I live with five strong, empathetic, powerful, hilarious, ladies.
Do you notice anything about this sentence? Don’t worry about it, keep reading.
Today I want us to talk about the door to my apartment.
The door to my apartment is beige and rectangle and boring, oh so boring. But, the door to my apartment building is also strong, and reliable, and has this amazing ability to open up to me.
Now, one of those sentences describes the physical attributes to my apartment door, and another described its characteristics. Think about that. Let’s continue.
When my apartment door opens, it’s an oyster revealing its pearl. You are greeted with streamers that glitter along the lounge walls, a creative masterpiece of kiwi-queen Lorde (see it here), a wall that is entirely engulfed with posters of dogs, and a huge “Love Island” banner that was fashioned by blending red and white paint with a whole lot of flat-mate love.
So, if you were going to make a judgement about my beige, and rectangle and oh so boring apartment door, then I suggest you open it up, and check out what’s going on inside first.
SHIT YOU SHOULD CARE ABOUT… THE ART OF COMPLIMENTS.
Since you’re sick of hearing about my apartment door, let’s cut to something most of us are familiar with… “like for a like” statuses.
Back in Facebook’s glory days, my newsfeed was grossly contaminated with the “like for a like” plague, and if you were like me – a vulnerable year nine, desperately seeking gratification from anywhere you could find it – then you couldn’t hit the like button quick enough. After waiting with bated breath for said Facebook User to find you amongst the myriad of likes (because everyone else was itching for gratification too), relief was granted only when that little red notification button popped up. And it was always the same result. But, somehow, I never tired of seeing the constant combination of “i lyk how u always make me laugh XD,” “I lyk how ur pretty and nice” or “i lyk how ur hair is kwl,” wallpapering my Facebook wall.
As I was merely at the first toilet stop on the road-trip that is puberty, I was pretty quick to alter my mood according to the compliments I was getting, and I would find myself scrolling through other people’s pages to see what other people liked about them. Sure enough, their posts were also saturated with lines about how pretty they were, or how they had nice *insert feature here.* But not everyone got the “i lyk how ur so crack up lol,” or the “i lyk how u make me laugh in form time,” posts. It dawned on me that those messages were specific to me and my being – not just on what I looked like, and I learnt to appreciate those compliments so much more.
“Like for a like” statuses no longer exist in my semi-adult world, but superficial compliments certainly do. As I’ve grown up, I’ve realised that I would much rather be told that my mind was beautiful than my hair, and that these compliments are the most important.
“LIKE FOR A LIKE” STATUSES NO LONGER EXIST IN MY SEMI-ADULT WORLD, BUT SUPERFICIAL COMPLIMENTS CERTAINLY DO.
Giving a meaningful compliment is an art. And to try and explain it I have one simple rule: Focus on personalities rather than physicality’s.
To explain this, I’m going to bring it back to the lovely ladies I live with. Every single one of them is gorgeous – ask anybody. That is a fact. Actually, everyone I’m friends with is gorgeous. But that isn’t why I’m friends with them. We can be hanging out after a night on the town, looking and feeling like pure shit, and they are still the most gorgeous people on the earth to me (and it’s certainly not because of how they look.) Between us all is the perfect combination of humour, seriousness, nostalgia, gratitude, stupidity, and so much more, and it’s my job to remind them of that.
In a world where we are constantly faced with picture-perfect humans wherever we look (instagram, magazines, movies), being told that you are beautiful can stray from being just a compliment, and become pressure – something to constantly live up to. And that, my friends, is doing the total opposite of what a compliment should do. So, instead of complimenting someone the way they look on one specific day, compliment them on what they offer to the world every day.
I’m not saying that if one of your friends is looking particularly snatched one day, that you shouldn’t tell them so – scream that shit out! But don’t forget to mention that you also seriously value the meme they tagged you in earlier, or that they have impeccable taste. Or tell them that you love how they carry themselves. Or that you love the way they think. Even tell them that you love how they’ve raised their pet/child/plants.
So, I challenge you, even if just for today, to compliment someone on something other than how they look. Maybe even write them a “like for a like” (2018 style.)
Now, read the first sentence again and tell me if you notice anything.