There’s a saying in my family that always gets attributed to my nana: “Just say thank you and shut up.” The story goes that she used to say this to my dad, at which point he would turn to the person who gave the compliment and repeat the whole phrase: “Thank you and shut up.” I’ve always gotten a kick out of picturing my dad as a smart ass little kid, telling people who complimented him to shut up.
When I saw this story yesterday, I was reminded of my nana’s advice and of just how difficult it can be to gracefully and tactfully accept a compliment, especially as a woman. (The full uncensored version of the video is hilarious, but it has a lot of profanity and turns a little dark at the end, so head’s up.)
I have to admit, I’ve certainly done this. Taken the social implications of being confident and even pleased with who I am to mean that I shouldn’t let people compliment me without pointing out that I am, in fact, flawed. Seriously? What is that? Sometimes I wear a cute outfit! Sometimes my hair looks good! Sometimes I am funny! Why, then, is it so hard sometimes to just say “thank you” and shut up?
After reading through the rest of the Today story online, I noticed that the psychology professor pinpointed two factors: 1) that (as women) we’re told to “Believe in yourself, but never admit it out loud, lest you make another woman who doesn’t feel good about herself feel bad” and 2) that sometimes we do this as a way of trying to convince others that we’re “better at humility”.
Now, I have always wanted to be good at humility. Let’s be honest, I have always wanted to be good at everything. The older I get, though (and the more socially and culturally acceptable it becomes to be real about this kind of struggle), the more okay I feel with the idea that’s it’s acceptable and even desirable to love myself. That it’s a good thing for me to believe that I’m pretty and smart and occasionally capable of putting together an outfit on my own without having to text a bunch of selfies to my sisters to make sure I don’t look ridiculous. I want to be humble, but not at the expense of my self-worth. There can certainly be a thin line between confidence and arrogance, but just don't be a jerk. Can we all agree to just not be jerks?
Also, I think this lady (who is the mom of two girls) hit the nail on the head when she said: “I've realized that to be myself--confidently, proudly--is really such a great gift to give my girls.” I don’t think we do anybody any favors by shrinking back and silencing our celebrations of self in the name of not making other women feel worse about themselves. There are few things more inspiring than a confident woman who isn’t afraid to claim her beauty, strengths, and talents, and setting that kind of example for the young girls in our lives is SO important.
Lest you leave here thinking my nana is the only one who ever imparted the "Say thank you and shut up" wisdom, check out what Patty Griffin said about how to respond to a compliment:
"Just say, 'Why, thank you. What a nice thing to say.' And then move on from it."
So today, let's all take a lesson from Patty (and my nana) and say thank you like we mean it, then shut up and love ourselves.
The Love Yourself Linkup is an ongoing series that will focus on topics such as self image and body image. In our posts, we will talk about our thoughts on these subjects, tell stories of our personal experience, share what has inspired us, challenged us, and more. Shout out to Denver blogger Anne The Adventurer for getting this thing started!