It can’t just be me. In fact, I know it’s not just me.
I have had occasion recently to graciously accept several compliments, or falter with how to handle them. The latter is what I did. I made an attempt to do the former, but what I succeeded in doing was sharing the responsibility for what was being complimented.
I know it’s not just me having a hard time with that, because I have also had occasion to share compliments with several other people, and they didn’t respond at all. That didn’t bother me. I understand it completely.
Who? Me? Pfffff, nooo…
This is what you do when you grow up disallowed to think positively about yourself. I’m getting (slightly) better at a genuine “Thank you!” but wonder, horrified inside, if I appear too eager to accept responsibility – and gratitude, or a complement – for something I actually did. The inner conversation goes like this: “Does s/he think I’m bragging about myself for saying thanks? Was s/he just being nice? Am I supposed to deflect the compliment? I couldn’t really have achieved that. S/he’s mistaken. It’s egotistical to accept compliments for [whatever]. It makes me look like a showoff. Am I showing off?…” And on and on and on it goes.
This arises right now because I am trying to share a story. It’s a story about things that happened to me when I was young and as I’ve grown up. Then there are the stories that result from what I’ve been trying to share. They’re interesting. (I think, anyway – see above for the “bragging” issue…) They may help or inspire someone (again, see above re “bragging.”) It’s a way for me to go public with things I never have before, because I’m entering the next new chapter of my life, and this is going to be the crux of it, what I’m sharing in these stories. This is my blog. This is what it’s here for.
I am having the hardest time posting any of it.
If I wanted to, I could go on for the rest of the day justifying telling a set of simple stories, and explaining why I’m doing it so I don’t look like a pedantic egomaniac. I’ll be the first one to admit I can get pedantic. I wrote a column for a women’s magazine, after all. What’s all that for if not to talk and talk and let the editor handle the length? (I jest a little bit. I was anally, compulsively obsessive about length because I know I write too much.)
When you grow up hearing a chorus of “You Don’t Matter,” and then live with a partner who is supposed to be your most trusted friend and confidant as well as husband telling you and showing you in numerous ways that “You Don’t Matter” and your accomplishments are just a way for you to brag about yourself and they really mean nothing and aren’t that big a deal anyway – it gets a little difficult to share any of – well, much of anything, frankly.
I knew I was a “gifted writer” from the time I first put pen to paper.
Dear World: I never thought that made me better than anyone else. That was the only thing I ever heard I was good at, and trust me, World and everyone in it, I knew full well and heard all the time from the people I loved and many others that nothing else about me was important, significant or worthy of praise. So I get it.
I’m trying to strike a balance between that and sharing things about which I really don’t care anymore what people think.
The inner world of the writer. Sheesh, who left this gate open?