Ever complimented a woman on the lovely summer dress she’s wearing to brunch and in response, she shrugged and said, “Oh this old thing. It’s been lying in my closet for the last five years”.
Throws you back a little, doesn’t it. You wonder, why women do that. Why are they incapable of taking a compliment? Why is it so difficult to handle some praise? Is it me? Did I say something odd? Is she pmsing? Phew!
Woman can be so confusing. On one hand they go out of their way to get your attention and on the other, they’ll just brush you off when you give them some. That is very irrational behavior, but there are several reasons that cause it.
I get super flustered when someone compliments me. I go red in my face, my head starts buzzing and I’m never sure what to say in return. From this point on, there are two ways to go about this:
1) You can either thank the person graciously and move on.
2) Or you can make a sarcastic remark about whatever it is he complimented you over.
I always choose the second. I’m not entirely sure why. But I always do. It’s not that I don’t like to hear good things about myself, neither is it about the person. It’s more about the massive confusion in my head. There are contradictory voices in my head directing me to be modest, use sarcasm, do something absolutely non-sensical and completely ignore the compliment.
The fact, however bad it sounds is that i’m not use to receiving praise. I am not conditioned to take good things said about me well, because I didn’t hear them growing up, or in school, or in college. All I ever heard was, I could do better. And I never realized that in this endeavor to do better, I’d reached a level of excellence. In whatever that I was doing.
As a school going kid, my teachers were always unappreciative of everything I did. Which five year old is worried about being perfect. They just want to run around, play in the mud and go to sleep.
In the second grade, I failed a dictation test not because I spelled the words wrong (I got all the spellings right), but because I used a capital letter at the beginning of every word. Instead of talking to me, my second grade teacher failed me in the test. To teach me a lesson. To teach a seven years old a lesson. Needless to say, I never did well on my dictation test then on.
And it doesn’t end there, in India, no doubt the extremely authoritarian schooling and family culture makes you stronger and try harder. But what they don’t notice is that in the long run, these teachers and some families are just burdening children with their own insecurities. Shooting their self-esteem down, taking pleasure in shaming them and ridiculing them.
In the years that follow, the whole system sort of conspires against you.. extended family, peers, other influencers, younger siblings who are ‘doing’ well, neighbors, absolutely random people who don’t give a damn about you.. they are all responsible for the fact that I cannot take a compliment well.
Most women have set their standards so high, that they kill themselves everyday to reach their goals. And everyday they inch a little closer, only to go back to bed feeling dejected that they haven’t reached it yet. In this struggle to get somewhere, shrugging off a compliment is just an attempt to help them keep going. An effort to keep themselves grounded and try harder next day. She loves the compliments. But she can’t afford to let herself believe them.