Saturday, September 26, 2009

it meant a lot to me, it really did

It is strange how hard it can be to take a compliment. It is a skill to figure out how to accept one gracefully. To accept a compliment is different from merely thanking someone for giving it. Sometimes this is due to embarrassment. Sometimes this is due to skepticism or confusion or self-loathing. Sometimes it is a desire to not appear stuck up or too prideful.

The thing to do is not be a doofus, hear them out and find a genuine way to positively acknowledge what they say.

To not accept it gracefully is ungracious to the giver. A challenge to their judgment, their powers of observation, their discernment.

But sometimes the compliment itself is so odd or misplaced or generic that one does not know how to react. Often a compliment will seem very generic, even if it is sincerely meant and expressed. Or misplaced.

There is this quote that I heard first on "My So-Called Life" that went something like:

"What you are is God's gift to you, what you do with it is your gift to God."

It occurs to me that this idea comes into play with the compliments that people give you. When they compliment you on things that are "God's gift to you," they are complimenting you on something you had nothing to do with. Best to pass those along to your parents and grandparents. Chalk it up to luck, genetics, Providence.

But compliments pertaining to "your gift to God" are a product of your actions and choices. Often they are very specific to you.

At a show recently someone told me that she thought that my diction and my phrasing were very good. At the same show, someone told me that he liked that it was not just singing, that I was very Broadway in my interpretation. In the time that I have sung in front of people, these were among rare instances in which someone complimented me on my musicianship or my performing and not my pipes.

JY at one point called me a "stalwart lass" and JJsn once called me a "Game-y Broad." Which is basically code for "stubborn foolish (probably drunken) moron." I am not sure that either statement was meant as a compliment. But they were observations that jibed with how I try to roll in this life. Observations that made me feel like someone was actually paying attention and perhaps, liked something about me that I like about myself.

These were not all compliments graciously received but I will say, when someone compliments you on "your gift to God," ...

"There's nothing like it, there's nothing like it in the world." -
Richard Maltby, Jr.


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