I sat next to my friend as another friend complimented her. I watched her face as someone told her what they admired about her and what they appreciated about her.
And, truthfully, it made me uncomfortable.
Not because what was being said wasn’t true. Not because I felt left out or jealous.
I felt uncomfortable because compliments make me feel awkward. And, apparently, not just when someone compliments me but when someone else gets complimented too.
I am all kinds of messed up and weird.
As I sat there and watched my gracious friend take these compliments, I thought, I want to be like that! I want to act natural when someone says something nice about me.
When the praise was over, you know what my friend said?!
She didn’t dismiss the other person’s opinion by saying something sarcastic to deflect attention. She didn’t respond with excuses to try and discredit the praise. She just said thank you and genuinely meant it.
What the what?
How did I miss this trait growing up? Why do compliments make me feel so unworthy and embarrassed?
I don’t think that it has anything to do with confidence. I know what things I’m really good at (organizing shit, bossing people around, teaching, being creative) and I know what I’m not good at (being compassionate, sharing, driving, being patient, singing). It’s just that I don’t want anyone to bring attention to the good stuff. I just want to do it and then move on.
I seem to be getting weirder as this essay goes on as opposed to more normal like I had hoped. Swell.
So here’s what I’m doing this week: practicing giving compliments to others and practicing accepting compliments from others. It seems simple but for some reason, it’s super hard for me.
Each day, I’m going to be very intentional about complimenting someone. That might seem totally lame to some of you, but other than my kids or my students, I can’t tell you the last person I’ve tried to encourage by complimenting them. I think nice or encouraging thoughts in my head, but for some reasons, they never make their way out of that spot. I am not a good complimenter.
I think that’s a problem so I’m going to work on it.
I’m also going to work on not deflecting a compliment if I get one. Whether it’s from a random stranger or my husband, I won’t respond with something funny or try to change the subject, I’m just going to accept it and say thank you.
This weekend our mailman knocked on our door to deliver a Christmas present I had ordered. My dog Blue and our mailman have the most romantic dog/mailman relationship of all time and it’s just the cutest thing you’ve ever seen. Blue LOVES people and every day, if Blue is outside, the mailman will give him a treat as he passes our gate. If Blue sees our mailman on the other side of the street, he’ll bark to say hi and then the mailman crosses the street to come give him a treat before going back to his route. If Blue is inside when the mailman comes, he cries and cries as he looks out the front window and hears the mailman say hi to him.
Their relationship is just too much adorableness to handle most days.
So when our mailman stopped by to deliver my package on Saturday, Blue came out on the porch to see him. He was hopping up and down like a kangaroo and as the mailman bent down to hand him his treat, Blue peed all over the porch.
He was so excited to see his best friend he peed.
This made the mailman laugh and as Blue ran back inside with an empty bladder and a mouth full of treat, our mailman said, “Well, that is just the best thing I’ve seen all day.”
He was complimenting me! He thought my dog was funny! It was the best thing he had seen all day!
I wish I would have said, thank you! Or maybe even you’re welcome, that might have made sense too.
But what I actually said was, “Sorry. When we get excited we pee a little. It happens to the best of us.”
Now if it had only been a couple days later, I would not have said something super embarrassing to my mailman. I would have just taken the compliment on how awesome my dog is, said goodbye, and shut the door.
Instead I told him I, too, sometimes pee my pants when excited. While somewhat true, my sixty-year-old mailman probably didn’t need to know that.
I need to work on accepting a compliment. I need to work on giving compliments. I need to work on my bladder control.
This is going to be a busy week.