On Compliments And Gratitude

12:54:00 AM BB 4 Comments

I have a complicated relationship with compliments. But I'm working on it. It's sometimes feels odd that most of the compliments I get right now are things I used to feel very insecure about: my eyes, my face, my clothes, my name. 

Melanin on fleek!
For most of my teenage years, I hated my eyes. I thought they were large and weird. In elementary school (called primary school in Nigeria), my friends teased me about my eyes a lot. It was all  good fun, Nigerians tease each other like crazy; but those words did take a toll on my self esteem. 

I also went through a phase of thinking I had an odd face. I had pretty bad acne, so bad my brother called me polkadots cos I had acne scars all over. Thanks, Tonye! LOL. I also had no confidence in my fashion choices. My brother was always the stylish one and I always went with him whenever I wanted to buy clothes so he could tell me what looked good and what didn't. I remember moving to the US, and sharing my first outfit post in North America, and my brother wrote this hahaha. The struggle was very real but I did it! Living on my own in North Dakota was an important process in the evolution of my style because for once I was in total control of my style and everything related to it.


My name is also a contentious one. Growing up in Northern Nigeria, I always assumed my Ijaw name was very unique cos other than my family, I was basically the only Ijaw person I knew. I remember when I first realized that so many people answered "Boma" and being like "wth, mom and dad?". This important part of my identity isn't what I thought it was anymore. 

All these things meant that I had little confidence as a teenager. For most of my middle school/early high school years, I didn't take any pictures of myself. There was no such thing as class photos in the schools I went to in Nigeria and Botswana. I remember my last year of school in Nigeria when my mom basically forced me to take a photo with my friends after school haha. Whenever I see the pictures in my old photo album, I reminisce on my basic days.

After the ugly phase (for real, look at my old pictures), I entered the 'glow up' phase. People complimented my eyes a lot and I never took it seriously. I actually thought it was compliments out of sympathy. But in time, I came to appreciate that I do have nice huge brown eyes. Also, my face is quite oval and proportional, two things I appreciate in faces worldwide. My name also has a nice ring to it.

Excuse me while I post more pictures of my beautiful brown eyes:

Before I started threading my brows. These brows were not on fleek

The journey to get to a place where I'm able to accept compliments with gratitude is an ongoing one. I started off not accepting compliments, to accepting compliments, and now I'm conscious not to be dismissive when I receive  a compliment. This sounds incredibly cocky, but I do receive compliments on a daily basis and that "thank you" often doesn't mean much. I say it because I'm expected to. I think this is pretty bad. With my friends who know me quite well, I sometimes don't even say thank you and will go: "you know me, I always look good".

I've been reflecting the past few days on the nature of compliments. They are often kind and show good intention. I always want my response to not be dismissive but full of thought and gratitude. Speaking of gratitude: I was in Vancouver this weekend, a city where I feel like my fashion aesthetic blends in. Thanks for your kind words, Vancouverites. Always a blast!

4 comments:

  1. I get compliments at work everyday, and I must say, I don't know how to receive them well.I find in-person compliments extremely awkward, and I usually try to change the topic, or down play it.

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  2. haha, I know what you mean cos I feel this way about hair. I feel super uncomfortable with compliments about my hair turn into long conversations haha

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  3. Your blog posts are always such fun to read. It would be nice to have the link to each new post on Facebook. That way it would be easier for those of us who are not very social media savvy to have access to new posts.

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  4. haha, thanks!! Btw, there's a link on the right that says 'follow by email' so you know when a new post is uploaded.

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Thanks for keeping your comments thoughtful and concise :)