I don’t take compliments well. As young as a student in elementary school, I could not allow myself to feel pride. Honestly, for whatever reason, I felt ashamed of being proud of anything I did.
A little over a month or so go, someone complimented me on my eye shadow. In the moment, I thought, “Eye shadow? I didn’t even try and it doesn’t look right.”
Ashamedly, I may have even thought it was a far cry from compliments for good grades, winning the County Science Fair, or even winning an Emmy Award.
All accomplishments and all compliments can be created equal. It’s not about what you are complimented for, but who you are; your character and your deeper ambition in your achievement. Personally, I have never found sustained joy in embarking on a task or a journey with the hopes of being praised. However, just like most people, even when I am ashamed of my pride, a compliment, especially an unexpected one, does feel really good.
I don’t remember what I said, but I remember what the person said back to me.
“Next time, just say thank you,” she said. It’s something I’m still working on. When you open yourself up for true compliments, you’re able to discern them from flattery.
Flattery is not a compliment, and most often come from a place of selfish ambition.
A sincere compliment comes from a place of wanting to encourage someone else, meaning it, and nothing more.
Last night, a colleague gave me a compliment that elevated my self-esteem to a new place. I said I was embarrassed to feel proud, and on the inside I just kept giving the glory to God.
“You should feel proud,” she said.
“Thank you,” I pray I said back (and probably a few other things, too). With pause, and true thanksgiving, I had to say, “I’m only as good as my team and the people I work with.”
My active ambition is to take a real sincere compliment, receive it graciously, and pay it forward. That is, I am learning to complement the compliments.
Philippians 2:3 (NIV)
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit,
but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”