Incidentally, the people who helped you grow probably don't even really realize the impact they have had. They are just being who they are, doing the best they can. And that is a blessing for everyone.
Now, I know a lot of professors, I've been a professor myself. I know that sometimes the news we have for our students isn't always received as good news. We give it because it is our job, and because we care. Sometimes, the teacher's job is to say "by the way, you have spinach between your teeth." When a student is presenting work which is very personal to them, they can take that feedback in ways that don't feel good. Students can feel attacked by feedback, and their only way to respond is to give a scathing review on ratemyprofessor.com.
So I'm thinking about feedback, and how I respond to it. And what that means to me.
I say that I don't care what people say about my work. I tell them to tell me what they really think, and I will never take it personally. I see it as a way to improve....but I have not always felt that way. As a younger person, I found feedback to be somewhat crippling. I resented performance evaluations. I did not engage in the feedback process willingly or with the thought that it had value. It was scary.
You know how it feels sometimes. You feel like the evaluator dislikes you, finds you lacking. It hurts. It makes you question your abilities. It makes you want to stop doing the thing you were doing that prompted the feedback. But do you think the evaluator meant to make you feel that way? No matter which side I am on---performer or evaluator---I usually think I am doing my best. As an evaluator, my goal is never to take someone down personally, or to show them that I think I'm smarter than they are, or to break hearts. My goal is to gently and honestly show them what I see from where I am sitting. That's the process. That's what feedback is. It is not true. It is not binding. It is not going on your permanent record.
We respond to feedback in several ways. One response is to keep going, whether we integrate the feedback into our experience or not. Another is to quit. I think that the likelihood that you'll see one of these responses more than another moves with our passion for the subject. When I'm doing what I love, feedback just doesn't bother me, and it doesn't stop me. If I don't place in a song contest, I'm not going to stop writing songs. If I ID a bird the wrong way and someone corrects me, I'm not going to put down my binoculars forever. Feedback usually only hurts when I'm dragging myself to the table, doing things that don't inspire me very much. Maybe I do them because someone assumed I would, or out of habit, or because no one else will do it, or because it "looks good on the resume." Not for love. Not for the pleasure of living.
I can put on the best face I can, but if my heart is not there, people will figure it out. The most honest will cry "fraud!" And that is feedback we should listen to. The feedback that hurts. It is the wake-up call. It calls us to do something differently.
If you receive feedback and find that you are hurt by it...check in with your heart. Is it in? Feedback is just a conversation. Feeling bad about feedback could mean that you're not really loving your life.
Don't blame the feedback, though, or the person giving it. Thank them for taking you to the edge of what you thought you knew.