter how crazy they seem but unless you are a trust fund kid always have a plan B! Good post.

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