Be honest: What do you say about you?

So, I got caught by one of those annoying Facebook quizzes. This one in particular inquired if it could guess my age and gender via my answers to ten questions.

The questions were generally pretty silly, ranging from what would you do in a technology emergency to asking if you’re a dog person or a cat person.

But the one that stopped me, got me thinking, asked, “What do other people say about you?”

Here’s the (semi) screenshot:

what-do-other-people-say-about-you

I don’t know why this question bothered me. I actually stared at it for a good minute or more before answering and moving on. I went down the list, wondering if I would say those things about myself if I were, you know, NOT myself.

“Am I always willing to help others? No. Sometimes I’m pretty darn selfish and I go out of my way not to help. Not that one…”

“Am I ambitious? Sometimes, but, then, I can’t be that ambitious. I am taking a Facebook quiz, after all…”

“Am I smart? Okay. I could do that. Not, you know, super smart, but I get by. But what kind of smart? Like, street smart or book smart? How many kinds of smart are there? This question needs to be more specific.”

“Am I open-minded? I think so, but would people say that about me? I mean, I’m pretty open-minded in my mind, but does that show outwardly? Maybe I’m close-minded and I just think I’m open-minded. Maybe being open-minded is a very close-minded thing to think about myself. What does an open-minded person look like from the outside?”

“Am I loyal? Sure, okay. I qualify, but I’m no saint, let’s get real. What does loyalty entail: complete honesty, acceptance, never questioning relationship choices made? So if I lie to a friend, I’m being disloyal; I’ve lied to friends. If I don’t accept something about someone, if I get mad at something about them I don’t like instead of accepting how and who they are, that’s basically rejecting them. That’s disloyal, too. And if I get in an uber bad argument with a friend and internally question whether or not we should be friends anymore, even if I don’t say anything… is that disloyal? I don’t think I’m, like, dog-level loyal. Maybe cat-level. Where’s that question? ‘Are you dog- or cat-level loyal?'”

Thus my mind went. I eventually settled on answering that people say I’m smart because I’ve actually been told that before. I figured it was the most fitting.

After finishing the questionnaire and having my age and gender guessed by the all-knowing Facebook quiz, I contemplated the aforementioned question some more. I realized there were two reasons why it bothered me enough to take a screenshot and write a blog about it:

1. I’m not good with receiving compliments

My first instinct is to throw their compliment back at them, as if we’re playing a game of hot potato and I don’t want to be stuck with it.

Sure, I like compliments. Sometimes I even fish for them, they’re so decadent. Rare is the person who doesn’t like being complimented. But liking them and receiving them are two different things.

I enjoy the accolade as much as the next person, but I’m awful in person when someone issues a compliment. My first instinct is to throw it back at them, as if we’re playing a game of hot potato and I don’t want to be stuck with it.

I’ve been working hard on fixing this TERRIBLE — yes, terrible — habit of mine, wishing it will die a quick and painful death. Ungraciously accepting a compliment is like an emotional slap in the face to the person dishing it out: They’ve gone out of their way to say something nice about you and here you are throwing it back at them, as if you don’t want it.

LESSON:

Don’t tailgate someone’s compliment of you with one of your own of them. That’s annoying  and relationship cancer. If the Fashion Police had a cousin institution called the Rude Police, they’d be pulling you over and issuing you a hefty fine for your rudeness. Just say “thank you” and move on.

2. I have a hard time admitting I’m genuinely great.

I’m pretty darn awesome but I’m also a broken person with lots of uncertainties floating about.

All those things listed in the questionnaire that anonymous people could have said about me made me uncomfortable because, even though I pump myself up, say “I’m awesome!” (and sometimes even mean it a little), and go about my day like I’m rockin’ it, that doesn’t mean I would eagerly latch onto these nice things someone might say about me with unconditional fervor. There are undoubtedly conditions.

As you can see from my train of thought above, a lot of questions come up about morality, loyalty, what it means to be smart, ambitious, open-minded. The load of questions I piled on myself over this simple inquiry of “What do other people say about you?” just pointed to the fact that I think I’m pretty darn awesome BUT that I’m also a broken person with lots of uncertainties floating about. And I can guarantee that even the most big-headed, confident-appearing, egotistical person out there is really just hiding their brokenness behind that facade.

But, don’t get huffy. I’m not downsizing myself here, either. Yes, I think I’m helpful, ambitious, smart, loyal, open-minded, and admitting all those things makes me neither egotistical nor perfect. It means I love myself, and I think I’m pretty darn cool.

LESSON:

It’s okay–even encouraged!–to compliment yourself, but maintain your humility and your humanity. It isn’t wrong to think you’re genuinely awesome, but remember everyone is broken, uncertain, and that there are a lot of grey areas within your awesomeness. And that’s perfectly acceptable.

So, in closing, I’m switching the question around. Not “what do other people say about you”, because that’s vague (“Who is the ‘other people’ and why are they talking about me?”), but

What do YOU say about you?

Think on that one, why don’cha.


P.S. In case you’re wondering, the quiz guessed that I am a 73-year-old woman. At least it didn’t think I was a man.

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