I just have to tell you that you are so pretty!
I heard the words, yet, at first, it didn’t register with me that they were being said to me and about me. I assumed that this compliment was being paid to my pretty, petite, nearly two decades younger than I am friend, who was doubling as my Pilates instructor. Then, more words derailed my train of thought.
I see you here every week, and you are just so pretty!
When I realized that these unexpected kind words were meant for me, I felt myself blush and go speechless. Internally, though, a counter argument was launched.
Oh my gosh! That’s so nice of you to say, but I haven’t even showered this morning. These workout clothes are old, and my cowlicks are out of control, hence the bandana. I am not in the shape I want to be in right now.
These were just some of the things I wanted to say in response to this compliment. Everything uttered in my inner dialogue was true, and I most certainly did not feel pretty, much less look the part. Yet, this stranger and fellow Pilates pupil thought so. She who was clothed in fashionable exercise gear, wearing a bit of make-up, with a head of beautiful curls thought I was pretty. Had I not had this woman right next to me, the inner critique would have gone on, but I had to compose some sort of response.
Oh my gosh! Thank you so much for saying that. That’s so sweet of you to say.
As I responded, I noticed that I continued to blush, and I also took note of something else. My response to her was not one of embarrassment and awkwardness. It was one of pure gratitude and joy. I was caught completely off-guard how the words of someone I did not know made me feel, and I continue to be surprised at how that brief interaction and that one compliment have forced me to rethink how I see myself.
I never have seen myself as the pretty girl. When I think of myself, there is an absence of any descriptors about my appearance, or should I say, there is an absence of any positive descriptors. I see myself in realistic terms, and while I have grown comfortable with my physical flaws, I know that I don’t meet the standard of beauty that our society uses as a measuring stick. So, I cultivated the non-physical attributes, such as humor and kindness, and I didn’t give much thought to trying to be pretty or anything other than acceptable and appropriate. Until now.
At the risk of sounding vain or shallow, I have to confess that her compliment felt good. Really good. It was definitely foreign territory for me, which led to the initial discomfort, but her words led me to begin to see myself differently. I am not sure what this woman thought was so pretty about me, but I don’t need to know. It is more important that I discover what I think is so pretty about myself, and that is exactly what I am doing.
I am learning to look past the imperfections and focus on what I do like, both inwardly and outwardly. I am giving my inner critic some much-needed time off and welcoming a kinder, gentler voice that compliments and encourages me, yet keeps it real. I may not be ready for my close up yet, but I am ready to be more open to how others see me and how I see myself.
That’s another story . . .
Categories: That's Another Story