i can’t recall when the idea of being seen as someone who makes you feel safe + understood transcended the idea of being seen as a ‘desirable’ person.
to put it bluntly, i can’t recall when i stopped in my haste, analysed myself for a second, and realised that the compliments i crave the hardest are those about my inner self.
you know, those compliments that make you feel like an actual, profound human being for a minute. compliments that honour your brain, your work effort, your passion. your sensitivity, empathy, humility and thoughtfulness. your ability to make other people feel a little less alone, and a little more understood. your resilience and courage and vulnerability.
compliments that rain sunshine on your soul.
i can’t recall when the idea of receiving a compliment of this magnitude eclipsed receiving one about the physical way i show up in this world.
but i can recall what shifted this craving; men.
of course, when they would say all the stereotypical ‘right’ compliments, my stomach would tingle, my cheeks would flush, and i’d feel ontop of the world – briefly.
it’s funny, how one simple word – or a few strung together – can have such a quick, heavy effect:
beautiful…gorgeous…a bloody tease…your skin is so soft…stunning…your lips are that tempting.
but then, i’d come crashing down.
because every girl is beautiful, every girl will receive those compliments.
and that’s not to take away from the fact that these compliments probably do ring true – he most likely means what he’s saying and isn’t intending for any harm at all. in fact, he’s probably trying to lift you up. to make you see yourself through the golden light that he does.
i’m just saying that – for me – those compliments make me feel like shit, now, as i’ve hit my twenties.
maybe it’s cause they render me into an ornament, suffocating my voice as i feel he’d rather not hear my mind.
maybe it’s cause they play on my insecurities about the way i look – i may feel beautiful in the split second he tells me so, but definitely not after. not after i take my make-up off, or wake up to a new pimple, or bloat for 3 days straight on my period.
maybe it’s cause i don’t see myself in that golden filtered light – so i reject any compliment that wafts through.
maybe it’s cause they don’t make me feel like a fully fleshed-out, wholesome human – with opinions and ears and emotions.
maybe it’s cause i know he’ll say it to the next girl. so really, where is the authenticity?
maybe it’s cause i fear the day he’ll trade me in for a newer, younger model – a beautiful girl – due to society’s damaged perception that woman age like bananas while men age like fine wine.
maybe it’s cause they block any chance at a deeper conversation.
if i’m honest, it’s a mix of all the above. i detest those compliments because – in a hypocritical way – they gnaw at the very physical insecurities he’s adoring. but i also detest the way those compliments render any sense of actual connection.
and, therefore, hinder any chance of me becoming vulnerable with someone – which is the embodiment of love to an extent.
my ex once said something off-handedly to me, i don’t think he meant it as a compliment – more of a reason why he had stuck around. yet it filled me with that utter glow, knowing that someone saw the inner me, and liked her.
‘i like the way you light up and smile and squeeze my hand when you see something you love. like a dog or sunset or some rare flower. your excitement is contagious,’ he’d said.
it still makes me beam, and i guess that’s why i fell in love – i’d felt seen.
i don’t want to sound like i’m picking apart men. of course, these compliments are probably genuine, and come from the heart. i’m just saying that grounded, humbled comments on a woman’s ability to listen, to make you feel safe and understood – or even the way our souls light up when we spot something we love – it’s those compliments that make me feel needed.
and, to me, feeling needed, valued, and appreciated for what i bring to this world, has finally transcended my desire to feel desirable.
with a honey-soaked heart,