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I came to a realization a couple of days ago: My customers constantly refuse to believe compliments. When someone, whether it be myself,  a friend, or another person in class, gives them a compliment on their painting, they always negate the compliment with something like, “You’re crazy,” or “You need glasses,” or “You’ve had too much to drink,” or “Whatthefuckiswrongwithyou?” They never just smile and say, “Thank you.” Generally this holds true more for women than men. The men usually (not always, but usually) love taking credit for the things they’ve done right, but the women seem unable to believe their own abilities. Or maybe we’re just taught that we shouldn’t brag, and believing someone who thinks you’ve done well would be akin to that. Regardless, I’m constantly reminding them that the appropriate response to a compliment is to accept it. That’s the generous thing to do.

And yet, after singing a couple weekends ago, I found myself pointing out all of my mistakes to anyone who gave me a compliment afterward. I focused on how badly I screwed up the one song instead of those little pieces that I did well. Part of it was my need to show that I’m good enough to know I screwed up, but part was that, particularly as women, we’re not trained to own our talents. So we’re either putting on a false modesty, or we honestly don’t believe in our own abilities. Both options are sad. People were generous enough to say that it was a job well done, but I wasn’t generous enough to thank them. And by saying, “Oh no, I sucked,” it forced them to have to be more insistent in their praise, which demands more of them and can become rather awkward.

So, my apologies to anyone whose compliment I didn’t more graciously accept. And I whole-heartedly thank you.

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