Some Very Specific Compliments I Don’t Think I’ll Ever Forget

Instagram/Kendra Syrdal

1.

I was talking to Chrissy about writing and writers and work and doing the work and all of the things I love talking to Chrissy about. And this specific writer came up who I’ve admired…for forever. She’s one of those people I put up on a pedestal of “HOLY SHIT I WILL NEVER BE THIS TALENTED” and even though after meeting several of my heroes and just like, growing up I understand that people are just people, no matter how talented, I will likely never take her off of my internalized pedestal. Anyway, run on sentence aside, we were talking about her and how good she is and I sent Chrissy a line from this piece and she just said, “Yeah. Girl’s got chops.” And something about that stuck with me. Because it’s a compliment I would normally associate with my dad saying something about a guitar player who nailed a particularly complicated riff or someone who was ballsy on a motorcycle. But hearing it from Chrissy about a line from a breakup piece was just…I’m not sure but it obviously made a mark.

2.

There’s this girl who is a local celeb in my hometown because she made it ~big~ on Broadway. And no shade—it’s very cool that she was able to make a name for herself in such a competitive, intense industry. But I remember a director who worked with her a bunch talking about her before her big show was about to open. He was asked all of the standard, repetitive questions, before being asked about her talent. And he sort of paused before saying, “You know, she wasn’t the most talented girl I ever directed. But she worked so hard she’d make you think she was.” And that stuck in my brain. I’ve never forgotten it. It’s motivated me to always being one step ahead, never missing a thing, and being ultimately so hardworking that even if I’m not the star of the show, I’m still in the back of someone’s mind. It’s probably (at least partially) responsible for who I am today.

3.

I was 18. I was 18 and buzzed. I was 18 and buzzed and half-naked. I was 18 and buzzed and half-naked in a bed. I was 18 and buzzed and half-naked in a bed of a much older boy. I was 18 and buzzed and half-naked and in a bed of a much older boy and I probably shouldn’t have been there. And this is the part of the story where a reader naturally tenses up and waits for the bad part. Where they wait for the part where everything goes wrong. But that’s not this story. Instead, the much older boy took tiny, buzzed, and shivering me into his arms and held me. And he kissed the freckles that still haven’t faded and murmured into my skin, “You have the most perfect shoulders.” And it has taken me almost a decade to realize why I still remember that night. Because even though I was 18 and buzzed and half-naked and in this bed with this much older boy, he never took advantage. He just wanted me to feel safe. He just made me feel safe.

4.

My best friend got married a few months ago and it brought together so many people from all corners of his life. Childhood friends, high school crew, college friends, people he works with. It was this beautiful hodge-podge of people, a lot of who had no other reason to be around each other if not for the fact that we all love our friends and wanted to celebrate them. A few weeks after the wedding one of the bridesmaids posted an Instagram talking about how much she loves our mutual BFF, and all of the other nostalgic things about watching your friends grow up. But she also said this: “He is truly the glue that keeps us all together.” It didn’t stick with me (no pun intended) because of jealousy or wondering what that’s like or anything. It’s just completely true. He’s the glue. And we’re lucky to have him.

5.

It was a Monday. I was very stressed out. I felt like there was this enormous weight sitting right on my chest and eventually I would burst from the pressure of trying to be too many things. I was juggling a lot and not sleeping enough and just in generally a tough spot. And seemingly out of nowhere he said to me, “I don’t know if you hear this a lot, but you’re doing a great job.” And even though he was right and I don’t and I don’t even necessarily need to hear that all that often, in that moment it was the only thing I needed. TC mark

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