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Way to Take a Compliment

The other day at church, the person sitting next to me complimented me on my singing during the service. I was like “what?” and literally turned and looked at the person sitting behind them to make sure he hadn’t heard them by mistake. They then told me that they had enjoyed hearing me singing during worship. I replied “Oh. Um thank you.” This completely confused me.

Why? Because in my entire being of existence, I cannot recall a time when anyone has complimented me on my singing. Sure I sang in chorus from Kindergarten through 5th grade but it’s not like they’re going to turn anyone away. While no one has ever said my singing was BAD, I just assumed that the lack of anyone talking about just meant I did not have a good singing voice. Thus someone complimenting me was a real shock.

Compliments are funny that way. The definition of a compliment is “a polite expression of praise or admiration.”

I never know how to act when I get a compliment. Yes the most natural thing to do is just accept it and reply “thank you”. But then something like this might happen.

I mean how the hell are you supposed to respond to that in real life? Gah.

It’s kind of hard for me to take a lot of compliments. Sometimes I feel like I don’t deserve the compliment. Sometimes I wonder if the person complimenting me made a mistake or even if they are making fun of me. Sadly that’s happened in the past when I thought someone was being serious and accepted the compliment only to find out they were joking.

Growing up in an Asian family, we didn’t receive that many compliments. No matter how well you did, you could always do better.

It’s not that my parents didn’t love me, far from it. It’s just compliments don’t come easily in a lot of Asian culture. And if they do, you’re supposed to play them off and downgrade yourself because you could always be better.

There’s also stuff I learned in church and how you can’t be too prideful. I mean, when I was growing up, we were told in Sunday School that it was a bad thing to make the focus go back on you and should try to play off getting all the glory because it should go to God instead. You should be all humble instead because you didn’t really do it, God did.

Some people I know have no problem accepting compliments. There are some that thrive on them to the point where they are begging people to give them compliments so they know they are doing ok in life. I need to find some happy medium.

This passage from an article in Relevant made me feel a bit better about all this

An artist and performer herself, she too had encountered the compliment conundrum, so-to-speak, and somewhere along the way someone had shared this with her: “Each time you receive a compliment, you accept it as a rose in honor of the Father, a rose that you in turn take and lay at His feet.” In all its simplicity, I was immediately struck with the surprising profundity of that image. It made so much sense, echoing the sentiments of those elders of Revelation who lay their crowns before the throne: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being” (Revelation 4:10, TNIV).
Read more at http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/relationship/features/2516-to-lay-down-a-rose

So to bring this back around full circle, I know you’re slightly curious to hear what I actually sound like. Believe me, I still don’t think I sound that good at all and I’m not trying to get you to tell me that I do. But for sh*ts and giggles, here’s a clip of me singing karaoke almost exactly 3 years ago with some friends. I’d like to point out that it was a good night, I have excellent friends, and that song had so much meaning at the time. Hah.

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Who are you to think you’re such an expert?

I was reading one of my favorite blogs the other day, Ask a Manager. This is an excellent blog if you ever need job advice, it basically has EVERYTHING covered. If you have never visited it, you really should. Even if you already have your dream job, there are tons of very useful career information on there. There’s also just a lot of good stories as well.

A recent post jumped out at me because it answered one of the things I worry most about and showed me that I wasn’t alone in thinking this. It was called “Impostor Syndrome: Do You Feel Like a Fraud?“. What is that you ask? A definition: “People who are, in fact, competent, feel as if they’re just waiting for the other shoe to drop, when someone realizes they are not up to this job/position/project and expose them as a fraud.”

I have felt this way my entire life. Every time I feel like I’m good at something, I seem to doubt myself. To this day, I still cannot believe I have two college degrees. How on earth did I graduate with a Master’s degree? It doesn’t matter that I remember slaving away in the library for two years doing tons of research so I could write very long papers. Nor does it matter that I know a good deal about archives and preservation from years of work and internships. Nope, all that matters is that someone will ask me a question about a part of history I am not familiar with and when I don’t know the answer, in their eyes I should not be what I claim to be.

It feels like you need to stop presenting yourself as an expert in something because clearly you aren’t as you don’t have all the answers. It’s ok for you to hang out in the background and pipe out every now and then as a fan but really if you’re advertising yourself as master in something, you have to know it all. Plus someone else is better than you anyways so why are you even bothering?

A lot of this is a confidence issue and how you view your self-worth, at least I know it is for me. Part of the advice is if you actually do know it but don’t feel confident, you need to learn to fake the confidence that you think you deserve and it will all be come real eventually. But that can be really hard for me sometimes. The worst actually is from other people who legit are actual experts (or even worse, FANS) and they get MAD when you’re getting the recognition and they didn’t.

The best advice is usually to just ignore all the other voices and just focus on what you’re doing. Liars will always be found out so you can’t get away with it forever. At the same time, if I feel like I actually know what I’m doing and I know that I actually worked hard to get it, then NO ONE should be able to take that away from me. You’re meant to be there, you earned it.