"Your Sweater Makes Your Eyes Pop"

Last week, I went to the annual YMCA/YWCA of Guelph Women of Distinction nomination ceremony. Having co-nominated a colleague of mine, I wanted to show my support and appreciation for all she does in, for and beyond our community. It was an inspiring night and, let’s just say, I am glad I am not on the committee who is responsible for picking the winner for each category.

Afterwards, some of us were talking about how many women struggle with receiving compliments. One of us joked (it could have been me, I cannot recall) about what would happen if we went up to a man and said, “wow, that tie sure makes your eyes pop”. Would they brush it off, justify their tie choice or feel the need to pay a compliment back? (Side note: I do acknowledge the presence of stereotypes in the above comments and that gender, per se, does not make it easier or more difficult when taking in compliments. I also recognize there are many factors that play into why and what individuals make compliments about). 

Later that evening, I met up with the board games group I am a part of and thought I would test our theory. Please note this experiment has no scientific validity and that I, myself, am not fashionable and would not know what does or does not make one’s eyes pop.

Me: “Hey Jerome (name changed), the colour of your sweater makes your eyes pop”.

Group: Silence, stares of confusion made in my direction

Jerome: “Um, Thanks”.

Dammit! I was hoping for something more. A justification or some sort of shyness… a change in subject perhaps… something! I then explained to the group why I made my compliment.

All joking aside, I’m glad he was able to take my compliment, even if it was out of confusion. I challenge you, moving forward, to do the same and say ‘thank you’ when one is given to you, regardless of whether or not you believe it.  We do not have to keep putting ourselves down or discounting what others see in us… it is possible to change the tape in our heads and ears. I do not know about you, but I am sure thankful that others see positive things in me because, from time to time, when I’m hard on myself, I need the reminder that there is another perspective out there other than my own! There has to be a middle ground between self-deprecation and being unapologetic. Here enters humility.  In this case, humility honours what others see in us, while self-deprecation hinders self-worth from taking root, and being unapologetic disregards the shared greatness of others.

I know there were women who felt their nomination was unnecessary or perhaps, even a mistake. That they could easily think of someone in their life who they thought deserved it more. We all have moments, from time to time, where we think we are frauds. I think it is possible to recognize the areas we would like to improve, while equally acknowledging the parts of ourselves that are pretty great! And we all have each of these areas…. the question is, will you allow yourself to see/hear both?