01 March 2013


I don't take compliments well. I don't know why this is, but they just make me uncomfortable because I never know what to say. Thank you always seems, so, not enough. Usually, I'll reply with an awkward pause and then say "Thank you" with a self-deprecating explanation of why the person shouldn't have complimented me because I'm not worth it.

Nice Person: Heather! I love that necklace!

Me: Oh! insert awkward pause Thanks! insert grimace I found it on Etsy for $13. It's just plastic and gold-toned metal. From China. Nothing special.

And even though I know that was horrible, I can't help myself. I do this all the time. The other thing I do is forget to give out compliments. It's not that I don't notice your new haircut or weight loss or new dress on purpose, but I tend to live in my head. So while you are really excited about your new hair color and are hoping I'll say something about it, I'm about a million miles away, probably thinking about a book I just read or wondering if the Pope is picking his eye boogers.

Yes. I think about crap like this all the time. I wish my brain had a Pause button.

This is me. This is where I live. And I never expect compliments. Ever. When I get them, they always surprise me.

It was last Friday night at the Georgia Academic Decathlon and after running around for the fourth time, collecting score sheets and putting out little fires, I sat down to double-check that the score sheets in my hands had been completely filled out. Two high school volunteers from Berkmar High School were sitting on either side of me, waiting for the next round of decathletes to enter the holding area.

As I was engrossed in my checklist, the high school-aged girl to my left said, You have the most beautiful blue eyes. They're so blue!

I froze. I don't ever notice my eyes because they've been mine for 41 years and you don't really see something you've seen all your life. You no longer notice anything special or beautiful about something that has become a part of your existence. We humans are kind of messed up that way. Not only that, but I couldn't think of something apologetic to use in response. I sometimes feel like the Rainbow Fish and that whenever I receive a nice comment, I should share my attribute about which I've been complimented. Since I couldn't pop my eyes out of their sockets and offer one to her (Honestly, how freaky would THAT have been? Plus? She probably would have screamed.) and since apologizing for my parents' combined genetics that gave me these eyes would have made me sound like such an awful person, I said the only thing I could say after such a long, silent pause.

Thank you!

That was it. For the first time, in, EVER, I responded with just a simple thanks and a smile. I didn't apologize or ruin the compliment with my need to tear myself down. I just thanked her.

And because of her, I've noticed my eyes and how blue they really and truly are all week long. Thank you, nameless Berkmar student. You? Have made me appreciate myself just a bit more.


gingerssnaps said...

Must be the Tiara! It's working! AND you have always had gorgeous blue eyes! Missed your posts!

hello haha narf said...

oh how i love some random teenaged stranger for reminding you of how pretty you are!

i do hope you take this wonderful moment and build upon it. thank you truly is enough. perhaps have a conversation changer in your repertoire so you can avoid the tear down. something like, "why thank you! that was kind of you to say. so, how about them steelers?" (in pittsburgh, regardless of the time of year, that is a perfectly acceptable conversation changer. i'm sure you have something similar in georgia. probably about the heat.)

Megan said...

You do have gorgeous blue eyes. I cannot believe no one has told you that before!

Now I feel bad for not telling you.

See how I made that all about me?

You are beautiful. True story.

sybil law said...

You and I are 100% alike in both these ways - the compliments thing and noticing things about other people. So glad someone else is as fucked up as me! Haha!
And yes - you DO have beautiful blue eyes. Love the picture, too!