I’ve had a tough time writing this post. I’ve erased and started over multiple times. I wrote it to the end once and when I read it back to myself. I wanted to gag, so it too was deleted.
The truth is, I don’t remember being complimented. It is much easier to remember the snarky remarks and yes, even the insults. Compliments? Not so much. I was the youngest of three sisters. Growing up, there was a fair amount of teasing and what I’ve been told was meant to be funny. I wasn’t laughing. This caused me to come out of this period remembering that I had big ears and scabby eyes. I should never try modeling or acting because I was too “silly” looking.
I wrote a letter once to Rick Nelson (for those of you of another generation, he was a heartthrob TV star and I was smitten). My sisters found my letter and proceeded to read it aloud in front of several of their friends. I’m sure you can imagine I did not receive any compliments for my expressive writing. I was frequently reminded by this group of my carefully chosen words that were meant to impress and endear Rick Nelson to me. The letter was never mailed and I was mortified.
Usually, if I did receive a compliment from a teacher or a co-worker, I questioned its sincerity. I had been taught through experience that where you hear a compliment, there is always another side to the story. So, my reaction was usually to wait for the “other shoe to drop”.
I’m happy to report that I have learned to accept a compliment on occasion. I must admit that the snarky comments are still the most believable and frankly the most memorable.
I still remember the comment about my “single eyebrow” that I was told grew across my nose and the time someone mentioned my yellow knee socks and how well they matched my plaid skirt, quickly followed with the comment about them being so bright that maybe I should hang them out on the clothesline to fade.
These comments were hard for me to handle. I felt that somehow, I had missed the boat as far as having my act together was concerned. It made me worry when my sister threatened to run away from home one day. I chased after her begging her to come back.
I hurt for her and I wanted to keep our family together. She smiled at me. Later she told me that she never really intended to run away but it felt good to know that I cared.
I’ve been told that I am too sensitive when I have shared this information in the past. Too sensitive? Words and actions bother me deeply. I have been told that I need to develop a thicker skin and not to let things bother me so much. I’ve read that sometimes our greatest strength is also our greatest weakness. Maybe being too sensitive is my greatest weakness. And maybe in that truth is the compliment. Maybe being told I’m sensitive is my best compliment ever. That is a compliment I am pleased to accept.