I feel cringing-and-squirming uncomfortable when people compliment me. Just acknowledging compliments makes my skin crawl. A handful of folks have said really nice things about some of my blogs in the past month, and I’ve ignored them best I can. But in this impersonal moment in front of my computer I can finally say thank you. It’s so kind of you, and it does inspire me to keep dumping my thoughts.
I don’t know why that’s so hard for me to say. Jesse’s the same way. Her therapist, the supreme practical man, says, “some people are just really bad at accepting compliments.” Helpful insight.
When I was working in a law firm, I didn’t have to worry about compliments. There was always something for partners to complain about, and whatever you did right was always in the past. As a last resort, if faced with really irreproachable lawyering, partners could just shit on your billable hours.
Before that, I studied classical music right through college. Compliments in that extremely competitive field come few and far between, so that worked for me too. My all-time favorite compliment came from a tiny French fellow who taught in the music theory department at Oberlin. I don’t remember his name. He walked with a massive limp – might have been a prosthetic leg – and wore a jaunty beret. His personality didn’t fit the hat. I had just finished up my oral exam in his office. It consisted of things like sight-singing a new piece of music to him while beating the time. Imagine this happening in an office with the floor dimensions of a twin size bed. Imagine if I had bad breath. Now say this to me in your very best French accent: “you have no talent, but you are very well trained.”
I loved him for looking me in the eyes as he said it. I walked out of his office with a smile on my face and an A on my transcript.