532 Words on: Feedback

It’s nice to get good feedback. People expressing their support for what you do, whatever it might be in that instance, really helps those of us (and I know there are lots of us) who constantly tell ourselves we’re not good enough.

Every now and then, though, maybe nine or ten times a year, I get negative feedback. Negative feedback can be important because it grounds us, stops us from taking ourselves too seriously and if we channel it correctly it can make us better. But it can also reinforce those dark voices in our heads saying “see, I told you you were shit”.

Last week someone told me they like my writing, “just not all that Roma rubbish you bang on about”. This happens sometimes. It doesn’t usually bother me because writing about Roma makes me happy, which in turn gives me the emotional space to write about some of the things you might be more interested in. As Neil Young said when he discussed Greendale in the same interview as the quote on the ‘about’ page of this blog – “this album made six others possible”.

This time it did bother me though. It caught me in a vulnerable moment and really cut deeply – in ways I know the person who said it could never have intended, but it hurt all the same.

My first instinct was to get straight onto my tablet and write a 532 word blog post consisting solely of the words “FORZA” and “ROMA” repeated until the quota was filled. But then I decided it might be more useful to tell you what Roma really means to me, so maybe some people will cut me a little slack.

To me, Roma is more than just a team I support. It’s about looking at a crest and feeling safe. Like I belong somewhere and to something in a world that constantly tells me I’m neither a real Italian nor a proper Kiwi.

A lot of things got taken away from me when I was a kid. It started with my dad, who passed away when I was three. Then it was my mum, thanks to my abusive stepfather who said I was worthless and resented every second my mother spent with me. And then it was my ability to make friends and sustain the few friendships I did manage to get, thanks to bullies.

Roma is something nobody can ever take away from me.

My stepfather used to tell me my “eyetalian father was an asshole, and now you’re an asshole too”. The kids at school used to delight in humiliating me daily by calling me “enzymes” while they competed to see who could trip me over on the way to class.

Some of the scars from this have followed me into adulthood. But now the biggest thing they taunted me about, my heritage, is one of my biggest sources of strength. And Roma connects me to it.

So when I rant about Roma, it might seem like a drag to you, it might even make you like me less, but it’s much more important to me than your approval.

And also – I please myself with this one.