It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
President Theodore Roosevelt, 1910
So many great messages in this passage from President Roosevelt's speech. I think what we can take away from this message is that we should all dare to live greatly; to live our lives in the arena. But to not take the criticism of those not living in the arena to heart. As he mentions, it's not their opinion that counts. It is the opinions of those who are in the arena with us. Those who also have the courage to be there. Another great life lesson pointed out is that for those of us willing to have the courage to go after what we want; whether that is expressing our thoughts or feelings, trying something new, or going after our dreams. We learn that none of us will ever get to our goal without knowing heartbreak, defeat or failure. Yet, we still try. Stop weighing your opinion of yourself so heavily on the opinions of the critics who are not in the arena with you. Start looking to those who stand with you there. As Roosevelt says, the credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.