The other day i was hiking up a mountain, one of my favorite past times, and a young man passed me on his way up. He was bare chested with a pair of short shorts, a headband around his forehead to keep his long hair in place, and a pair of running shoes on his feet as he ran by. I was pretty impressed that he was going to run five miles of straight uphill, and with a simple “Good morning” I let him pass.
A short while later while I was still making the climb, he passed me again, this time on his way down. He was still running. I said, “You’re fast!” as he passed by. And his response struck me. Without hesitating and with a small smile, he said, “Thanks.” And kept running.
To be honest, the response that I had anticipated was something along the lines of, “Nah, I’m not fast at all.” To which I would say something like, “Well you’re way faster than me. I can barely take another step up this hill and I’m walking!” To which we would both walk (or run) away from feeling a bit inadequate about ourselves.
But instead of acting all “modest,” he took my compliment and ran with it. He believed it. And he didn’t have to believe it because he already knew it. The vibe that I got from his response was “Thank you! I am fast. I have been working really hard to get here and I feel great about myself and what I can do.” It was SO REFRESHING to come into contact with someone that was genuinely confident in something that they were genuinely good at.
In addition, his response did something for me too. Oddly enough, I didn’t watch him run away thinking, “I wish I was that fast,” or “I’m such a wimp, why can’t I be stronger.” Instead, I felt instantly boosted myself. His recognition and celebration of his talents and accomplishments, in a confident yet uncocky kind of way, turned me inward to my accomplishments and talents and made me feel like celebrating those. And made me look at his talent and think, “If I really wanted that and worked for it, I could be as fast as him!”
As much as we think self-deprecation is the way to be, IT’S NOT. And it doesn’t bring others up. I once heard that being humble isn’t putting yourself down, but bringing others up. This is something our culture could really work on, and I’m glad there has been somewhat of a trend to self-confidence recently. (And obviously there is a line between confidence and gloating and boasting, but if you are being honest with yourself it’s pretty easy to tell where that is.) Confidence is authentic. It’s secure. And what better circumstances could there be to form relationships in and make others feel good? TAKE compliments. BE confident. You might find that, in a strange way, your confidence in yourself will rub off on others and bring them up too. This is something that I have been thinking a lot about lately, and something that I really struggle with personally. I often don’t feel like I am enough, and find myself comparing myself to others and beating myself up over things that others may do or be so easily. But I have recently realized how damaging that can be and resolved to start being honest with myself and confident in who I am.
So next time someone gives you a compliment, especially if it is something that you admire in yourself or have worked really hard to achieve, do yourself and everyone else a favor and TAKE IT. Just take it. All you have to say is “Thanks.”