Learning to take a compliment…

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Happy International Women’s Day to all my fabulous ladies!!!!!

Now. Can someone explain to me why some of us fabulous women still can’t take a compliment?

For as long as I can remember I have literally been mentally, physically and emotionally unable to take a compliment.  This didn’t always bother me and I always just brushed it off as low self-esteem and insecurity. *You’re probably thinking, this girl is totally not insecure and does not suffer from low self-esteem, she posts ten selfies a week.* Let me clarify- I post selfies because I feel it would be an injustice to society to look damn good without ensuring that everyone can see and appreciate it. No, but seriously, I’ve literally had this exact conversation with many of my friends . We don’t take compliments, we brush them off in a feeble attempt to seem modest but instead we belittle ourselves and our achievements.

I think I need to explain a little more in detail what this inability to take a compliment really is. Just this week someone at work told me my eye lashes look fabulous, instead of taking a compliment, saying thank you and smiling I said “Yea, it’s because I’m Egyptian.” What?! Does that sound modest? No. It sounds stupid. The reason my eye lashes look fabulous is because God made me this way and also because I use two different mascaras, one to lengthen and one to add volume, it’s an art really. I spend a good minute plumping those bad boys up, I should take pride in that! I should say thank you and let the compliment be what it is, a compliment. Why didn’t I just say thank you? Why did I feel the need to say it’s because I’m Egyptian? It’s not because I’m Egyptian, it’s because I’m fabulous annndddd because: “I woke up like dis” (more on Beyonce later).

If that example wasn’t enough here’s a whole list of compliments I shut down and dodged like the plague because I’m too mentally, physically and emotionally unavailable for compliments:

  • Compliment: Damn girl, your arms are jacked
  • Response: Ew, no they’re fat
  • Normal Response: Thank you, I work out a lot, I can offer some workout tips if you’d like!
  • Compliment: Wow, you look great, did you lose weight?
  • Response: What? No. I’m so fat. Ew.
  • Normal Response: Actually- I lost fat, I changed my diet about a year ago and I work out…
  • Compliment: You have great eyebrows.
  • Response: Yea, I know. I get that a lot. I have a great eyebrow lady.
  • Normal Response: Just say thank you?
  • Compliment: Wow, that’s really smart.
  • Response: Are you kidding?
  • Normal Response: Seriously? Just say THANK YOU.
  • Compliment: I was just telling my sister, you looked gorgeous last night!
  • Response: Are you serious? I looked gross.
  • Normal Response: Thank you would have probably been the normal human response.
  • Compliment: (from my kickboxing instructor) You looked great out there tonight!
  • Response: What? No way. I suck.
  • Normal Response: Wow, thank you, that’s a great compliment coming from you, I’ve been coming 3-5 times a week for months!

In hindsight it would not have been that difficult to take the compliment, actually, I am convinced that because I don’t take the compliments for what they are and instead put myself down I convince myself that I am not these things. How pathetic, right? How many of you do that too?

On a more serious note… Recently I’ve felt my inability to take a compliment flooding into my professional life. That’s when I felt I had to stop, reevaluate my life… annnnd write a blog post about it. Oh, I also resolved to be more confident and take the compliments for what they are. The other day I was with my director in his office. As I mentioned before- I recently got a new role at work and I’ve been in a rotten, miserable mood because I keep psyching myself out and thinking that I know nothing about anything and will end up under-performing. Just being myself really. Because of this I’ve spent countless hours the past two months drilling information into my mind in the hopes of learning everything about everything. Just being an entitled Millennial ya know? Uhm no, working my behind off to prove to myself I am not a failure. (This will make sense two paragraphs later, wait for it.) Anyhow, my director and I were discussing some ideas and best practices and I said something that made him respond with: “Oh wow, you really know your stuff, huh?” My response? *blank stare & 10 seconds of silence followed by:* “Are you being sarcastic?” He literally looked at me like I was a lunatic. Not only did I completely discredit what I had said but I belittled myself and my intelligence. Not cool.

I also have a tendency to do this in school. I’m in grad school working on a Masters in Project Management. The reason I even decided to go back to school immediately after undergrad was because I felt like I didn’t learn enough since I didn’t take any business classes. Yea. I basically discredited my entire undergraduate career and my degree. Sorry Rutgers. This semester I have a professor that I really admire. I admire her so much that I always think I am giving the wrong answer. It could also have to do with the fact that she’s extremely stoic and I have no idea if she thinks what I am saying is completely ridiculous but after EVERY response or statement I make in her class I say “I think” or: “I don’t know.” For example, I will bring up an alternative theory to a point she made in class, it will be completely valid and she will say I brought up a great point but I will have already discredited myself anyway and said that I “think” and that I “don’t know”… When in reality, I do know, because I’ve studied the material and I have a valid point. Why do I do this? How many of you do the same??

I feel our generation, the “Millennials”, are constantly coined as narcissistic and entitled. I beg to differ. I have had numerous conversations with prominent, successful women, some in HR, who point out that people, especially women, have a hard time recognizing their own achievements. They play down their success and belittle themselves, whether in the presence of males or other women it doesn’t matter. What matters is this mindset needs to change. We need to be way more confident in ourselves, we need to celebrate our achievements and celebrate one another. I recently downloaded the entire Beyonce album (legally, because I support ma girl ‘Yonce) and there is a verse in Flawless spoken by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie that I think everyone, especially females, need to read, and I will leave you with these words:

We teach girls to shrink themselves. To make themselves smaller
We say to girls: “You can have ambition. But not too much
You should aim to be successful. But not too successful. Otherwise you will threaten the man”
Because I am female- I am expected to aspire to marriage
I am expected to make my life choices. Always keeping in mind that: Marriage is the most important. Now marriage can be a source of- Joy and love and mutual support
But why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage. And we don’t teach boys the same?
We raise girls to treat each other as competitors. Not for jobs or for accomplishments
Which I think can be a good thing. But for the attention of men
We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are.
Feminist: the person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.

So, are you a feminist? *Hint men can also be feminists.

Here's a pick of me after kickboxing class...

As usual. Here’s a pic… This is me after kickboxing class…

Don’t forget to share the humor, take the silly poll, comment and like!

Xx H

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