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Courageous compliments

Hello, my name is Victoria Horn, and for at least twenty years of my twenty-two-year life, I was afraid to compliment anyone.

If you know me at all, this probably will not surprise you. As someone who has received a 100 percent introvert rating on the Meyers-Briggs test (a feat they all said was impossible), I have not been the most forthcoming with people about how I feel about them or what I think about them or pretty much anything that could end in my face giving Bob the Tomato from “Veggie Tales” a run for his money. I also know I am not alone in my reluctance to take a risk and tell (for example) Abbey Slattery she is the woman you want to be when you grow up.

Last week, I was scrolling through the Twitterverse (and procrastinating reading a 200-page book for my lit class) when I happened upon this poem by Jordan Randall: “If you think someone is kind of awesome / I think you should tell them today. / If you’re obsessed with their hair / and the way they roll their eyes / I think you should tell them today. / If you think their laugh is everything / and you want to hear it everyday / I’m saying— / if you want this person’s laugh / to be your ringtone / I think you should go ahead / and tell them today. / If you’ve been thinking of someone / in every line and every word / I think you should tell them today. / I promise / it absolutely cannot wait until tomorrow.”

Randall posted this poem from his poetry collection with the caption, “Wrote this as a reminder to myself that the kind things I think about people mean absolutely nothing if they don’t know them too.” I do not know about you, but I was absolutely floored by Randall’s conviction—and absolutely horrified by my selfishness. Kindness can easily shrivel into greed when you never pour it out to anyone but yourself.

Since coming to Northwestern almost four years ago, I have come into contact with so many cool people, and as I have grown from a pale little wallflower into a big blooming rose amid a garden of Red Raiders, I have somehow found myself lucky enough to call those cool people my friends. I know God has more to do with that than my weird self did, but I also know that I never would have gathered this bouquet of brilliant people if I had not approached each of them with the simple desire to tell them, for example, that their song on Cabaret Night made me cry, or they have good taste in books or their Praise and Worship message spoke into my heart with God’s wisdom.

As terrifying as it is to approach a stranger so vulnerably, those were some of the most rewarding risks I have ever taken. It did not pay off every time, but even if you do not gain a friend from every interaction, I believe you gain something even more valuable: a greater sense of what it means to love all people with the same unconditional love as that dead God-man on the cross.

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