“Like most girls, Emily can’t take a compliment. Around here, if you don’t show outward signs of hating yourself by the 5th grade, everyone calls you conceited.”
– Brian Strause, from the novel Maybe a Miracle
Ok, so am I the only chick on the planet that absolutely can NOT take a compliment?
I saw the above quote in a novel I was reading a while back and it was like a spotlight shown around the sentence with big flashing neon arrows pointing to it saying, “This! This! This!” One little seemingly innocent sentence tucked away in the middle of a paragraph hidden deep inside a novel seemed to be the answer to this conundrum that had plagued me all my life. Maybe that’s why I can’t take a compliment? Maybe it’s just that it has been ingrained in me from an early age not to because I might appear conceited?
Hmmm. Something to think about.
Are you like me? Do you get all weird when someone says you look nice? Do you “pssssssh” it away like I do? I’d be willing to bet you do. Well, let me tell ya a story.
This past weekend, I ran a 10K race early Saturday morning. And, if you don’t mind my saying so, I did pretty darn awesome. (Heh…no worries about sounding conceited about that one, huh?) I didn’t get any medals or place in the coveted top 3 of any of the categories, mind you (in fact, I was dead last in my age group if I’m going to be honest), but ask me if I care? Go on, ask me. What’s that? Do I care? NOPE! Because you know why? The only person I was there to beat was myself. And not only did I beat myself (not now, secret 12-year-old-boy alter-ego-self, this is not the time to make your childish jokes…let me finish my story…), but I blew my old record away. I generally run at an 11-12 minute pace (yes, I know, I’m slow), but my average pace for this race was 10:10, with the first 3 miles all being in the 9 minute range. Dude, I was booking it! And you know what? I was pretty darn proud of myself.
So, fast forward a little later in the day.
My boyfriend’s kids were in a play at the local theatre, so I had rushed home after the race, showered, straightened my hair (that’s what I consider “getting dressed up”), and hit the road again to go watch the two back-to-back performances. Now, as most of you know from my previous blogs, the theatre is my home away from home. I know so many people there, and most of their kids were going to be in this production. So, walking into this little mini-reunion, I started running into people I hadn’t seen in a while – at least not since our last production a few months ago. And, in those past few months, I have been training my hind end off this upcoming half marathon next weekend.
I was immediately greeted with compliments.
“Wow, that running is look great on you!” “You look fantastic!” “Oh, Melissa, you’re just glowing!” “Look how toned you’ve gotten.”
It was like a compliment smorgasbord.
And, oddly enough, instead of blushing in embarrassment like I normally would, I just graciously accepted their compliments. I genuinely thanked them (no ‘psssssssh’es allowed) and let the compliments do their intended job – make me feel good. Later, I thought about that, and wondered why I didn’t have my normal response. Why was I able to accept compliments this time with such ease and gratitude? Before long, it finally dawned on me.
I accepted their compliments….because I believed them.
That was the difference. I have been working hard for the past few months. I have felt my pants getting a little loose and saw the number on the scale dropping slightly. Although those things are not at all the purpose for my running, they have been a nice bonus. And, this particular day, I had put forth a little effort on my hair and makeup, and was probably still riding on the high from my race accomplishment earlier in the day, which probably showed on my face. I was feeling pretty darn good about myself that day and accepted those compliments with open arms.
Boy, wouldn’t it be nice if every day was like that?
Hey, I have an idea.
Let’s make sure they are.
Let’s all make a silent little promise to ourselves to try to make every single day a day in which you are proud of yourself. Let’s make every day a day that you believe the compliments that are tossed your way. Seriously. Let’s do it, people. It may not be all that easy at first, but with practice, it may start eventually coming natural to you. Just like my running. I didn’t start out with the ability to crank out a 10-minute pace 10K. It took lots of time and effort and, most importantly, belief in myself. That’s all we need, right?
So, get out there in this big ol’ world and strut your stuff today, why don’t ya? I mean, you’re looking all good and whatnot, so you might as well, right? Come on, beautiful people. We’ve got some work to do!
“For once, you believed in yourself. you believed you were beautiful and so did the rest of the world.”
– Sarah Dessen, Keeping the Moon