The other day, a friend of mine who is 15 years younger than me, told me how her generation never complimented one another. In an environment where everyone is trying to be the best, it was normal for my friend that nobody paid attention to the positive qualities of those around them. She even added that if she were to compliment someone, it would be received with suspicion. For her and her peers, it was sheepish to compliment someone.
This week, a student of mine who is 20 years younger than me, told me that what limited her the most in life was not feeling valued by others. This hardworking and successful girl felt that she wasn’t appreciated enough and was unhappy as a result.
I realized after writing these two paragraphs that I refrained from using the word ‘friend’, perhaps with an unconscious urge. Instead of saying ‘friend’ in either example, I chose to use words like ‘generation’, ‘peers’ and ‘others’. I couldn’t say friend because I think that I have this unshakable belief that a true friend would never withhold a compliment. And I don’t think that we need to be adults for this to happen because I remember noticing the positive qualities and successes of those around me even when I was a kid. Envy is part of human nature and I won’t say that it has bypassed me. But I must have learned that just as constructive criticism is part of a trustworthy friendship so is the expression of love and admiration. My friends (and my peers) must have learned this as well because I don’t recall any of us having issues in this department. It was never a sheepish thing to compliment someone in my generation.
The point of this piece, which signals the fact that I’m well on my way to becoming a grumpy old woman, was to express my feelings about compliments. I wonder if we all find it natural to refrain from giving compliments nowadays. In an effort to become the brightest star, who do we leave in the dark?
Translated by Talya Arditi