Throughout my life I’ve always found it hard to take a compliment; be it about the way I deal with my Cerebral Palsy, something I’ve written, or whatever t-shirt I’ve decided to throw on that day. I always find it hard to listen to people talk about my strengths, and I am always very quick to point out my own flaws.
But, the other day, something happened that took me entirely y surprise.
I was fully absorbed in browsing at a local second hand bookstore, hoping to find something new to buy, when I heard a voice I didn’t recognise.
“I just wanted to tell you that I think you do really well.” I jumped out of my skin and looked up to find a lady I didn’t recognise gazing at me with a really kind smile on her face.
“Oh sorry love, did I make you jump? I just wanted to tell you that I think you do really well.”
I’m never sure how I should respond to this kind of thing smiled and said thank you and she started to wonder away, but then she turned back, “You know, when people stare or look at you, they’re only doing it because they think you’re nice. I see you on the bus sometimes and I think you’re nice.”
And just like that, something clicked in my brain. It can’t have been easy for this lady, a stranger, to have come up to me and told me that, but she did it anyway, because I looked relaxed and happy enough for her to feel comfortable enough to do it. Surely that is the biggest compliment of all?
That day, instead of getting all shy and wondering why someone would say something nice to me just because I do the best that I can do in life, I felt really humbled that she’d taken time out of whatever she was doing just to tell me that, and I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t do the same for everyone that she thought seemed like a good person.
I want to be the person who looks approachable, and happy and comfortable in the street, and I want people to feel that they can talk to me without worrying that they might upset me, and clearly, that day, I was doing something right. Suddenly I realised that I should stop feeling so awkward when someone says something kind, and just let them be kind. Surely, they wouldn’t say good things to me if I didn’t deserve it.
And there is nothing I hate doing more than throwing someone’s kindness back in their face, regardless of whether I know them or not.
Lesson learned. For now at least.