Dealing With The Haters
Updated: Jun 2, 2019
If you're going to spend your professional life getting up in front of groups of people and telling them what to do and how to do it, sometimes - maybe always - some of those people are not gonna like you. They're not gonna like what you do, they're not gonna like how you do it, they are just not gonna like you. This is true no matter what, and it is unrelated to how well you do what you do. It's especially true if you are female, and it's exponentially true if you are of a visible minority.
I've been conducting professionally for 27 years, and listen, there have been lots of folks who didn't care for my work. And you know, in my earlier years, they may have been justified; I was definitely learning on the go. Even now, when I am generally acknowledged to be an excellent, experienced, talented conductor, there are always people* who - no matter what I do - are always 1000% sure that they could do it better. They are sure that I am wrong. I am making stupid mistakes. I've never even looked at the score before. My warmups are pointless and time-wasting. My makeup looks terrible. My outfit makes me look fat, my shoes are ugly, and I am letting the horn section get entirely out of hand.*** And the basses are flat, why am I not on that????
Look, here's the thing: haters gonna hate. I know that's a meme, or maybe a gif, or whatever (yes, I am old, why do you ask?). But it's true. And I'm ok** with that. In general, my position is that I'm the one on the podium, so whatever you may think, I get to decide. When you're up on the podium, you get to decide. Easy-peasy. Don't like it? Get on the podium yourself, or find another profession. (Pro-tip: this is true in Every. Single. Profession.) There are always going to be people you can't please, no matter how good you are, or how pretty you are, or how hard you try. And also, because of how good you are, how pretty you are, how hard you try. You are damned if you do, and damned if you don't. So, you might as well do. Get on with things, and leave haters to get on with hating.
How they feel is not under your control. Nothing you do can change it. So let it go. Let them be. Live and let live. Go be awesome, and let them be whatever they are going to be. Someone once told me that the more they hate me, the better I must be. I think there's truth to that. I think that hating me is, for some people, what makes them feel better about their own perceived inadequacies. It isn't about me, it's entirely about them. Seeing it from this perspective made me feel completely free.
Haters are hating? You're on the right path. Keep going. Find your convictions, find your artistry, find what you want to say, and say it. And to heck with the haters.
* I'm saying people, I mean total jerks. But jerks - however small-minded and jealous - are people too.
** It took me a long time, but the truth is that no one is right for everyone. And that's just fine.
*** Goshdarn those horns, how many times must I speak to them???