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The most difficult words to say

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Have you wondered about the relationship between an artist and the audience? And, I'm not referring to the successful celebrities and their fan following frenzy. I'm talking about those unassuming people we see in our everyday walk of life. The ones who seem ordinary at the outset but carry a special skill  within that outshines when pitted against the rest.

Don't we all know of, in our immediate circles, a master chef, a pitch-perfect singer, a skillful painter, an imaginative craftsperson, a graceful dancer or even someone who's a bit of all of these? These are artists in their own right, some perhaps bidding their time to make it big and some just content being a devotee of art. At different points of time, we could well be that artist or one among the audience.

As an audience, how many of us walk up to the unsung hero and applaud his/her efforts? How many of us generously spend from our tightly-held purse of appreciation without a grudge or an expectation of a return compliment?

It's easier to be a mere spectator of the artist's mastery over respective genres, pausing only briefly to register his/her excellence. And then, move on. Without a word. To either wallow in self-pity or to sharpen our own set of strengths to feel worthy enough.

I often wonder why we don't praise easily; or generously and genuinely enough?

I assume it's because we are entwined in low self-worth and insecurities. It's very likely that we are ourselves a struggling chef, singer, painter or dancer and lack the confidence to showcase whatever talent we have. We begrudge the other person who has risked criticism and is brave enough to expose the raw self. The feelings of 'if only', 'what ifs' and 'why me' throng the egoistic mind, building up an invisible, impregnable shield between the self and the artist or even rest of the world.

Perhaps, this is also a reason why we're able to freely congratulate and applaud someone whose skills are disparate from ours. Here, there's no basis for comparison and therefore no green monster raising its ugly head. Again, it's easier to be in awe of a celebrity figure because somewhere in your mind you have accepted the fact that the artist and you are on different planes and there is no scope for the juxtaposition.

However, when the tables are turned and we do not see our talent being recognized and appreciated, do we smile knowingly? Ah, the complexities of a human mind! As slaves of an art form, we are constantly seeking a discerning audience, some constructive feedback, a bit of admiration or adulation.

Appreciation from external quarters is a validation of all the hard work the artist has put in to create a beautiful artwork for the world to see, touch or experience. The words that speak highly of a job well done serves as a throttle for him/her to do better each time.

A creative person's world is often lonely. Even among a company of those similarly endowed, he/she embarks on a long-winding path that is traversed alone. Thick boughs of a criticizing audience dotting the sidelines form an intimidating canopy. The path itself is strewn with thorns of self-doubt and fear. At such times, when a kind face waves out encouragingly and cheers him/her, all the obstacles seem to fade out into the oblivion and the journey becomes enjoyable.

The perspective changes dramatically by simply reversing the side you're on! Yes, it's tough to make that switch but not completely impossible. So, the next time our ego stops us from patting someone's back, we must try to put the self for a while in the artist's shoes. It might then be easier to smile easily and say those simple but difficult words, "You did a great job!"

What are your thoughts? Would love to know what you think.


  1. I empathise with this feeling, Uma. I used to feel very upset about the works of others in the writing field being appreciated while mine never made any ripples. I'd be at myself up, say that I was hopeless and should stop writing. Slowly, I came out of it. I began to write regularly, tweaked my writing, read more and more on how to write and made the idea of writing regular, rather than wait for the accolades. It's and evolutionary journey and one we all go through. I do love the perspective you've brought to it here. We're all happy to cheer when the other person is not a competitor. Time we broke out of that mindset. I hope I'll get there completely one day.

    1. And, it's also so satisfying when we stop waiting for accolades and work on our skills instead, no? In a way, I feel this way the universe is helping us to become worthy of the recognition we think we deserve.
      I'm also trying to evolve, Shailaja!

  2. Oh I get upset when I see others are getting accolades and I'm not while I'm probably working equally hard, if not more. I guess it's only human. I'm learning to not be like this but it will take time.

    1. True,'s difficult to be patient and wait for your turn when it seems like you've been in the queue for recognition for ages. Sigh, it's all a part of learning. I'm taking it as an opportunity to smooth out the rough edges in my skill.

  3. Agree with your thoughts, Uma. What we do not realize is that by appreciating others, our value does not depreciate! It takes a mature and a self confident person to appreciate others.

    1. Well-said, Shilpa! In fact, we only rise higher when we shell out genuine appreciation.

  4. It is true...It happens all the time....It's only when the tables re you said, we feel th pinch.... vociferously say "well.done " :)
    By the way, well done on

  5. Well done on this. I also feel down when I see my attempts down the drain and others getting the deserved attention. But at the same time, it's important to not give up just based on this. Foid for thought there, Uma!

    1. Yes, Parul. Our efforts must not be dependent on external criticism or praise.

  6. Well somedays I feel let down but more often I know my limitations and am quite aware of why others are appreciated more than I am. So I think I'm in an okay space. I might feel 'Ah I should have written that' when I read a great piece of writing but that's not envy, that's appreciation.

    1. That's a wonderful space to be in, Tulika! I try to remember that always, especially when the pangs of envy or self-pity hit me.

  7. Very true. We are so miserly about appreciating others, but want generous appreciation when it comes to us.

    1. Indeed, Onkar. We must try to give more and automatically the universe will conspire to fill our plates with love too!

  8. We find it easier to criticize than appreciate. In many work-places, people actually say that if the boss hasn't said anything, he's happy with your work - if he wasn't, then you'd be hearing a lot!

    It's the sad truth. Even if the world does not appreciate you, I feel you should not hesitate from patting yourself on the back :-) Appreciate yourself. The world will follow. Also, when you appreciate yourself, you will find it easier to appreciate others.

    1. That must such a sad workplace to be in, no? Agree with the fact that we need to respect and know our worth first. Once we are content in our skin, we won't mind the world's ways.

  9. Very true. People expect more from others than their action.

    1. Yes, Tejasvi. More often than not, that's what happens. Welcome here, Tejasvi. Thanks for reading and commenting :)

  10. One should make it a principle to applaud other's good deeds putting aside the ego or envy, at the same time should avoid expecting the same from others. Certainly the world will be a better place and you have beautifully analysed the factors that hinder us from appreciating others.


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