I had coffee with a friend this week and she mentioned the blog, Hala! and God bless her.
She was particularly triggered by the post I wrote about paying people compliments, and the fact that we can be pretty stingy with our admiration.
“You know why I don’t get compliments?” she asked me, apparently not expecting an answer because she didn’t let me get a word in edgewise.
“Because I deflect them. I’m like a superhero with a shield. They make me so Goddamn uncomfortable that my face and chest get bright red, and I either start laughing or I tell the person to shut up.”
Did I hear that right? I’d seen her blush, maybe even giggle, but the shut up part…
She could tell by the expression on my face that her statement needed further explanation.
“I just did it the other day, the guy at the car wash complimented my choice of vehicle and I ran away. Like a nine-year old. But before I did, I told him to shut up. It was like a reflex, a hit and run, I just blurted it out…Shut Up!” she was clearly mortified, but on a roll.
“Hey, you have nice eyes. Shut up! Fuck you, Perv!” Now she was acting it out, with hand gestures and everything.
“Nice job on that report. Shut up! Asshole! Raise your bar! You need higher standards!
Oh My God whats wrong with me? It’s like I have Compliments Tourette’s.”
We were both laughing, yet at the same time I realized that what she does is more common than we’d all like to admit.
Why can’t we take a compliment gracefully? The key word here being: grace.
I used to be terrible at it too. I’d look at my feet and mumble a very insincere thank you, when all I wanted was for the perpetrator of the abomination to disappear. Insecurity I suppose. Feeling unworthy? You betcha.
Back in the day, people used to compliment me on my big, white teeth, (now thanks to Crest White Strips they are a dime dozen) and it made me cringe. I had done NOTHING whatsoever to earn those teeth. Okay, maybe worn braces and brushed, but honestly, they were just the luck of the draw. Like winning at Poker. So it never felt like it was right to say thank you.
Now I do. I jump at the chance. Sure, God and my parents gave me great teeth, but I’ve maintained them and appreciated them EVERYDAY. Plus after fifty you’re just so grateful when someone says anything without prefacing it with Ma’am.
These days I also chase that good feeling you get when you give a compliment.
Like an addict with a drug.
I give out compliments like Tic Tacs. Because people deserve them. AND it gets me high.
“Oh but wait” she warned, holding her palm up to face me, “It gets worse. If you don’t hate me already, you will after this!”
“Well Okay – Don’t leave a sister hanging – spill it!” I was playing along with her game of ‘true confessions’.
“I don’t pay ANYONE a compliment, doesn’t matter what they did, even if I’m thinking it, I don’t say it because I want to save them the humiliation that I feel.
That’s fucked up…right?”
I wouldn’t dare judge her. That made perfect sense to me and it actually possessed more altruistic overtones than not wanting to make a fool of yourself, which was the most common reason I used to come up with for not complimenting the people who deserved them.
We had a laugh and a damn good cup of coffee. But it really got me to thinking…
What do you guys think about this?
Are you like my friend? Is it all just too humiliating for words?
Does that humiliation override how good it feels to give or get a compliment? Or have you become so grateful, like me, when someone throws one your way that you can’t say thank you fast enough?
Have you developed grace or are you still searching for it, like my friend? How did it happen for you?
I’m curious. Tell me in the comments.