How to never take a compliment, a crash course.

Step 1: care very much about what people think about you. This step is not necessary, but will really help to enforce the idea that you need the compliment, which will make it so much worse when you are never able to accept it. If possible, have one of your love languages be ‘words of affirmation.’ That way you can simultaneous crave the affirmation of people in your life while also ensuring you never receive it.

Step 2: disregard any compliments given to a group you are a part of. They were obviously not meant for you. They were for the other more talented and/or prettier members of the group. They just addressed it to the group because it would be very awkward for everyone if they didn’t. If they really meant it they would have come talk to you away from the group and addressed their compliments to you specifically.

Step 3: any nice words spoken to you at a time when it is normal or expected to compliment someone also don’t count. They are obviously only saying that nice thing because it is the convention and social politeness dictates they do. You’re supposed to tell girls they look pretty at weddings. You’re supposed to tell someone they’re great when they’re having a bad day. Therefore you must assume all nice things said to you in those situations are only said because it would be more awkward to not say them.

Step 4: if someone says a nice thing in response to something you asked them, you were fishing for a compliment and it doesn’t count either. What were they supposed to do? Tell you that the dress looks terrible? Tell you your idea is terrible? You put them in an awkward position and they said the nice thing to try and make you feel better. It is insincere and you brought it upon yourself. If they really liked the dress, they would have told you without you asking.

Step 5: did someone compliment you after a performance, presentation, or some other public appearance? They could be sincere, but make sure you remember how when you were a kid at camp people would clap louder for the terrible acts in the talent show so as to not make the child feel bad. It is probably safe to assume they are doing this to you. The more enthusiastically they congratulate you, the more sure you can be they don’t mean it. And if they offer a generic, unenthusiastic compliment, they don’t mean it either since a public performance of any kind clearly falls into the category of ‘time when you are expected to compliment’ (see step 3).

Step 6: is the compliment you received generic? If so, throw that out too. Things like “you look nice” have no meaning anymore. They are the generic platitudes that have been repeated so many times they have lost their meaning entirely. Like when someone asks how you are and you reply with, “I’m good, how are you?” without even thinking. They come out of people’s mouths without even thinking and serve as no more than generic niceties and conversation filler. If they really thought something about you looked nice, they would have been more specific.

Step 7: was someone earnest and forceful in their compliments? If so, see the “people clap louder for the bad acts out of pity” part of step 5.

Step 8: if someone offers you a unexpected, specific, relaxed compliment at time when no social convention dictates they should, and with no prompting, assume they have read this post and are just giving it to prove they can. You can safely assume they don’t mean it either.

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I think that about covers it. There should now be no situation in which a compliment will strike you as sincere and you can live your life in the quiet misery of knowing that no matter how hard others try to make themselves seem sincere and like they admire you, you can see through it. You’re welcome.

What I Read in February

This last semester of my degree is in full swing, and so, clearly, other projects are falling by the wayside. It’s an unfortunate side effect, and I’m very Very excited for school to be over so I can relearn how to prioritize things in a non-school-focused life. What will it be like???? I’ve been doing school pretty much full-time going on six years now, and good gracious I am so close to the end. My classes will be over mid-April, and convocation is in June, and I’m not sure how my brain will react to the prospect of not having school to do or prepare for. Last summer I wasn’t working and I was between semesters, and I still would wake up thinking “I need to work on that paper today and get it submitted” only to remember I didn’t have any papers to write; I have a feeling that this residual school impetus will stick around for awhile after I graduate.

In January I read 14 books, mostly due to being stricken with the head cold of the century in the week before classes started, and I knew that I wouldn’t read nearly that many in February once under the influence of academia. I finished reading four books in February, and I’m quite pleased with the total. Here they are:

PaperGirls

Paper Girls, vol. 1 / Brain K. Vaughan et al.

Someone described this book as “Stranger Things, but with girls” and we all know I love Stranger Things, so how could I resist? It follows a group of paper delivery girls as a time-travel and alien threat descends on their town. People are disappearing, there are giant dinosaurs flying around, and thieves stealing radios. The colours and art are perfect, and the girls rely on loyal friendships and grit. It’s very good.

TheRules

The Rules Do Not Apply / Ariel Levy

I read this for book club. It’s a memoir, and tells the story of Ariel Levy’s marriage and pregnancy, and the loss of both over a short period of time. It’s a fast and heavy read, and while it left me feeling tired and sad, it was still a very good book. Ariel Levy has some trouble identifying and confronting her own privilege in many ways, but that, of course, doesn’t diminish her grief or make the things that happened to her less terrible. It’s a good book.

BookThousandDays

Book of a Thousand Days / Shannon Hale

This is probably my number one comfort read. I’ve listened to the audiobook I don’t know how many times, and I have no doubt that I’ll continue to get it from the library and listen to it over and over. It’s a retelling of a fairy tale, and follows Dashti and Lady Saren as they are locked in a tower for seven years, and what happens once they get out of the tower. Sometimes when Josh is out of town for work, I’ll set this to play for 45 minutes when I go to bed, and I’ll fall asleep to the story. The book is written as a journal, which I love.

Attachments

Attachments / Rainbow Rowell

This is the only Rainbow Rowell book I’ve read, and it’s another comfort read. Listen: school and anxiety have been rough in the last bit and so I fall back on familiar, comfortable stories. This story is set in 1999, and has a premise which sounds weird when I try to explain it. Lincoln is hired to patrol inter-office email at a newsroom, ends up reading emails sent between Beth and Jennifer, two friends who work there, and develops feelings for Beth. It’s a nice book with a cute story, what more can I say.

THERE YOU GO, the four books I read in Feb, half of which were re-reads. It was a pretty light and unchallenging reading month, but it suited me just fine. I’m currently in the middle of listening to another comfort read, World War Z, and I just want to add an extra recommendation here at the end of this post: read World War Z at your soonest opportunity. It is waaaaaay better than you think it is, I promise. I know we all got tired of zombies around the same time we got tired of bacon-reverence, but TRUST ME, World War Z is 100% worth your time.