I’ve realized this weekend that I’m worse with compliments than I thought I was, because more often than not, they can easily seem trite and insincere to me. As if people expect that it’s what I want to hear, as if it will get them in my good graces. If compliments come from my parents, my inner 8 year old clings to them like gold stars. If somebody sends me a note saying I’ve given them hope or I’m inspirational, I’m humbled, because that’s more than I ever hoped to be. You can’t set out to be inspirational. It reads cheesy if you do, a Tony Robbins seminar of wasted time. You can only really set out to be yourself and hope for the best to happen incidentally along the way.
But when people tell me I’m pretty, I falter. Not because I don’t believe them — how conceited does that sound? — but because I never tried to be pretty and it’s not something for which I want to take credit.
Pretty can get a girl far, but in what direction? I’ve never been able to cash pretty in at the bank, nor do I want to. I was raised to work really hard for what I have, and to stand on my own two feet, and to have a conversation, and really mean things when I say them. (If I really mean to be sarcastic and thereby mean nothing I’m saying at all, that’s a loophole.) But in this day and age, when looks are everything and people beg for “likes” and follows on social media sites the whole interwebs over, words about aesthetics seem tired and overused. I’ve never done anything because of my looks. I’ve never done anything for my looks, either. Attractiveness is a mix of your genes, which you don’t get to pick; and society, whose overarching notions about beauty bear down on us all no matter how we rebel; and personal subjection. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. You can’t convince somebody that you’re attractive the same way you can prove that you’re smart or resourceful or trustworthy or funny.
Complaining about being thought of as pretty? #whitegirlproblems, right? How dare I try to rebuke compliments of all things. Don’t get me wrong; I’m always flattered when somebody says I look nice that day. But it usually doesn’t bowl me over. It’s a nice gesture, but life goes on if I’m not told I’m pretty eight times a day. I’ve been told that I should just be gracious and grateful for the attention, no matter how unwarranted it may be.
Or maybe putting yourself out there on social media means you’re inadvertently soliciting the opinion of others. I never meant to do that myself. I never wanted to market myself as “some cute chick” with a blog or with instagram. I’ve only been driven by the fact that my voice is too loud to stay quiet and I’m too stubborn to learn to shut up. I’d rather the world care about what I have to say than what I look like. I’ve cared about what I look like. I used to care a whole lot about it. And sometimes I like to pamper myself and get a massage or a manicure or new makeup and feel pretty. But I do that for myself. I don’t do it so that other people benefit. You’re not invited to my self-indulgence. Let me be selfish and have my “me” time.
Maybe that’s a very narrow minded way to think, and maybe it’s even more narrow minded because in the back of my mind, I’ve always known I don’t have to worry about my looks. But more than just let whatever “natural beauty” shine through, I just stopped caring.
Which is why sometimes I look at the attention that total strangers pay all of these random attractive people they will never meet and it strikes me as a sort of new aged cat calling. It’s gone from the sidewalks to the comment sections of photos. Or maybe I’m being way too cynical for words. I probably am.
Any guy I’ve ever dated learned really quickly that compliments were rather useless. I’m really bad with accepting them when I like you already, because I stammer and blush and feel bashful because I didn’t really do anything to earn the kind words beyond having the parents I do. But when there’s little emotion established between me and somebody else, their words bounce off of me in what’s admittedly a bit of an apathetic void. I hate cat calls partially because being reduced to a piece of meat is totally my idea of a good time — oh, hey, there’s that sarcasm — but also because the attention is totally useless to me. Everyone’s beautiful in their own way, whatever. It doesn’t separate you from the herd. Being interesting does. Being accepted as your own person does.
Every guy I’ve ever dated has been, in some form, my best friend. On one hand, I honestly believe that’s how it should be if you’re going to invest so much time and so much feeling into another person. But if the hormones wear off, if you wake up next to them and they haven’t spent hours perfecting their makeup, will you still like them? Saying that looks fade seems like reaching too far into the future, and by no means do I think that every relationship in my fuck-up-young-adulthood will be The One. But somewhere, one of them could be. And even if they’re not, I’d rather not look back at the end and declare that I’d wasted my time. And a relationship based on somebody putting me on a pedestal and calling me pretty just seems like… a waste of a relationship.
I’d rather be somebody’s bro than just their piece of ass.
It’s a taboo concept, being friends with the opposite sex. We’re perennially in grade school in that girls and boys still think the other has cooties, but somewhere down the line, hormones shift that and we want the cooties. It’s the kiss of death to be relegated to the friends zone, but I’m a big believer in the spark. If it’s there, the friend zone won’t happen. If the spark isn’t there, it will. Maybe you can work to change it. Maybe you can grow to like a person, but I’d rather be treated like a guy’s friend rather than a goddess to worship. Friendship is a two way street. Idolatry is lonely.
It’s easier said than done, to be fine with just friendship as a base. I’m not a serial monogamist; far from it. I am busy and I work a lot and my personal philosophy has always been, if it happens, it happens. Maybe if searching for that butterfly in the stomach feeling was more important to me, I’d feel differently. But whatever was so wrong in basing a relationship — any relationship, as all human interaction is technically a relationship at the basic definition — on liking a person or being friends or at least being friendly? Flattery shouldn’t have to get you everywhere. Being genuine is what should do the most work.
The friend zone is bullshit. Friends tell friends when they look good. They also tell them when they look like a ratchet mess. And if you value a person’s opinion, and you trust them enough to tell you the truth, that’s the kind of person with whom you want to be in a relationship.
Even if they forget to like your photo on instagram. Chances are they think you’re pretty awesome anyway.@8 months ago with 23 notes