We all have emotional ups and downs. Self esteem for a millennial is weird, because we’ve watched enough PBS programming to know we are amazing, yet our dreams haven’t all come true. A lot of us can simultaneously think the world of ourselves and be anxious about ever amounting to anything. As a North American girl, this often involves obsessing over body image, beauty and fashion in ways that I hate. I wish I could say that I’m above all this, but I am guilty of worrying over everything from my weight to my culinary skills. A kind word from an employer or a casting director or my sister goes a long way. I was feeling really down recently, and a friend suggested I write a list of the nicest things things people have ever told me. Aside from giving my confidence an unhealthily high boost, it also took me down memory lane of some weird and wonderful affirmations I received in the last 8 years.
1. “I love watching you do scenes from West Wing- you’re so natural with that dialogue! You should be on an Aaron Sorkin show!”
The Compliment Giver: Danny, an older guy in my film acting class.
The Time & Place: Fall 2012, Pro Actors Lab Class (Toronto)
The amount of esteem I have for Aaron Sorkin verges on insane/fangirl. I think he has written some of the most cleaver dialogue in the history of American television, and some of the greatest characters of all time (See: President Bartlett, anything portrayed by Bradley Whitford, etc). When I had the chance to work on a few Sorkin scenes for my acting class, I was already geeking out pretty hard. When one of my classmates told me how great I was at it, and that it seemed like those thoughts were my own and “flowed out of me”, I nearly died of joy.
2. “Tristy, yours has the most handsome boyfriend!”
The Compliment Giver: Elizabeth, a 3-year-old I used to Nanny
The Time & Place: Christmas 2008, San Diego (California)
When the little girl I babysat met my boyfriend for the first time, she was smitten. While technically this was a compliment meant for someone else, I think it really affected the way she felt about me. Like she was impressed I could catch such a babe. She was the cutest but hadn’t quite grasped proper pronouns usage. Or full command of the letters F & K.
3 . “You look so Carrie Bradshaw right now!”
The Compliment Giver: My (sassy Gay) friend Brian
The Time & Place: May 2013, Free Times Patio (Toronto)
Seeing my old friend Brian again for the first time in years was so exciting. Having him tell me I looked skinny and pretty was gravy. I was wearing short shorts and ridiculous shoes, and my hair was wavy and wild. He invoked the name of Carrie. Now the weird hats and excessive amount of crop tops aside, this compliment, from this friend, may be the one I’ve been waiting for since I bought my first pair of heels.
4. “Your writing style reminds me of Lucy Maud Montgomery!”
The Compliment Giver: Jeremy from AP English, Grade 11
The Time & Place: 2005, Fredericton (New Brunswick, Canada)
We were all reading our short stories aloud, and I had created some innocent drivel about a pie contest or something equally as saccharine. The cute hippy in our class told me he like my story and that it reminded him of Anne Of Green Gables. Anne Shirley is one of the best female characters I’ve ever read, and those stories are some of the sweetest. In retrospect, he might have been a little more condescending than I originally understood, but I still don’t care. It is an honour to be likened to an author as strong as Lucy Maud.
5 “Watching you dance inspired me to go see more Ballet…”
The Compliment Giver: My college roommate
The Time & Place: 2008, Playhouse North Calgary (Alberta, Canada)
I am a pretty awful dancer. But as part of a cabaret performance in my first year of theatre school I was in a really cool number that was heartfelt and masterfully choreographed by our teacher. Afterwards people raved, and my roommate Mel declared that she was going to get a subscription to the Calgary Ballet. This one was quite weird, but in the heat of the theatre school moment, it felt pretty good.
6. “You’re like a younger, prettier Keri Russell”
The Compliment Givers: A sharply dressed Russian couple
The Time & Place: July 2013, The elevator in my building (Toronto)
Sometimes my curly hair works for me, sometimes it doesn’t. Having a gay Russian couple insist you enter the elevator first is nice. Having them gush about your curly hair and how you’re as pretty as Felicity is almost too much to handle. I tweeted about this immediately but my bestie put me in my place by announcing that I misspelled “Keri”. She keeps me grounded.
I’m sorry. Although I do feel great about myself right now. I’m going to pay it forward and accost people on the elevators right now. And then I’m going to visit my local convenience store, where the clerks always knows how to praise me with compliments like “Wow, another bottle of Wasabi Peas, impressive…” and “Um…are you sure you want a six pack of diet coke and all that chocolate”?