"Wow. You are beautiful."
"Sorry, I just had to say it. You just glow."
"Oh, we just got done at the gym so I'm flushed. And thank you..."
Then I stumbled through the rest of my order. She really threw me for a loop. And yes, I am horrible at taking a compliment. I'm just glad I remembered the thank you after the discounting of the compliment.
Now the crazy thing for me is that I preach this way of life constantly. Later when we were at the grocery store and the woman in front of us in line had Wonder Woman shoes and a Wonder Woman bag it was all I could do not to give her a high five. Instead I just smiled and told her that I loved her shoes and bag. I am a firm believer in complimenting strangers. And the people you know, for that matter.
I tell people it does no good for me to keep my feelings to myself. If I appreciate something about you, or think something you are wearing is cool, or think you have the best smile, or anything else I can keep it to myself or I can tell you and hopefully make you feel good for a moment. I almost always opt to give the compliment.
But I still don't take one well. This morning I had an image in my head as to what I looked like. I had, after all, seen myself in the mirror at the gym when I was changing out of my sweaty workout top and in to a sweatshirt before heading over to breakfast. I had even told Brent I wasn't sure I wanted to go to breakfast before showering. The massive hunger pangs made that decision for me a little easier. But I was pretty sure I looked a mess. To be told I didn't? And with such conviction? It startled me. And of course after she left I told Brent it was a good strategy for getting good tips. Lousy at taking compliments.
I think a lot of us are. We are taught not to be vain. We are taught to stay modest, humble. So we deflect or self-deprecate. We do everything we can to push aside the compliment. And if we don't? If we are the sort of person who accepts them easily or worse compliments ourselves? Then we are full of ourselves. Smug. Vain. Any number of things. None of them good.
Over the years I've actively worked to change that world view for myself and to try to encourage others to do the same. Instead of self-deprecating or deflecting say thank you. Instead of thinking someone is a little too big for their britches admire their self-confidence and try to emulate that. Acknowledge the things you are good at. More than that, own those things. And yes, I know it's really difficult and I am not really good at it for the most part, but I'm trying.
During Birthday Month I encouraged you all to compliment a stranger (and eat cake), now I'm encouraging you all to take a compliment. Don't deflect it. Feel it. Live with it. And the hardest part of all? Believe it. The next time someone tells you that you are beautiful let your first thought be, Yes I am. Then say thank you and smile. Own that shit.
We all need reminders sometimes. Today I got mine from a lovely young woman who then brought me food. She's the best. And I hope she believes that to her very core.