I just realized I am unsure of how to react when someone gives me a compliment. I am not talking about the basic “oh that’s a nice dress” or “you look nice today” followed by a simple “Thanks!” More like when someone comes up to you and says “I read your blog, you write SO well, I can completely relate, it’s like you read my mind!” I mean WOW. Inside I am so elated I have no idea how it translates on my face.
Usually I smile and say thank you but the sentiment comes across flat. I am bowled over by the wonderful things the person is saying and my inner cynic starts drowning it out by whispering Oh please, it wasn’t even that great. You could write so much better. They really liked this crap? A real Pulitzer worthy article wasn’t it? Ugh…how do I turn Scrooge McGrumpy grumps off?
I suppose it is partly my nature. I try to be humble (why does that sentence sound pompous?). But thinking about it some more made me realize nurture has a lot to do with it as well. I was raised polite and part of that meant not to let things get to your head for fear of the dreaded enlarged ego. This also meant if you achieved something, not much of a hue and cry was made out of it; old school desi parenting at its best. The success was acknowledged and perhaps you were rewarded, but then you moved on to strive for better. (I’m compensating by over praising my 3 year old- probably not a good idea)
Then I entered the work force and as luck would have it the culture there (as with most organizations) was “work harder do better”. A vicious cycle because there was always room to improve. Even if you had many successes, tomorrow was another challenging day and you could not rest on your laurels. Practically speaking a smart way to look at things but you often were left feeling like the excited puppy anxiously waiting for approval from his master. One quickly learned to suck it up and find that pride and approval internally.
My work ethic is so strongly entrenched in this way of thinking that it will take me some time to adjust the level a bit. I will always think whatever I did was never good enough and that I could always do better, everyone has an inner critic but I will channel it to help me improve. I won’t ever let the wonderful words of others get to my head, but I will learn to accept their comments as having truth to it and use it as motivation to keep going.
Next time you say something nice to me and I stare at you with a glazed expression, please feel free to slap me and say “Dude, relax just take it in”. It’s nice to bask in bits of glory from time to time.