April 6, 2023

There is Magic in Being Seen.


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Yesterday, I edited an article about how it’s never okay to make negative comments about someone else’s body.

The message seems obvious enough, but as any of us who have been in the comments section on social media know, far too many people don’t follow this age-old advice.

Toward the end of the article, the author said:

“We never truly know what someone else is going through. We could all use a little more compassion and learn to speak a little more kindly…or not speak at all.”

Her words got me thinking about all the ways our words can heal—or hurt. And more specifically, the words from others that have meant the most to me. And why they’ve stuck with me.

When I was young, my boyfriend (at the time) told me that the thing he loved most about me was my big heart. How I loved hard. How I gave my all to those I cared about.

In college, my freshman roommate (who is still my best friend) confessed to me, after a few months of getting to know each other, that when we first met she found me intimidating.

A few years ago, I was having a pretty heated discussion with someone I care about deeply and in the middle of our disagreement, he stated, “You’re such a humanitarian!” It was said as more of an accusation, but that didn’t stop me from taking it as a compliment.

The context for all these situation was so different but I know that the reason these words have stayed with me, even years later, is because of the way they made different parts of me feel seen.

The part of me that goes hard for those I care about. The part of me that comes off tough to protect the shy, quiet little girl inside. The part of me that wants to fight for others and change the world.

So often, we walk through the world trying to figure out who we are. Questioning whether we’re showing up authentically. Wondering if those around us, and those we love the most, truly see us.

Then, with a few words, with a simple compliment, we realize that those who care about us—and sometimes even complete strangers—can see exactly who we are.

And there’s a certain magic in that.

Below are 18 of the most meaningful compliments Elephant Journal readers have received, and honestly, this is the level of kindness we should all be aiming for:

“You can call yourself lucky because if you don’t have a good book at hand you just write one.” Best compliment ever from my dad.” ~ Major

I was told I was PFM (pure f*cking magic). ~ Jamie

“She has a mind that questions everything. She is naturally curious”—1st year school report card. ~ Gem

At a high school reunion many years ago, a former classmate sought me out to say thank you because I had been kind to her, and I guess not many people had been. It meant so much to her she remembered it years later. ~ Margo

That I am resilient and full of joy despite my troubles I have faced. ~ Star

I had a handyman come to do some work at my house. As he and I were talking, I apparently inspired him to get his contractors license and open his own business. About 5 years later I got a note from him and a new version of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People that I had loaned him. He thanked me for giving him the idea to reach for his goals and said that I had been an inspiration. Best note ever! ~ Kristi

I told my best friend that I feel insignificant and so unexceptional at home, not valued. I’m a different person when I travel. People think I’m interesting, I feel like someone important, my skills and knowledge are valued and I like this version of me better. He asked me if I was joking and said I was the least ordinary person he ever met. ~ Juliana

That I’m a good mom. ~ Kim

That I’m not lucky, I’m talented. Luck happens once maybe twice but when you produce consistently good work that’s talent. ~ Ruthie

When I was 12 or 13 and feeling very plain and awkward, an older man said, “You’re going to be a real heartbreaker some day.” It made me feel like a princess! I’m 82 now and have never forgotten his kindness! ~ Coretha

My son told me I did such a good job raising them and providing as a single mom that they never knew how poor we were until they were adults. ~ Diane

An ex partner telling my then new partner: “It doesn’t get any better than her.” It was a really brave, meaningful move from the ex as he was upset by the split and I’ll never forget it. ~ Tracey

I was told by a coworker that I was spiritually seasoned. ~ Melinda

One day, while at work, a woman walks in with her child, a 5-year-old kid who told me: “You look different than others.” I said: “How so?” to which she replied: “You look like yourself!” ~ Marie-Eve

A friend in grade school said she thought I was a good guesser so she trusted my hunch. That gave me the confidence to trust myself better. ~ Monica

My friend’s 6-year-old daughter told me that I made her feel safe. ~ Chaundra

I was told that I have a way of making a story come to life. ~ Julie

“You make me want to do my best.” ~ Sharma


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