I'm horrible at accepting compliments. I still remember a painful conversation from college that was only painful because I made it so. I had been financial director for an organization that had done exceedingly well under my leadership (if I do toot my own horn). A fellow exec member said just as much to me, and I replied, "Thanks. I don't do that much. I just..." Crap, I should stop talking, but I had already begun the sentence; I needed to finish it. "It's just going to the bank and doing numbers. And - " Crap again, I had started a new sentence; I needed to finish this one, too. "And I feel awkward. I should stop talking."
My friend looked at me. "You could have just said thank you."
I could have, I thought. But I didn't.
More recently, I was running a meeting, and we were supposed to identify ourselves. "I'm Cazey, and I'm the chair of this committee - though I don't do that much. We're all just members here."
"Man, don't downplay yourself like that," a member spoke up. "You're the chair."
"I just send emails and make the agenda," I demurred.
"That's more than the rest of us."
He was right. And I thought back to that conversation in college: I should have just said, "I'm Cazey, and I'm the chair of the committee."
And he was even more right that I should stop downplaying myself. Don't worry, this isn't an essay on my warped psyche. This is more like an addendum to the other post I wrote about how I should stop talking - which should basically be my tag line.
At Christmas my parents bought me a rather attractive wristwatch that I found online. In actuality, I bought it, and my parents paid me back, and then I didn't wear it until Christmas Day. That's how gifts work in my family.
Anyway, the watch came from London, so I should actually call it a timepiece like the website does. The watch is very attractive and futuristic in the most stylish of senses. My wrist quickly drew the attention of multiple acquaintances and passersby.
"That is an attractive watch," salespeople would tell me. No one ever asked me where I got it or how much it cost, but my default reply was, "Thanks! It's not as expensive as it looks." Aka I'm not as privileged as my wrist makes me appear.
My friend finally called me out one day when I said the same thing to our other friend who complimented my timepiece. "Why would you say that?" she asked.
"Um," I pondered. "I don't want people to think I'm wearing, like, a Rolex. Or that they should rob me."
This conversation happened to occur on the rooftop of Quirk Hotel.
"Do you think someone here is going to rob you?" my friend asked.
I pursed my lips. "No." And then I added, "It only cost $70."
I am obviously uncomfortable being known as someone who wears expensive wrist wear. Similarly, when people comment on my class ring, I tell them I got it for free and would never buy one otherwise. And if people ask if my boots are Frye, I emphasize it was a graduation present to myself. As if that negates I did drop over $200 for some boots: "But don't hold it against me."
Recognizing the problem is the first step toward solving it, though. In the coming weeks, when people complimented my watch, I began to say thanks and then bite my tongue. One time the conversation went further: "Where did you get it?"
"It's a website called Lord Timepieces, and it's not that expensive - only $70."
"Oh, yeah, I thought it was way more."
Never. I didn't say that out loud.
But this weekend, staying over at my friend's, I got dressed in the morning and put on a new shirt I bought while in Holland. "You have good fashion sense. I love that shirt."
Me: "Thanks! It was only $13."
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