That sudden uneasy feeling and a loss for words. Nowhere to hide. What do I do? Wait. If I think waaaaaay back to my earliest memories, the answer is there! Accept the moment, even try to enjoy it and say “Thank you!”
I don’t know if this is a thing with men, as I can’t speak from experience and it’s never come up in conversation; but it seems to me that women do this often. Why is it that when someone pays us a compliment, our first reaction is to try to become self conscious and downplay what they are complimenting? Someone might say, “I like your sweater.” I’d respond, “Oh, it was really cheap, I got it on sale at ________ for 10 bucks.” Or when someone says, “Your hair looks nice.” “Oh, it’s because I just got it cut. I can’t make it look this way on my own.” Is it that society has always told me to step back and try to blend in? Girls are supposed to be meek, lest we be considered bossy. We are supposed to be modest, lest we be considered conceited. I’ve gotten much better with this as wisdom overrides irrational thinking. At the same time, society has also gotten better with what is considered norms for women, moving away from beliefs that women “aren’t made to…”, “can’t handle…”, “shouldn’t be in positions of…” and so many more. What a relief for me as a parent raising a daughter. The lesson that I first began to teach her at her Red Egg and Ginger Party; the same lesson I taught my sons, is not just for when you are little, but for your entire life. When someone pays you a sincere compliment; appreciate them for thinking kindly of you, accept the compliment with a smile, and say “Thank you.” To not do all of this takes away from the intention with which the compliment was given. After all, when you give a sincere compliment, isn’t your intention to make the other person feel good. I certainly hope you weren’t thinking, “What can I say to make this person feel as uncomfortable and self conscious as possible?” Just like how it made you light up as a tot, a compliment should make you feel happy and positive about yourself. If you want to elaborate on your “Thank you”, that is certainly up to you, but a simple heartfelt thanks goes a long way.