Dear Nice People of the World,
Compliments are one of my favorite things in the world. Genuine, whole-hearted, humbling compliments. They can instantly make someone’s day better and, though often given in the spur of a moment, can stay with the receiver months or years after the moment has passed. And they take no time at all. ANYONE can compliment. We all have nice thoughts about people hidden somewhere within us. So instead of burying them and biting your tongue, voice a few! It will make the whole world a little nicer, if just for a moment.
The reason why I’m writing about this on such a dreary, rainy morning is because I have amazing friends. Throughout high school, I didn’t go to much. I either felt too insecure to leave my house or talked myself into staying home and “being productive,” which never really happened. Sometimes I just felt that no one would care if I went, and that in itself was enough validation for me to stay home. (PSA: That’s no way to think and no way to live. It all just came down to a screwed up perspective that I had created myself, and that’s how I truly wasted my high school years. If you’re going through the motions the same way I was, I strongly recommend to reevaluate your life and change some things. At the very least, find genuinely nice people to surround yourself with and, in turn, become one of those people yourself.)
Anyway, last night I went out to dinner with some people to celebrate a friend’s 18th birthday and one of my favorite people, Marissa, was there. Let me tell you, this girl gives the best compliments. She’ll just randomly look over at me and say, “Sammy you’re so cute,” or “I love hanging out with you.” Not to the point where it’s overdone or anything, but for example, yesterday when we took a group picture, she said she really wanted to stand next to me. And instead of being paranoid that I was the D.U.F.F. or something, I just let the compliment ring genuine and was flattered.
And these compliments, though they don’t seem like much, are thoughts that stay with me. I’m sure people who have complimented me aren’t aware for how long I stay thankful for it (which may be embarrassing but oh well), but I remember a lot when it comes to people being nice. One day in junior year biology, my friend Adrianne said that my hair color was her favorite. Here I thought it was just your standard brown, but she called it chocolate or something much more attractive and said it was her “dream color.” So for me, who has never been a big fan of my hair, this compliment made my whole day and I still remember it whenever it’s looking particularly flat or lifeless. I’ll think, “at least it’s a good color.”
Now, I understand I shouldn’t use others’ opinions to validate my own self-worth–and I don’t! It’s just that sometimes being confident (for me at least) is hard when you feel like you’re the only person seeing what you see. So you shouldn’t fish for compliments or seek them just so you can feel good about yourself, but you should give them as frequently and genuinely as possible because you have no idea the kind of impact they can have.
My final example is with my teachers. I had to write a total of 24 essays this year for my Teaching Professions program (about one a week, give or take) and after each one my teacher would compliment me on my writing skills. Here’s the thing with compliments, though: they only work if you know how to take them. At first, I didn’t. I was in constant denial. I thought that maybe my teacher couldn’t tell a good essay from an excellent one, making mine simply adequate (after all, his specialization was history–not English). But he was persistent. He complimented me after almost anything I turned in, from September until May. He was constantly telling me how he “could hardly find a mistake in this one!” Or say something like, “you’re a really good writer, you know that?” And by the time the year was over, I did. Or, at least, I believed I did.
This consistency was crucial in the development of my self-confidence and by the time November came around and my English teacher complimented a piece I had written, I was flying. At the end of a movie review I wrote for class he wrote, “I think writing will be a significant part of your life ahead.” Later down the road it occurred to me that he might’ve just tried to write something positive on everyone’s papers and mine was nothing special, but at that moment, the thought didn’t even cross my mind. And that’s the power of compliments. Because those nice words, simple as they were, gave me enough self-confidence to start writing the novel that I intend to finish and publish sometime in my life. See, I’ve always had this passion, but I doubted my abilities much too much to even think about starting a novel. But a few nice words from people who I admired–people who I looked up to, was enough to inspire me and make a difference in my life.
I’m still really new to blogging and writing these kinds of posts, and I think I’m really bad at keeping them short and sweet. But the point is: be nice. Compliments are important and nice people are important. And if you ever notice how passionate or devoted or punctual or caring someone is, what’s holding you back? Tell them! Even if it doesn’t change their life, the least it could do is make their day. Or their hour. And if it could make this person happy for even a minute, that should be enough to keep you from biting your tongue.