No, I would never come up with a post like this myself, but because one of the bloggers I follow (drinkrunyoga.wordpress.com) sent it, I’m taking the time to answer. It’s important to remember the good things about ourselves, since we are usually our own worst critics. (And, as drinkrunyoga writes, Monday is a good day for making new friends.)
There are physical and physiological things about me that I think are, if not beautiful, at least nice (my handwriting, my voice, even my good posture)–and it calms me to see how much of my body and abilities I can accept and even love these days–but the things I like most about myself are those inner attributes other folks have sometimes had to point out before I could see them clearly.
In that vein, the first two things I’ll list are attributes that R had to point out to me.
1. I don’t talk down to children. Lots of people like to chuck kids’ chins and mostly ignore them when possible, but if forced to talk with kids many grownups sound stiff or bored–or worse, spout baby talk whether the kid is one or 11. As I mentioned in a post last week, when R and I went on our exercise walk at the beach, we took the little girl across the street to help corral our two high-spirited mini schnauzers. Sabrina is about nine or ten and has this quiet voice that speaks with a soft Irish lilt. She has darkish red hair and beautiful white skin and freckles, and she’s incredibly poised for a nine-year-old–when she isn’t being an all-out tomboy. After we returned from the beach Sabrina ran across the street to her house, and we went inside ours. Once inside, the first thing R said to me was that he was proud of the way I talked with her.
“What do you mean?” I asked. I didn’t remember anything earthshaking I’d said. “‘You didn’t talk down to her,” he replied. “You treated her as an equal. You asked how she liked being home schooled and when was the movie coming out that she and her brother had bit parts in, and you were really interested in her answers. It’s all little kids want, to be noticed and treated with respect. You did that. “
2. About a year into our relationship, R told me he thought I was one of the most sensitive, considerate people he’d ever met. That one was easy to explain. I wore pop-bottle-bottom glasses until I was 18 years old, and I grew up thinking I was tall and skinny and ugly and that everyone was secretly laughing at me. When I was in grade school the popular boys called me Bony Maroni, and more than once in high school I knew the snickers (and I don’t mean the candy bar) behind my back were meant for me. I stopped going to high school dances because none of the boys ever asked me to dance; I got the hint. I didn’t have my first date until the summer after I had graduated from high school. A boy I had secretly had a crush on during school asked me to the movies. I had a good time and even went out with him again, but I still wonder if he had asked me then because he was too embarrassed to be seen with me before.
Through the years, I exchanged those horrid glasses for contacts that showed off my deep blue eyes and long dark eyelashes, and guys began to notice me. It didn’t occur to me at the time that my improved self-image had given me a confidence I usually wasn’t aware of. But I have never forgotten those awful times of my youth. I seem to automatically home in on situations in which any person I’m around might have their feelings hurt by someone who isn’t being mean, necessarily, but just not thinking how a comment or gesture they make might hurt someone else. I try to find some way to make things better–for the maligned, if not for the relationship between myself and s/he who did the maligning.
3. I always try to see the other side of a situation, even if there are many other sides–which there usually are. This is one I learned from my dad. It can at times be real exhausting, because sometimes it not only makes me stop to think before I say or do something, or to remind someone else about all the other other sides, it sometimes makes me stop and think about sides for so long that I come to a halt–in thought and word and even movement–so much so that folks might think I’m completely undecided. They can’t look inside my mind and see my shoe figuratively nailed to the center of the floor while I spin round and round from one other side to all the other other sides I see, unable to choose. (I always did hate “Red Rover.”) But I am usually able to find the other side or sides that feel best to me, and in the long run (or spin), I think this attribute is a good and beautiful thing.
Beauty is, of course, in the eye of the beholder. I am lucky to have one beholder who can see mine and another whose actions taught me well.