We’re all broke down
We’re all well hid
We’re all just kids
Despite our age
–Nathaniel Rateliff/Nothing To Show For
Accepting a compliment can be tricky.
Somehow, I can take a compliment about something like my looks. Thank you suffices. I am not particularly graceful about it, but I manage. Compliments about my work are pretty normal.
When it comes to accepting a compliment about something I am responsible for, something I have created, it is a different thing entirely. Why is that?
If someone says “I loved your blog post yesterday” or “I love the hat you’re wearing, did you knit it?” it puts me right back into elementary school. That inflated sense of pride you get when you show your mom you made something all by yourself. Like a big girl.
It simultaneously makes a compliment more and less important than it really is.
The response is still “thank you,” but it feels weird somehow. It’s like I’m showing someone a macaroni necklace instead of a cashmere shawl. A god’s eye made of acrylic yarn instead of a silver ring.
When you create something, you want any compliments received to be genuine. The opposite of the ones you might get for that stunning picture of your family you drew in the third grade. You don’t want that Mom-proud “that’s really nice, honey.”
So how do you shift out of that headspace?
I can fake the thank you and force myself not to add a disclaimer, but my initial gut reaction is always to criticize my creations. Children in third world sweatshops know how to knit, after all. I point out all the spots where something is imperfect. Where I didn’t find a good word. I want to be sure everyone understands that it’s all macaroni necklaces and finger painting.
Yes, I can admit I am creative, but I don’t want anyone to think I think I am any good at any of it.
Which just sounds like a plea for more compliments, right?
I’ll keep practicing.