Why Not Being Able To Accept A Compliment Is Actually A Huge Character Flaw

Everyone has flaws. No one is immune from negative behavior or a quirky character trait.

Maybe someone smokes without regard for those around him or her. Maybe someone can’t pass a certain store without going in. Perhaps someone’s too often pessimistic. Perhaps someone’s awkward in front of new people.

Whoever you are, whatever you do, you’ve got a few flaws of your own. It’s OK, I do, too! Sometimes I’m a little too blunt. Other times, I’m bad about leaving my dishes out. But what I think is my weirdest flaw is that I have no idea how to handle a compliment.

I know what you’re thinking -- I think I do, at least. “Oh no, here comes a humble brag post.” I’m really trying to avoid that. To be honest, I think this flaw of mine gives the illusion that I’m actually a terrible person, or at least far more rude and inconsiderate than I mean to be. I also think there’s something everyone can learn from this little flaw of mine.

I was lucky enough to have grown up in a loving family, full of people who were always trying to provide more and more opportunities for me. They couldn’t do everything, of course, but they did play their cards right to open more than a few doors for me to succeed.

In fourth and fifth grade, my all-star soccer team won the YMCA state championships. In eighth grade, I became an Eagle Scout. I was always top of my class and was voted "most likely to succeed." I did well throughout college, possibly becoming the most annoying student to share a class with for how conversational I was with professors. I led several campus organizations and graduated at 20.

Like most college kids, I was rather arrogant. But I think marriage and being in the adult world for a couple of years now has helped alleviate most of that arrogance. Now I’m just awkward about it all. Anytime someone’s given me a compliment, I’ve had no idea how to respond.

Do I just smile and say “thank you”? Is it arrogant to acknowledge that I did something worth complimenting? Should I downplay whatever he or she is complimenting me for? Why is this so embarrassing?

You get the idea. Anytime I’ve gotten a compliment, whether for something I’ve done or just for the shoes I happen to be wearing that day, my brain goes into a tailspin. Usually, I end up putting my foot in my mouth.

Sometimes I come off as rude, like this person shouldn’t be saying anything to me. Or like anyone could have done what I did and the person complimenting me should be able to as well. Sometimes I’m arrogant and rush into a whirl of excitement to tell the story. And sometimes I simply blush, smile awkwardly and turn away.

As odd as this whole thing is, I think I know partially why I’m this way, and I think there’s also a good takeaway for anyone still reading this.

Part of the reason I struggle to handle compliments appropriately (What’s appropriate, anyway?) is because I’ve always been incredibly self-conscious. I’m sure many of you can relate to this. When someone compliments me, for whatever reason, I feel exposed, like I’m on a stage in front of thousands without any clothes. This person was paying attention to me? How can I go about this without being seen?

Other times, I believe, as a fight against my teenage arrogance, I brush off compliments like anyone could have done what I did. And the majority of the time, I genuinely believe that. I’m not that special of a person. There are a lot of people who are better than me, and there are even more who are on my same level.

Whenever I get decent or good at something, it’s because I’ve spent a ton of time and effort working on it, learning about it and practicing it until I fall asleep. One of the things I think is so beautiful about life is how one’s intelligence and abilities are malleable. You have just as much of a chance to shape yourself into something as awesome as I do! And you’d probably be better than me, too!

A lot of times, compliments make me feel awkward because I know others could do the same (if not better) if they really wanted to. You can choose to do anything you want and be incredible!

The question is: What are doing to get there?


This post was originally published on Kenneth's personal blog, Kennetic Expression.