Awkward Kindness Is Nice, Too

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She stood there, decked out from head to toe. The single girl’s guide to life was surely hidden within that adorable anthropologie bag slung over her shoulder. She was the picaresque, charming, Pinterest worthy, fashionista.

Perhaps it was the awkward setting. We were, after all, standing side by side in the front row of a rock show. Not really the place to exchange pleasantries, I get it. But nothing deters me. My husband is always lamenting my love for elevator conversations. He says its not the proper place for things like talking or making eye contact.

“Excuse me,” I tapped her on her shoulder. Like a frightened hamster she turned, head slightly ducked beneath her french braid.

“I just have to tell you that you look like you stepped off a board on Pinterest!”

Her worried look told me that my  compliment was lost on her.

“You do know what Pinterest is–” I needed to know why she looked about to jump out of her skin.

“Yah, I know what it is,” she responded.

“Oh good! You look beautiful.Didn’t mean to be awkward–just wanted to tell you.”

Slowly, the furrowed brows split apart in surprise. And then a big smile lit her face. She truly was beautiful.

“I’m not hitting on you,” I quickly blurted out.

She burst into laughter.

“Oh my gosh! I thought you were telling me I couldn’t stand here, and then when you said that thing about Pinterest I thought you were saying I look ridiculous!”

Now my brows were pinching together. “So you just assumed I was being a jerk and thought that about you? That’s terrible!”

Still smiling, “Yah! No one’s ever said something like that to me! You really think I look pretty?? Thank you so much–you made my day!”

She left the venue feeling pretty good about herself. I left feeling a tad depressed.

We women are just so weird.

We’re either a full-of-herself bitch, or a mealy-mouthed scaredy-cat. And I had met yet another scaredy-cat.

I actually don’t know very many in the bitch category. I mean, there’s the steady stream of self-portraits on Instagram and Facebook that make me think some people might have a tinge more confidence than is necessary, but like Kim Kardashian confident? Nah, really don’t know that sort.

But more often than not, I’m met with the woman who doesn’t believe she is beautiful. She apologizes all over herself. She treats a compliment as she would a foreign body. A bee to be swatted away before the sting finds it’s spot.

No, we’re not talking about full-of-herself woman anymore. We’re talking about people like you. Like me.

Most days I wonder if I’m doing anything right. Heck, I can’t even keep a spool of TP from getting strewn all over the house. I can’t get anything done without Barney and his host of overachieving choir kids. And I certainly don’t sail through my day feeling like a fairy princess. Well, maybe a little like Cinderella, but only before the Fairy Godmother. And without the slender feet.

Simply put, I need someone to tell me I look pretty. I need someone to say I’m doing a great job, even though I can’t keep the toilet paper together. This pretty Pinterest girl reminded me that tired moms aren’t the only ones who need to feel affirmed. It took very little for me to “make her day.” Just one awkward moment, that’s all. For those of you with a hair more finesse, you could probably pull off a compliment without any awkwardness! Think on it.

Go ahead. Make someone’s day (said in Sid’s voice [Toy Story])

 

35 thoughts on “Awkward Kindness Is Nice, Too

  1. Rachel J.

    Love this! Maybe we all wouldn’t be so skeptical of each other if only it were more ‘normal’ to speak to each other with love and kindness. I’ve wanted to say similar things to people but didn’t because I feared the awkwardness!

    Reply
    1. hillary

      I know. Usually people are just quiet around strangers and sometimes the silence is mistaken for snobbery. Sometimes I end up embarrassing myself (ok, a lot of times) but usually people respond positively to the all-around encouragement/friendliness. It’s just better to be friendly.

      Reply
  2. Shell

    I do think most of us have more insecurity than we should. And a compliment can mean so much!

    Reply
    1. hillary

      Unfortunately the insecurity abounds today. Wish it could be otherwise, but I guess the only defense is kindness. And a lot of it!

      Reply
  3. Tom

    I am always getting criticized for myself doing my thing on the Internet and it is really no ones business but the ones who are mosey happens to be ones I like but 8 out of 10 like what I have to say or do or they want in so I am just going to do like I always do. It tells me that I won’t be their type up front so itsaves me the trouble of wasting my time on their sites. I really like it here, you are real and I like that.

    Reply
  4. Simplicity Interrupted

    what is sad is that she has probably received more negatives comments from women than anything else, especially when she looks great … it’s a shame that a lot of women lean towards putting each other down than lifting each other up. this is a great piece – thank you for sharing!

    Reply
    1. hillary

      I know! The negative comments are never forgotten. All the careless, mean things I heard as a child and teen have stuck with me. Thanks for coming by!

      Reply
  5. Nicole

    Yes! I love this. If anyone has ever given me a compliment like this, I remember it forever, so I try to remember to do the same.

