I compliment strangers every day.
It’s not something I set out to to do, but I made two promises a long time ago that make it inevitable:
1. Keep my eyes, ears, and heart open to beautiful things.
2. Never sit on the impulse to tell someone something positive.
This means that no matter the place, time, person-if I think something they might be happy to hear, I say it. I tell people how much I like their voices, nails, spirits, or faces through drive-thru windows. I tell people when I love their shoes or their pants. I recently told a server that he had such a “warm and professional demeanor-and not in a stuffy way at all” during a curbside takeout transaction (I need to get more interaction outside of food service workers, but you get the idea).
It doesn’t have to be physical or the usual. As long as it’s from the heart, real, socially somewhat appropriate, and genuinely kind-I say it. As long as I have the impulse and it organically popped into my mind, I feel totally free to let the person know. Why keep something that could make someone’s day in the shadows? We hide so much.
The weird part is, even knowing how many different shapes and sounds beauty can take, and as much as I don’t like to keep positive (but sometimes unexpected) truths hidden from others…I sometimes hide my true self in my day to day life-even more so than social media (where I’m pretty much an open book).
I don’t wear makeup most days-and waking up with the flu on top of chronic illness, today was no exception. When you’re sick, you tend to feel like you LOOK as bad as you feel unless you were able to overcompensate-and sometimes even then. I notice when I’m feeling this way, I don’t look people in the eye as much. I’m not as personable. I hide even the inner beauty when I assume the outside isn’t reflecting it. I “save” my authentic self-which actually takes MORE energy and is utterly counterintuitive, yet common.
Today, I chose not to think about that. I went to get fresh juice and a wheatgrass shot from my favorite local place. As I knocked the green juice back with the swiftness of a veggie veteran, a girl online asked me about its benefits. I enthusiastically told her, and she stopped me in the middle to say “you’re really beautiful by the way”.
I was taken aback. No makeup. Day 1.5/2 of the flu. I accepted the compliment half way-divulging that I was surprised to get it while sick and without a stitch of makeup. Either the wheatgrass itself or talking about it must have lit me up (and not by the millennial “getting drunk” definition). Either way, it made me happy-just when I needed it. I got a taste of my own medicine- a brand not a lot of people are willing to take out of their trench coats on a rainy run to the store. And all because two people converged on a day they were willing to be authentic and glow. Isn’t that kind of what we’re all seeking?
It’s kind of amazing what can come of peering around our shadows-whether to compliment someone else or to be ourselves. It makes so little sense to hide away when we think we are ugly or might say the wrong thing, because it dims our light even further-when just being a little more present and real-looking up, saying what’s on our minds-can yield so much healing.
Photography: Lance Allen Reis
(@kickassdesigns on instagram)