…and goshdarnit! People like me. I think.

Yesterday I blogged about the differentiation in my mind between pride and arrogance. Today I am going to focus on how confusing the two affects my self-esteem. Hopefully working this out in words will help me understand how to find better balance and grace.

It’s frustrating to me when I try to pay someone a compliment, and they won’t accept it. I don’t feel obliged to flatter people, as it is a compliment given for selfish reasons. Since I don’t dole out petty affirmations, when I say something nice to someone, I mean it. And it makes me uncomfortable or annoyed when the person/people in question can’t simply be gracious and say “Thank you.”

So… I wonder if that answers my question before I even ask it.

The point was made to me that there really isn’t a question of accepting/absorbing compliments and affirmations, since getting them at all is itself the compliment. Many people don’t get any, so how can I be so ungrateful as to discard friendly gestures and comments? With this in mind, I feel like the proverbial swine before whom pearls are cast. It really is unkind not to accept random acts of love and beauty.

And yet, there are two obstacles in my head: 1) I don’t want others to perceive me as being arrogant and 2) if I don’t believe the compliment, it makes me either wonder what the person’s motive is, or I immediately look for something negative to cancel the compliment out. Something about our culture that really pisses me off is that on the one hand everyone is expected to be an independent, self-sufficient individual, but on the other hand martyrs are made into saints.

If I accept my own positive qualities and become confident, well, then people knock me down for being too full of myself. But once I’m knocked down people then build me back up. I mean… Whuh?? I honestly don’t get it, and this confusion between pride and arrogance seems to make most people simply throw their hands in the air and say, “I’m average, and that’s all I need.” Bullshit! Each person on this planet should be allowed and encouraged to celebrate his own goodness and the strengths of others without fear of being emotionally neutered.

That’s just the way it is. But it shouldn’t be.

This is going to be a gradual shift, I know this already. But I think that a first step I can make, which won’t necessarily be legible to anyone else, is to simply not look for a fault to balance a strength. “You have/are (insert compliment)” requires only a “Thank you” on the outside and a moment of gratitude on the inside. And I also think I want to compliment myself more. In fact, I think I’m going to ask myself out on date, since I’m so fucking fabulous. My friend Annie engaged herself. I may have to consider that as well (do I have to move to Connecticut or Massachusetts for it to be legal?).

Author: Devon Hunter

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3 Comments

  1. I think part of the problem our society has with compliments has its’ roots in the Judeo-Christian tradition of viewing pride as a sin. My family background is WASP of the hard-nosed Methodist and Presbyterian type. Compliments were not liberally doled out, but criticisms were. That way we would not get “swollen-heads”. What we managed to get as adults were neuroses and hang-ups. Oh well, such is life.

    BTW if I asked myself out on a date I would probably stand myself up!

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  2. HAHA. I am classic person who no no no understands how to take a compliment. There’s something about other people voices how good they think I look that just makes to very suddenly aware of how I look (which ends up making me a bit insecure.) Like they noticed the good things. They must have noticed the bad things.
    But I will take your advice and say Thank You next time.

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