    Reply
    1. hillary

      I know. It’s those random compliments that really stick, huh?

      Reply
  6. Deanna

    I think most of us women feel that way. I know I do. Compliments make me uncomfortable sometimes but it really IS nice to hear them once in awhile. .. Even though that lady was a little confused at first, I bet you made her day!

    Reply
    1. hillary

      I think compliments can be weird because we’re just so used to being on the defense all the time we don’t know what to do with kind words.

      Reply
  7. villagegirl

    You are so right! I love this post. I have been given 4 random compliments in the last couple weeks (as opposed to usually none) and it has totally blown me away! I’ve tucked them away in my head for days when I’m not feeling so sure about myself. We women do need to take more time to tell each other – even perfect strangers – that we are beautiful. We are all way too hard on ourselves! I’m a prime example.

    Anyhow, I love reading your blog. You have a fantastic sense of humour, gorgeous kids and you are beautiful!

    Reply
    1. hillary

      Aww thank you so much for YOUR sweet compliments! Those random compliments really do have the power to change an entire day for the better, so we shouldn’t be sparing with them!

      Reply
  8. Kate

    I’m the same way, I’m always talking to people. I would have done the same thing, if I thought she was pretty, I would have told her. My siblings tell me it’s awkward, but it never deters me!

    Reply
    1. hillary

      Those kind words go so far! That’s a wonderful compliment to hear ????

      Reply
  9. Emily rimestad

    I was standing n line by an older woman the other day, probably in her 70’s, and she was straight up gorgeous! I wanted to tell her so bad but it was a long line and I had a feeling it would be a long awkward ten minutes after I gave my compliment plus all the other people in line would probably feel bad bc I didn’t compliment them. See my dilemma lol. I just need to be a little more brave and awkward bc it probably would of “made her day” too!

    Reply
    1. hillary

      Hahahah! I can see you standing there agonizing and imagining what you could say to each individual person in line. “And you are a very nice person too! And you have great teeth! And…you….are special..” bahahaha!

      Reply
  10. Mariah

    LOVE this. If only we passed around more random, honest compliments than indifferent or judgmental glances…

    Reply
    1. hillary

      Yep. You never know how much you can impact someone’s day with a kind word.

      Reply
  11. Negative body image in young girls

    […] now after such a bummer, you can go read about nice words here!!   Leave a […]

    Reply
  12. Margo Hayes

    So I just have to say – as impacting as compliments can be, receiving a critical remark about your appearance can be devastating for a long time. It’s kind of weird how I can remember the critical remarks so well. One remark made years ago about my crooked teeth stayed with me and I would deliberately not show my teeth in pictures. It was also a big motivation when I got braces a few years back (in my 50’s) and now I smile with all teeth showing:)

    Reply
  13. colleen

    This is so nice to read! I am one of those who is generous and perhaps a touch awkward with compliments but I never regret trying!:)

    Reply
    1. hillary

      Always worth a try, right? Nine times out of ten you’ll make someone’s day ????

      Reply
  14. Sue - The Spin Cycle

    Hear, hear! So very true, but not so very often put into practice. A great reminder…thanks. ????

    Reply
    1. hillary

      Be careful trying this in France, Sue. Might not get quite the same reaction that I received.

      Reply
  15. [email protected] Mom

    A little compliment can totally make my day – I usually think about it for a long time afterwards. I think we could all use more compliments and kind words – great reminder!

    Reply
    1. hillary

      Yes! Those compliments go far in my book. And when it comes from a stranger? Well, for whatever reason it almost feels more validating. Weird? Yes.

      Reply
  16. [email protected]

    You are pretty. You ARE pinterest worthy. Women can be so weird about getting compliments. There was a friend of a friend who I thought was so pretty. And every time I saw her, she would go lighter with her hair and I would compliment it because, well, I just love talking about hair. Well I saw her and said, “oh my god, you went lighter – I love it!” and she went off on me. She thought I had been making fun of her every time and then she went on to call me a bunch of names (I remember being called a “black haired witch”) as I stood there stupefied. She WAS drunk, but still. I will never forget that.

    Reply
    1. hillary

      That is so sad! How frustrating for you. You were just trying to be nice. Obviously she had a major complex about her hair (probably why she kept dying it). But why did she have to cut so low?

      Reply
  17. ilene

    Women are so strange – aren’t they? I have offered many compliments that have gotten lost in translation like yours did – but in the end, you had a nice rebound. A kind work can go a long way, like you said – and we all need them.

    Reply
    1. hillary

      Yes, fortunately it worked out with minimal awkwardness. Except for the part where I told her I wasn’t a lesbian. Not my best moment.

      Reply
  18. Your friend

    For what it’s worth, I think you’re so pretty it makes me a little sick with envy.

    Reply

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