My daughter is enrolled in gymnastics class on Fridays. And for the past couple of weeks, I had noticed another Mom there whose style I absolutely LOVED. Super simple. Not overdone. But always looks put together and confident.
After class last Friday… I was on my way out the door with my daughter with her coat half on, my 21-month old son’s patience gone, and my 37-weeks pregnant self dressed in what I’m pretty sure I woke up in that day. And I passed “stylish Mom” in the hallway, and decided that I was going to put my “Moms supporting Moms” effort into effect and give her the compliment she deserved.
So I say, “I love your outfit. You really have great style.” She looked at me with this, “Wow that’s really nice of you to say” look. But before she could even say thank you, I kept my comment going and said, “I wish I could dress like that. I can’t wait to get back into my normal jeans.”
And with that… my compliment was completely ruined.
Stomped on with force.
Killed before it could even take a breath.
Because instead of simply being able to say “thank you” – that poor girl was forced to find something to say to reassure me about how I looked. Instead of being able to enjoy hearing something positive about herself that day from a perfect stranger, she had to feel bad for bringing to light my own body insecurities. Because I made that moment about me instead of about her.
And as women, we do this a lot, don’t we? This whole idea of giving a compliment and then using that compliment to turn it back on us…
We have a friend who works really hard to lose weight, and instead of telling her we’re happy for her and congratulating her on her hard work … we add on something like “Can you lose a few pounds for me now?”
We see a friend make a post on Facebook about getting to go on a vacation, and instead of saying “Have an amazing time! You deserve it” … we’ll say something like “I’m jealous.”
Or we show up to a party and our friend is in an amazing dress when we chose to wear jeans … and instead of just saying “You look fabulous” … we tack on a “Now I look like a slob compared to you.”
What I said that day to my fellow gymnastics Mom is another example just like these ones. It was not a “mom supporting another mom” act like I had intended it to be. It was a comment that I turned back on me… and what I chose to add on to that “compliment” was a result ME not being confident enough in my own skin. It was ME looking for reassurance from someone else because I haven’t been kind enough to myself to get it from within. It was ME taking away an opportunity for someone else to feel good about themselves because I don’t feel the same about myself right now.
And how unfair is that to her?
It was a wake-up call to me that I need to find confidence and reassurance in my own self, and not force another person to find it for me … or to feel bad that they’ve found that in themselves already. Because this life is not a competition between each other as much as we make it out to be. Instead, its time we start making the competition be WITHIN ourselves to find our own happiness … so that we can be genuine and authentic when we share our happiness for others.