I came across this question in a magazine, “What’s the best compliment you’ve been given?”. It made me think of what my linguistics professor once said; that women get complimented more than men although women are the ones more likely to dish them out. They’re meaningless, frivolous compliments such as, “I love your shoes!” with the other person responding, almost automatically, “Thank you, I love your bag!” even if said bag is hideous.
I always thought that compliments on outer beauty were less significant because we don’t choose the features that we have, whether it’s brown or blue eyes or straight or curly hair; we don’t have a say in the features we’re born with. Granted, being told that you’re beautiful gives a certain confidence, enabling one to catwalk down the shopping aisle instead of walk. But thinking beyond an ego boost, what would be the best, most meaningful compliment? I would like to think that it goes beyond my physical appearance because my looks are the least extraordinary thing about me.
I didn’t have to think long and hard about it because there’s one compliment that stands out like headlights in mist. I’ve always wanted to inspire others; for them to aspire to do the right thing regardless of popular opinion. It’s advice that I give my brother often because peer pressure and conformity permeates society these days. I’ve always been proud that I’ve never given in to peer pressure because I’ve grown to care more for what my conscious will do to me than what other people will say about me.
A few months ago a friend told me that I inspired her to pray when we were much younger. I never knew that I influenced her in that way especially because I don’t force my beliefs on anyone. I believe religion is a personal thing but I felt a flood of warmth when she told me. To be honest, I cried. To inspire someone to have more faith and a closer relationship with Allah [God] by doing nothing else other than being oneself is the greatest compliment I have ever gotten. A few days ago that same friend mentioned it to me again and it got me thinking about things such as compliments and inspiration and what impression we give other people. Couple that with a question in a magazine and you get this post.
We can’t all be everyone’s proverbial cup of tea because it’s impossible to please everyone without compromising who we are. I know there are many people who don’t like who I am. I’m opinionated, I laugh out loud, I don’t mind being the center of attention because I don’t crave it nor do I shy from it. If being who I am doesn’t please someone, that’s fine. But if being who I am inspires others, then great. The best compliment we can give ourselves is to respect and love ourselves enough to just be who we are. Because in the end that’s more than enough.