It is a good thing I'm not the jealous type. :o)
Recently, a new girl started working for the company my husband works for. We'll call her Ginger. While Doc has never seen Ginger, based on her correspondence to him I would guess that she is quite young - probably in her early 20s. He often receives emails from her and loves to share them with me. She is always bubbly, friendly, and often complimentary. In fact, he recently received an email from her that said, "You are a very special and awesome guy. I really mean it!" To be fair, I can't remember the exact wording, but that is pretty much the gist of it.
When he gets emails like this, he reads them to me with a big smile on his face. "See, at least someone appreciates me" is a response I've heard more than once. You know what? He's right. I don't always appreciate him as much as I should. However, even when I do, I suspect he doesn't hear it. I'm really no different. He tells me I'm beautiful, but I feel plain. He tells me I'm skinny, but I feel fat. He tells me that I'm a good mom, but I feel guilty for something (yelling at the kids, not being better at playing pretend, or any of a plethora of other faults). He tells me I'm smart, but I wonder how I used to function in a real job when I can't even figure out what it is I need to get from the store to make dinner.
Why is it easier to hear and accept the compliments of strangers? Why is it that we hear the criticisms clearly and shrug off the praises of those that we love (and love us)? Why do I think that Doc has an ulterior motive when he compliments me? Why do I assume he "has to say that" when he tells me I'm beautiful? What has happened to my confidence? How do I make sure that my girls don't lose theirs as they grow up? Right now they know that they are funny, smart, beautiful, kind, thoughtful, hard working, etc. We tell them when they demonstrate those characteristics. They hear us and they believe us. What causes that to change?
In all sincerity, I don't begrudge Doc his compliments. He is a "special and awesome guy". If it takes hearing it from someone else to sink in just a bit and give him an ego boost, then so be it. Here's my message to Ginger (and all others like her):
Thank you. Thank you for your positive attitude and pleasant personality. It is rare to encounter someone with such a sunny disposition. Please continue to give well deserved compliments, whether for someone you know well or barely know at all. We all need to hear that we're doing something right on occasion. If you can make work more bearable or a day a little brighter for one person, then you have done something amazing. Here's hoping that all those people that you have made smile will pay it forward to create a world that is brighter, happier, and better for us and all our children.