Accepting compliments is a tricky business—so much so that I mostly feel uncomfortable receiving any compliment of any kind. I know that some people are able to gracefully accept compliments, but I have yet to master how to do that. I don’t think I’m alone here—it’s a pretty universal thing that women deflect, self-deprecate, change the subject, or implode, instead of simply saying “thank you.” Just today, somebody said that my hair looked nice, and I responded with, “It’s filthy,” like an unimaginable ingrate.
Amy’s bit on how women are loathe to accept complements nails it. Heads up, the video’s got some salty language, so put your headphones in if you’re pretending to work.
Let’s all share the best compliment we’ve ever received!
As twisted as it might sound, you could say that I don’t like receiving compliments. Or, perhaps more accurately, I crave them endlessly, but when they happen, I end up feeling self-conscious. Well, this is a pretty stupid way to live.
Starting today, I’m just going to say “thank you” and assume that people mean well with their compliments. Because they do. And I want to value the intention behind the compliment and the person who was kind enough to voice something positive about me.
The best compliment I ever received was from my friend David. David and I have been close since high school, and he and I were talking about what we were like as teens.
I have a joke that I embarrassingly tend to repeat about falling in love with my boyfriend, Jordan Catalano. We were very young when we met and stereotypical awkward teenagers—braces, bad skin, awkward hair cuts, gawky posture, pretentious music taste, awful personalities, and social ineptitude.
Miraculously, we were attracted to each other and fell in love. The joke is that that’s how we knew it was real—we were disgusting both physically and otherwise, but we fell in love anyways. It’s not a great story, but I keep trying to make it work.
Instead of David saying something insincere like, “you were super hot as a seventeen-year-old. Your braces and total lack of social graces were sexy,” David put it in this way that stuck with me. He said, “You are a good investment. You keep getting better.”
I adore that. I love the idea that I’ve known someone for years who has seen me grow into an approximation of the type of person I’d one day like to be and has confidence that I’m going to get there. At the time, I kind of brushed it off or, more likely, said something self-deprecating. But I haven’t forgotten it, and I love it. I think all of my friends are good investments.
I spoke to some of my coworkers about the best compliments they’ve ever received, and here’s what they said.
This horribly creepy guy at my first job once told me I made smiling look easy. I thought that was so nice. For a second, he wasn’t that creepy. (Ed note: This is an exceptionally accurate way to describe Julie.)
I’m always flattered when people compliment my ability to write or make them see the world in a new way. Also, I’m just floored whenever somebody says that I’m attractive because I have a really hard time seeing myself as desirable. But nothing floored me like the time my friend Jules said that I have really pretty eyes.
I was super taken aback because I don’t recall anyone ever saying that before. My eyes are just dark brown with very sparse eyelashes due to my problems with trichotillomania, and I’m always wearing glasses. So when she said that I have really pretty eyes, I’m pretty sure that I looked at her like she sprouted an extra head. Anyway, I appreciate it all the same!
Pretty sure my best/weirdest compliment was the time I was walking around Canal Street looking for the subway while wearing glasses and a tweed jacket and carrying a big book around. A dude in a truck called out to me and was all: “I want you to teach me SCIENCE!!” And I was very appreciative that he put so much thought into his catcalling because I had inadvertently dressed like a high school Earth Science teacher.
The best compliment I’ve ever received was given to me at a birthday party in the middle of last summer. I was wearing one of my favorite summer dresses, a poppy-red vintage number from the sixties that fits so perfectly, you’d think it was fabricated just for me. The dress deserves a lot of credit for the compliment.
Approaching the party, I saw three dudes I knew sitting on the stoop of the building: a close buddy of mine, the birthday boy, and one of their childhood friends. Their friend, who I’d only met once or twice before, said, “When you walked up, the whole world became technicolor.” My heart swelled because it’s such an intensely nice thing to hear, but the moment was promptly murdered when the birthday boy followed that statement up with a sarcastic “nice party dress, dummy.”
This might sound really lame, but the best compliment I ever got was from Joanna, who once told me a few months ago that I had hair like the girls on Pretty Little Liars.
I have a borderline psychotic obsession with my hair, and I spend a lot of time on it but am never fully satisfied with the results. Also, my hair idols ARE the girls on Pretty Little Liars because their hair is amazing. So this was easily the best thing for me to hear.
Also, once I made yummy garlic bread, and my boyfriend ate a bite and said, “I’m going to keep you around forever.” That was nice too (but not as nice as the hair thing).
The best compliment I ever received was when an ex-partner of mine told me I changed sex for him in a positive way. It wasn’t that it was an ego boost — though, if I recall, I blushed furiously — but it was the fact that for so long, I had seen myself as desperately trying to claw for positivity during sexual experiences because I had had such awful, damaging ones as a child and teenager.
It was the first time that, instead of thinking about how other people affected my sex life (for better or for worse), I could actually see myself as a beneficial force in somebody else’s sexual history, body image, and happiness.
So, what’s the best compliment you’ve ever received?