I’ve been working on my inability to take compliments well.
I shy away from being the center of attention; I don’t like having all eyes on me. (Irony that I’m a blogger on the worldwide net? Naaah. I have my computer to hide behind, mwuahaha!)
By the suggestion of many friends, and with some firm nudging from my closest amigos, I am learning the phrase, “Thank you.” Just like that. Simply “thank you.” Not the phrase, “Oh-well-no-not-really-excusesexcusesexcuses-blahblah-annoying-runaround-to-get-myself-out-of-the-compliment-no-just-shut-up-Jess—(gasp!)—BUT THANK YOU!” *smile* (ding!)
Yeah. I do that. A lot.
Their eyes bugged out and they looked confused. Luckily, I quickly recovered and blurted out an apology and something that resembled a thank you. (*No feelings were harmed in the making of this story.*) But I realized that I seriously sucked at saying “thanks” and needed to remedy that immediately.
People often compliment me on my height or my hair color or whatever, and it takes every atom within me to quell the sarcastic response of yeah-no-but-thanks-anyway. JUST SAY THANK YOU. And smile. Don’t forget to smile. It is RUDE not to. And you don’t want to be an asshole, now, do you? Don’t be that guy. I have this conversation with myself every time. Don’t be alarmed if my face goes blank for a minute or contorts into my super attractive “pain-meets-confusion face” (which is still arguably better than my resting-bitch-face)–I’m just arguing with myself in my head. It will pass.
I wonder if it’s not just me…I wonder if our society in general has become numb to daily compliment-giving and compliment-receiving in general. Only a century ago, society was all about extravagantly commenting on the quality of fabric, the detailing on the chinaware, the successes at university, the travels abroad (“how exotic!”), the breed of purse-dog you have (“just darling!”…which is a size, apparently), the state of the latrine (“exquisite!”), etc. Whether the compliments were false or true, it was a habit, and expected of you and of others to give and receive compliments with poise on a regular basis.
Now, I feel the pendulum has swung to the complete opposite side of the spectrum. We often avoid human contact altogether, really. Why can’t we find a happy medium? And a genuine one at that. I want to find a happy medium where I’m not afraid to accept a compliment, nor immediately assume its giver has ulterior motives. I don’t want to withhold compliments, either—I want to be compelled to tell my parents that their kitchen remodel turned out incredible rather than let them assume I think that, or that I am able to go out of my way to tell a street-corner musician that I love his music, or I can “like” someone’s post on whatever social platform because it moves me, not because it’s popular or ‘trending’ or because I will gain more followers from it.
In other words, authentic giving and receiving of compliments. I want that. But maybe my latter thoughts are complete bogus and I’m the only one suffering from this condition. I may never know.
I want to appreciate the fact that a complete stranger went out of their comfort zone to tap me on the shoulder and say, “I love your hair color, it’s so pretty!”, rather than shrivel up on the inside and murmur a thanks-but-no-thanks and scuttle away in retreat. WHY is that so awkward? WHY is that so hard for me? It’s as if I’m not sure how to deal with it—like I don’t believe them. I want to be able to look that person in the eyes, smile genuinely, and say “thank you” and mean it. I want to be able to accept the nice things that others say to me and not be embarrassed or think so lowly of myself that I turn them away and embarrass them.
So I’m working on it.
I want to be nice. Truly, I do. I don’t think many people would necessarily label me “cruel,” with the exception of the elderly couple I almost ran over in the parking lot yesterday—sorry about that. (In my defense, they didn’t look both ways before crossing traffic!) But call me out on it. If you catch me in the act of being that guy when it comes to receiving compliments, just tell me to shut up and take it. I now give you permission to put me in my place. (The powaaaaah!)
Now–go forth, my people, and conquer the world of lauding.