I don’t take compliments well. I’m a master compliment deflector. You shoot a compliment in my direction and my snark-laden bronze cuffs will deflect each one with proper self-deprecation.
Somone’s innocuous “Your hair looks great!” will always be met with an “Oh my grey is so out of control.” Or, “That’s a really pretty dress” will lead to “I’ve put on so much weight that I can’t wear pants.”
It’s unfortunate, really. Compliments are often so few and far between that I should embrace each one with a broad, welcoming smile and a hearty “Thanks!” But I don’t.
Maybe it stems from me being raised to be unremarkable. Nothing I ever did was worthy of first place. Sure, when I was 12, I was runner up at the 4H state finals for my area in food and nutrition (my beef stir fry was remarkable). And I did get that little third place trophy for UIL Ready Writing in the third grade. There are hosts of other almosts and not quites and pretty damn closes in my life. But winning or succeeding or being recognized, not so much. So, when it does happen on the rare occasion that something I’ve done is complimented, I’m utterly confused about how to receive that. My eyes will dart away. Side-eye ensues. Are they talking to me? I wonder, looking over my shoulder to see if the real target of praise is standing behind me.
Take, for example, my writing. It seems as though I’m inherently unable to accept that some people actually do read what I write and they actually do get it and like it and sometimes what I have to say is meaningful to someone other than me.
Twice this week, my most heartfelt piece “Motherhood and Mortality” has been met with compliments from people whom I would never expect to have read it in the first place.
While wrapping up a routine, weekly tag-up with one of my staff, he mentioned that he reads my blog. “Some of your writing really resonates with me,” he said. “Especially your piece on aetheism.”
I think I started to sweat. I fidgeted nervously looking for some way to deflect.
“Oh that, what a mess that was when I read it on stage. Can you believe that some woman walked up to me afterward and offered me a Dollar Store book on Jesus? Explaining that she was lost like me once too? What a mess, clearly she hadn’t been paying attention.”
Admittedly, he looked confused. I was a hot mess.
And then there’s my friend’s devout Catholic mother, who recently watched my video from Listen to Your Mother (which she called How I Met Your Mother). I received a sweet text from my friend telling me that her mom watched it and was drawn to tears and blown away by both what I read and how I read it.
You know what I texted back?
“Awww, that’s really sweet. And it’s Listeen to our Mother, NPH was not affiliated with the production :-)”
Sometimes my inability to just say thank you makes me a real asshole.