Sunday, September 1, 2013

Lessons from the high school popularity quest II

(This video was the inspiration for this post. WARNING: it does contain some pretty rough language which you may not appreciate. If you don't choose to watch, the idea is that women aren't good at accepting compliments.)

These same girls, despite doling out compliments left and right, couldn't seem to accept one themselves. "Oh no way! YOU, you are the best (insert compliment). I'm just the worst (insert previous compliment)."

Maybe growing up as an identical twin where comparisons were commonplace and yet the common reassurance from our parents that we were both great made it incredibly frustrating later in life to have compliments deflected back to me. I knew that my sister and I could BOTH be good students, piano players, friends. We could BOTH be pretty, smart, funny, kind. Especially the part about being pretty. Duh, if I could be pretty, so could she (as we looked "exactly alike."). 

Maybe that is why it seemed so dumb that every compliment I gave was sent back. "Oh no! You are the pretty one/smart one/nice one/funny one/etc one. I'm the ugly one/dumb one/mean one/boring/one/etc on." 

I found this incredibly frustrating. Why couldn't we both be awesome? How come I found myself arguing about this on an almost daily basis?

I think we live in a world where we are so used to scarcity that it is hard to remember it doesn't apply in everything we possess. Yes, if I have this dress, you clearly do not. If I eat this pizza, you don't get to eat it later. But some things we can both have like kindness, fulfilling careers, loving families, even the same friends, compassion, talent. And even if we have you have more kindness or I have more friends it shouldn't take away from what you have.

And secondly, I found it insulting. It doesn't make a lot of sense that in an attempt to flatter me I have actually been insulted in my good taste and judgement. When I sincerely say, "I really like your outfit. You have such a great fashion sense!" and you respond, "Whatever, this is the grossest thing ever. I have horrible taste in clothes," then it automatically means I must like gross things, too. There have been times I have been surprised to receive a compliment, don't get me wrong. In these instances, I find it tempting to argue. Instead, I may acknowledge this, "Wow, you really think I did an okay job on that talk? I was feeling pretty frazzled so thank you, that makes me feel a lot better!"I'm not perfect at this but I think it is important to give ourselves a break and our friends one too when they make an attempt to be nice.

Instead, let's give sincere compliments and acknowledge them by simply accepting them with two small words:

Thank you.

Even if you don't believe it, it's nice to trust that maybe someone else does.

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