She was shy and reserved, and clearly did not necessarily want to there helping adults move. Her dark skin was perfect. She glowed with health. Her long, long, glistening black hair was in three braids. She was lovely. A very young teenager with wholesome cheeks, but not a smile to cross them. When I spoke at the Indian summer program last week she was there. No smile, just lost within her own world of shyness. My daughter was like that. I understood. But here we met again to help our mutual friend and still no smile.
I casually said, “You know you are the most beautiful young woman I have ever seen.” And she was. A veritable Native princess. Beautiful in her own way and a testament of time and grace. I could see her in a tribe a hundred plus years ago as I could with her tennis shoes today. She may not have matched the exact modern standards of models but she was prettier than many of them.
“You probably hear that all the time.” A blush rose up slightly and a smile transformed that beautiful face. She shook her head no and lowered her eyes, still smiling.
Why do we keep compliments to ourselves? We may compliment our friends or family but clearly rarely strangers. Perhaps we feel strange about it or think they will find us daft or odd for just out of the blue telling someone they are beautiful or that we love their hair or clothes or spirit. It is just amazing what happens if you let yourself go crazy with the compliments.
First of all, you will feel lighter. Truly, if you feel defeated, devastated, angry, hopeless, frazzled, or heck, even happy, once you utter that compliment, especially to someone you don’t think receives random words all the time, you will feel better. That you caused a smile, a surprised thank you, or a even a slight blush is a gift you just gave to a fellow human making their journey in this world. We all need encouragement.
Then you spread the cycle of joy which we need more of out there. From the awkward teenager to the beauty queen walking down the street (yes, you should compliment beauty queens too, they are just women, we all need compliments) to the older man pushing a walker to the librarian quietly shelving books. Open your heart and say as many compliments you can each day. We all know that we ourselves would love to hear more nice things, let’s get to spreading the love.