Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Go Ahead Take a Compliment

I found it amusing that someone sent me this link the other day...

And it's completely true, I suck at taking compliments.

This particular bit of the article rang especially true for me:

Years of feeling “not enough” can be powerful fuel for self-improvement, for drive, for success, and for power. “Not enough” actually can be massive fuel for our ambitions. If we take away that fuel, will we lose our drive, our direction, our ambition? If we can’t be a victim of “less than” anymore, what are we now exactly?

We have to create a new self-definition, a new way to look at ourselves. We have to find new fuel. 

That’s why compliments can be so scary.

Because "not enough" is the fuel that got me through school and pursuing writing in the first place.

Knowing my dyslexia is an obstacle I will continue to trip over for the entirety of my life... well, yeah, it's no wonder I don't talk about writing to almost anyone in real life and find it very difficult to show my writing to others.

I'm not sure if, in the back of my head, I'm visualizing writing like climbing a mountain and, at some sweet moment in the future, I'll no longer be fighting tooth-and-nail for every clearly written sentence. Certainly, I know it's a fallacy to believe that there is a certain hierarchy in skill where suddenly a writer is *good enough* to deserve being published, but at the same time, writing is a skill, so obviously there is a learning curve.

But at this point, with this mindset, I certainly don't believe I am worthy of the nice things people have said about my writing.

And I know that's wrong of me. I know blowing off/deflecting a compliment is like a slap in the face of the person giving it.

So I'm trying, actually, I have been trying, to uproot this noxious ingrained belief of "not enough", even though I am terrified that, without that horrible voice in my head whipping me forward with ego-deflating insults, I'll flail around and eventually drown in mediocrity and failure.

As a masochistic exercise to beat back this crippling insecurity, I joined a writing group. I started this blog. I posted pieces of first-draft writing. I joined writing competitions. I submitted queries to actual agents.

And maybe, because writing is such a subjective thing, what I'm really looking for is factual confirmation. Like a math equation where either you're right, or you're wrong, I want that binary, black-n-white assurance that my best is "enough". That my hard work is producing the correct results.

I'm not quite sure what that will look like though.

I do know that always looking for the bad will get you nowhere. You have to look for the good, be able to recognize it, to find your voice, what you do best as a writer, which you can only do if you start listening to the compliments, not just brushing them off and thinking, "not enough".

How are you are taking compliments, for your writing, or for anything else?

Are there certain situations where you find it easier to believe the words are true and not simply a kindness?

Do you have any kind of line-in-the-mud goals that, when you cross them, you will firmly believe that it's "enough"?

And do you have any idea on what your next source of fuel would be?


  1. I sure get notifications late. I have finally learned to just say "thank you" be it my hair, my writing or whatever. I recently wrote a drabble for a contest and another person who also entered said of mine "not half bad" Did he mean it was all bad?? Guess some have to learn to give compliments too. At any rate I was one of the winners and he was not *sticking tongue out at him*


Type me out a line of Shakespeare or a line of nonsense. Dumb-blonde-jokes & Irish jokes will make me laugh myself silly :)