My old college buddy—writer and editor Adam Kleiner—is plugging away editing my next book.  When each round of his feedback arrives, it’s loaded with criticism.   

“This section needs tightening.”
“Fact check—support with a real example.”
“This feels entirely speculative to me.”   
“Too many references to soccer and trigonometry.  Mix it up.”

it’s not exactly a cheerleading squad.  But he’s doing exactly what I want him to do.

Adam knows a lot more than I do about how to publish a book people will love reading.  He understands what I’m trying to do with the book but isn’t afraid to tell me the truth about what’s missing or just isn’t good enough.  I don’t need a cheerleader any more than I need a cranky hack who’s predisposed not to like anything I write.  That’s why I chose him to be my critic.   

There’s a lot of uninvited and counterproductive criticism lobbed around in high school, but you can invite helpful criticism from people you trust who know what they’re talking about, and you can give them permission to be honest. 

Tell your drama instructor how much you want to nail the role and ask her what you could do to improve.  Show your articles to your journalism teacher and ask what would make them even better.  Ask your football coach what you would really have to do to be a starter next year.

Imagine how much better your work could be if you invited the right criticism (and how liberating it would be to ignore the critics you didn’t pick).