Today, I walked into the campus coffee shop wearing jeans, a black tee, and a red cardigan. I was on a mission to get tea for someone dear to me, and I wasn't there for socializing. Honestly, most social encounters make me anxious. Almost immediately after walking in, I was complimented by the barista who said that I looked cute today. I had no idea the barista was talking to me, and I almost ignored the compliment all together. After they repeated the compliment, I jerked up with a confused expression but somehow muttered out a shy "thank you". I felt strange, almost as if I didn't want to accept the compliment.
That's because a part of me didn't want to. Usually, I wear leggings and baggy tees every day to class because I don't really care what I look like. Is that part of the reason I felt awkward? In reality, compliments have always made me uncomfortable because I feel like I don't deserve kind words. Ever since I was little, I could never accept a compliment. I always felt like they were sympathy words, rather than words to help me grow. Very rarely would I accept a compliment- if I did, it was because my parents were there saying it isn't polite to counteract what was said.
I know what you might be thinking: dressing nicely equals compliments. Granted, it can, but compliments go deeper than outfits and makeup. I was taken by surprise at first, because the compliment WAS based on my appearance, but I also know that most compliments are sincere (whether it is based on your clothes or not). As someone who has severely struggled with self-image and self-acceptance, this made me really think about who I am as a person. Do my peers only compliment me for their benefit? Do I even deserve to be complimented at all? What's the motive behind the words? And frankly, why do strangers say nice things to strangers?
And honestly, I deserve to be told how awesome I am or how cute my outfit is. I deserve to be recognized for my achievements, personality, and yes- even clothes. I deserve to receive compliments, no matter who they come from. The only motive behind sincere compliments is kindness- not to make others question themselves. Sometimes, strangers can be nicer than peers- but that DOESN'T make the compliments any less important.
Everyone, and I mean everyone deserves to be reminded they are amazing. Whether it's your best friend, or your enemy, people are people and we are all a little self-conscious about one thing or another. It may not be obvious, but compliments go a long way- in many ways, too. So thank you, to everyone who has complimented me from the first time I remember to now. I can start accepting your kindness and share it with everyone.