By Sophia Sajan (’22)
Them: “Your speech was by far the best, you’re so good!”
Me: “No, it was so bad, I messed up so many times and I hate it.”
How does one respond to such praise? I can tell you for sure that is exactly how I would respond. Do I take it and risk looking stuck up, or do I deny them and have an argument? What is the right answer? I don’t want anybody to ever look at me and see a massive ballooning ego. But I want to be able to take a compliment instead of refuting and appearing like I want even more compliments. Because I don’t. I am simply uncomfortable.
I know a lot of people are like this because even though I am incapable of taking one, I hand out compliments like the freshman hand out class election fliers.
Let’s assume for a second that we are all aware of our self-worth and that it’s undoubtedly sky-high as it should be. And if you believe you aren’t worth the crap from my dog’s bottom, go read my article “Confidence: the lifetime struggle of body image” for some inspiration.
Anyway, as I was saying, you are worth it. So why deny that? I get it, I get it, you don’t want to get a big head. That’s understandable. But you have to acknowledge that yes, that speech on Global Warming (or Climate Change, whatever) was pretty good. Yes, I am pretty good at volleyball, thank you, I have been playing my whole life. Or thank you, I spent a lot of time on my makeup this morning, so I am glad somebody noticed! Maybe I am kinda smart in math, I study really hard.
If you say “thanks”, the world will not end. The room won’t go dead silent as everybody turns to look at you and whisper “omg they’re so cocky”. Nobody cares. What’s worse is when someone’s actually trying to let you know they appreciate your acute sense of style, for example, and you insist that it’s all uglier than dumpster trash.
Arguing with a well-intentioned compliment is like trying to give back an expensive birthday present. You secretly love it and really want to keep it, but for some reason to maintain your good image, you feel you must refuse. When someone disagrees with a compliment to their hair, for example, me telling them it looks absolutely gorgeous curled like that and them replying that its a piece of cat poo, makes me want to take the compliment back.
I did not come over here to argue with you, Karen; I thought I’d just let you know that your put-together look brightened my day, but nevermind then!
After a while with my friends, I began to agree with them. I tell my best friend her outfit is glorious, and she tells me it’s all cheap rubbish, and then I agree. “Oh, you know what, now that I’ve gotten a closer look you’re right. Even a homeless woman wouldn’t put on that top” First of all, the looks of utter shock are priceless. Second of all, people actually feel what they’re saying about themselves when it’s said by someone else. Kind of like the way my brother can push me around, but if another person tries to he’ll whoop ’em. We say whatever degrading thing about ourselves we can come up with, but we don’t realize just how much it stings until someone else says it or agrees with it. Then they feel defensive of themselves and want to refute their own words.
So, next time you want to refuse a compliment, think about what you’re saying. There’s no way you want this person to believe that your excellent art project was actually a bunch of sad mistakes and coincidences and you’re not the good artist they think you are. Why not let them believe? How would you feel if they were to say, “oh, nevermind, this is entirely devoid of skill, you just got lucky. Toodles!” I mean, come on, and you understandably secretly enjoy the compliment. Because you worked hard, put extra effort into it, and now are being recognized.
Also, think about the situation. If we are in the ISC and I run across the room to you only to say your shoes are to die for, why would I take all that effort (yes, crossing the ISC takes tremendous amounts of energy) just to be fake and lie to your face?
People need to lift each other up, not put each other down. Accept compliments. Life’s so much easier when you do. Don’t say “yeah, I know I’m amazing” because that’s what a ginormous ego looks like; however simply saying, “thank you” isn’t going to hurt anyone, least of all hurt you.
Start with a thank you. That’s the first step.