It’s late evening when my last class of the day ends. I’m mentally exhausted, ready for dinner, and “zoomed out,” but there’s an email notification from Sakai: my professor has uploaded feedback on an assignment. I download the document and start to read through it.
With every comment I feel my level of anxiety rising. The negative thoughts start flooding in: “There’s so much I have to revise! I’ll have to cancel my weekend plans now.”
Even worse, I begin negatively interpreting my professor’s comments. Analyzing each sentence, I imagine disappointment and judgment embedded in every word. I shut the computer, now tired, hungry, and feeling bad about myself.
Since working at the Virtual Writing Center, I’ve come to appreciate that feedback can have a strong emotional impact, and many factors can affect how the writer reads and understands it.
This realization made me rethink my own approach to receiving feedback. I’ve noticed that when I read feedback in the morning, while I’m mentally fresh and more emotionally receptive, I can use it more productively. Rather than feeling too overwhelmed to even look at my paper again, I can make a plan for the revision process.
In preparing for receiving feedback, I’ve also gained a deeper appreciation for practicing mindfulness, especially in my reactions to the reviewer. For instance, when I catch myself making assumptions about what my professor thought, or interpreting the “tone” of their comment, I remind myself that the way a sentence sounds to me may not be how it was intended.
Even with all these preparations, it can still be challenging to receive feedback. So, I take a deep breath. I tell myself that I’m a student, here to grow and learn. And, I never look at feedback past dinnertime.