This I Believe

M - Lenexa, Kansas
Entered on September 21, 2006

Life-Changing Compliments

Recently, my daughter Lena said something that brought me close to tears. She said, “Mommy, you are the most beautiful Mommy in the whole world.” Now, I know she is only five, and doesn’t know all the mommies of the world, but knowing that that is what she thinks touched me deeply.

I’ve known for quite a while the power of giving a compliment. I never expected giving a compliment to someone would change me, but several years ago that is exactly what happened. Gina was a co-worker of mine. She was a tall, very confident-looking woman, who loved classical music and could play the violin. We weren’t close, but we did happen to have the same lunch hour, so we would sit together and chat over our sandwiches and drinks. Gina had beautiful red hair that she wore loose, sometimes to the side with a clip. It was curly, and had small streaks of blond that shined, even under our fluorescent lights. One day, I had been staring at her hair for a time that I thought longer than normal, so I commented, “Gina, sorry for staring, but your hair is so pretty. It always looks great.” Gina stopped eating and it was her turn to stare for a time longer than normal. I got scared for a minute. I tried to remember what religion she was; maybe she couldn’t get hair compliments? I was about to apologize when she said to me, “Thank you. You have no idea how much that means to me. My hair started to fall out when I was a little girl, and it grew back, obviously, but I’ve always been self-conscious

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about it.” I didn’t know what to say. We had never talked about anything other than the weather and our fellow co-workers, and now my compliment about her hair changed it all. We kind of smiled at each other, and then went back to eating, but with a difference. From then on, our small talk became a little more. We talked about family and childhood, and grew to become very close. To this day, even though states apart, we email once a week and I count her among my best friends.

I’ve never encountered that again, the life-changing compliment. I don’t know if it changed Gina’s life, but it definitely changed mine. I realized a compliment is more than just saying, “I love your shoes!” It’s being honest with someone and opening yourself up to him or her. It’s showing that person that you see them. I believe a compliment can change your world-not just by receiving one, but by giving one. I’m trying to get used to the receiving part. Lena might not have felt that life-changing moment after her compliment to me, but I know I will always treasure being her “most beautiful Mommy in the world”.