“One compliment can affect a whole lifetime. Be bold and speak life giving words.”

You know that feeling when someone says they like your shoes/shirt/scarf?  Imagine that feeling lasting for years to come.

The quote that makes up the title of this post is attributed to Joel Osteen, and oh-so-true.  While, on the delicate continuum of confidence and cockiness, the validation provided by compliments can go either way, I feel it’s inherently a positive reinforcement.  Modern society doesn’t like to look highly upon too much praise, but it can be a good thing.  

For example….

I checked my mail on my way to work the other day and was surprised to find a small envelope from the college.  I’d recently written a piece for the department from which it originated, so I assumed it had something to do with that and quickly opened it.

Instead, it was a handwritten note from my advisor.  He congratulated me on making Dean’s list last semester and wrote that I’m doing very well despite the challenges of freshman year.  It brought me close to tears.

While few people have ever gone out of their way to put me down, I’ve always had a particularly strong voice of negativity in my head (thank you, anxiety).  It’s driven me to work hard- harder than I need to in some cases.  It’s the people who have pushed me up that have made the impact, made the pessimism bearable.  Their compliments have affected my life in ways that most of them are unaware of.

Take my senior year of high school, for example.  I’d always loved English, and I was loving AP (Advanced Placement) Literature and Composition.  I’ve never been one to talk a lot in class (not my best trait, by any means), yet the teacher and I got along incredibly well outside of that class.  We were both attending my Gifted Individualized Education Plan (GIEP) Meeting that spring, when she mentioned a piece I’d written.  She spoke so highly of it that I couldn’t help but smile.  I’d really liked my idea, but it was far from the type of writing done by the others in the class.  Yet it wasn’t inferior because of this- if anything, she made me believe it was superior (I’ll post the piece sometime, if anyone would like to read it [comment if that’s you!]).

My mom’s always been my biggest cheerleader, of course.  A few other teachers and, more recently, professors, have given me this sort of self-esteem boost- somehow it’s always when I need it most.

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