I was reading an article about southern women today and I realized something interesting.
My father is from Tulsa, Oklahoma, and my mother is from southern California, and the girl I modeled my social skills on in high school was an army brat from (mostly) Texas. I was raised in Indiana in the woods, like a savage, but while my accent is that of a hoosier, my manners are not.
I quite often compliment my friends, and the folks around me. If you’ve ever been a clerk at a grocery store that’s helped me, or a barista who made my drink, you’ve probably felt the sweet side of my tongue. But here’s the thing- I don’t give false compliments. I look for something about you I can honestly enjoy, and I tell you about it. As simple as that. If I know you well, you’ll get compliments that are deeper and more to the heart. If I’ve just met you it might be on the order of your pretty earrings, or the color of your shirt. But there’s nothing, I’ve realized, keeping me from being nice, except the fear we all have to show weakness to someone who might hurt you. Well I have made my sweetness into strength, my borrowed southern manners into a face I’m willing to show to a stranger I just met. It’s weird to some of my northern brethren (which, honestly to say, I am one of) but this sweet smile has opened more doors than any number of polite nods or grouchy frowns. People who don’t know me well wonder if this is all an act, false smile, false compliments… I can’t say that I never cry, or frown, or gaze off with a thousand-yard stare, but I make a concerted effort to make the decision to be as positive as I can. Which, frankly, most days, is pretty damn sunny!