I sat in on a friend’s class the other day. It was actually the last lecture of the semester, so many of her students were just a leeeetle bit zoned out. I, of course, was paying strict attention to the subject matter … except when I was ogling the unbelievable hairstyle of the girl seated in front of me.
She had taken her short bob and pulled it back into what can only be described as a sunflower of hair at the back of her head. Bobbypins and hairspray were definitely involved, as was a big heaping helping of SKILL. I was in awe.
When class wrapped up, I made myself kneel down in the aisle behind her, tap her on the shoulder, and tell her how spectacular this hairdo was. As always, I expected a bit of a brush-off, and as always, I was greeted with warmth and surprise and delight. We chatted away about how she wrangled it into that configuration, and how sometimes she tried to do the ‘do and failed, and had to give it up for the day. And it felt great and real, and the great realness of it ALMOST eclipsed the fact that when I attempted to stand, my boot heel caught on my floor-length skirt not once, not twice, but three full, awkward times before I could rise and exit.
As much as we treasure the compliments we receive from friends, family, and loved-ones, it’s hard to deny that compliments from strangers are frequently more enduring and illuminating. Deanna Raybourn writes about a high school English exercise in which her entire class was asked to submit a single anonymous compliment to every classmate. She STILL HAS those little slips of paper, complimenting her on traits she may not even possess any longer. I will never, ever forget a compliment that a dental hygenist gave me at least five years ago. And I do not doubt that Fantastic Sunflower Hairdo Girl will remember my chat with her happily and fondly for a good long time. Stranger compliments take bravery to give, but their effects can be profound and magical.
Give one today.
Image courtesy smcgee.