Joy and An Unexpected Compliment

Sitting in my car waiting for my daughter who is volunteering and listening to tunes, I hear a tap, tap, tap on the window of my car. A grey-haired woman smiles at me encouragingly, and I fumble with my keys so that I can open my window.

I smile and greet this woman who exclaims, “Wow, you are beautiful.”

After sharing some tax advice to do with volunteers and travel which will prove to be most helpful this April, we exchanged some small talk before she headed back to her volunteer duties. She expressed appreciation and admiration for my daughter which made her opinions all the more valuable in my eyes.

Little does this woman know that half an hour previously, I had been gazing into the lens of my camera recording a TikTok video. The learning curve has been rough with TikTok or videoing myself for that matter being virgin territory. Several times I have almost thrown in the towel, but as you will keep hearing in future posts, I joined a Mastermind group that is helping me deal with unhelpful thoughts and mindset. Apparently, "I hate this" and "I don’t want to do hard stuff" are unhelpful thoughts counterproductive to my growth.

Yes, I could give up and attempt to share my message of joy in other ways, but there is a voice inside me that keeps telling me to see it through. Giving up before I really can say I have tried is not sitting well with me. I need to try all the things. TikTok is the social media outlet of the day, and if I want to share my message about joy, TikTok is where I need to be.

While rolling the camera and practicing my spiel, a past traumatic memory of mine floats into my brain. I am in high school, and we are all hanging out during a lunch break. One of the young men who I greatly admired at the time held a video camera and was running around filming people. When it came to my turn to be filmed, he focused the camera, then looked at me, and then looked at the camera again. “You look a lot different on camera than you do in person.” It was not a compliment, and I have since always realized that I am one of those delightful individuals who does not "camera" well. This little interlude also cemented my relationship with any sort of screen presence until last week.

The unfortunate part is that it is true. I just was not born to be very photogenic. My features all seem to blur together, more prominent chins appear, and I have googly eyes….and yes, I meant multiple chins.

But at this stage in my life, it will take more than vanity to stop me from trying things…except bikinis…I will not go there. I will, however, do all the things it requires to spread my message of joy…even if sometimes the joy is celebrating the completion of another video and a win over my ego.

So record, I did, but at the same time feeling exposed and vulnerable. Having this woman unexpectedly compliment me boosted my spirit. I do not tend to define myself by others' opinions of me, but in this case, it was sorely-need encouragement that there is more to me than what appears on film (and fewer chins!). In this way, she gave me a huge gift of joy. I don’t think she’ll ever know what she did for me.

Unexpected compliment…unexpected joy…feeling grateful.

Reminds me to roll out a few authentic compliments over the next few days. You just never know where it might land and how much it might be needed.

A compliment is verbal sunshine.

- Robert Orben

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