You Can Make It If You Try

I am, famously, terrible at taking compliments.

I used to believe this was part of my societal make-up purely from coming from Scotland, a country where it’s far more accepted — and arguably more fun — to take the piss out of yourself as a defense mechanism than to boast of your accomplishments… or, really, acknowledge them in any real manner, outside of a noncommittal shrug and attempt to quickly change the subject. And, don’t get me wrong, I’m sure that’s a significant factor in the who I ended up being today, because how could it not…? However. However.

I’ve had conversations with other people from Scotland, and elsewhere in the UK, about our inability to take compliments, and how we navigate it; I’ve also had conversations with a number of Americans about the same subject, and the ways in which the British method — essentially, just deny everything and pretend that whoever said the complimentary thing is objectively wrong — might actually be rude when you really think about it. And through all of this, I kept thinking one thing: there are some compliments I’m actually okay with.

Specifically, they’re compliments about things that come second nature to me; things that I don’t even think of as being worth noting, never mind complimenting. I am, for whatever reason, good at liveblogging or livetweeting events; I’ve been complimented on that many times, most recently at Emerald City Comic-Con earlier this month, and when that happens, I find myself surprisingly able to say thank you, and move on. No dissembling or argument; I just acknowledge it and say thank you.

What’s the difference? I’m unsure. Is it that if I don’t try, I don’t feel self-conscious if something notices me? Perhaps, but that just makes me embarrassed to consider. Maybe that’s more of the Scottishness that I hadn’t thought about coming out.

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