My husband came home one night and said he had a TL for me. (Long story short a TL is a compliment someone has for you that he heard from someone else. I am supposed to give him a TL back before he can tell me my compliment. The TL ritual goes way back to my childhood and I think it stands for Trading Lies.)
Before Chad could give me my compliment I said, “Please don’t tell me someone told you how organized I am or how creative I am. Please tell me someone said I was kind or understanding or funny.”
Chad started laughing because he was about to grant my request in an unexpected way.
Then he gave me my TL: “The front desk helper at work said you were HOT!” We both were laughing at this point because this is a compliment I haven’t heard for years, if ever. I guess sunglasses, long hair and great lighting can play tricks on anyone.
(I have yet to go back to Chad’s office because I don’t want the truth to come out:)
But do you ever feel the way I did? Where you are bored with your own strengths? Where you want different talents? Where you want to take off your own labels and rewrite them? Where we hope to be something more than we are?
I know it sounds selfish to begrudge or discount strengths, but on that day I just wanted to be seen for the smaller, subtler, less visible parts of my character. I wanted someone to notice that I am just not organized and creative. I am more.
I don’t have some profound conclusion.
I guess this is a reminder for me to make sure I don’t put strong labels on my kids’ talents either. I want them to know I see their whole character not just the parts that shine brightest. And I want them to value the subtler, less recognizable traits as just as valuable and just as important as the big guns.
Also, if I want people to see past my boldest talents, I need to look past theirs as well—and tell them so. The awesome singer might also be a good listener. The talented photographer might also be optimistic. The fashion designer may be patient. The amazing dancer may be compassionate. And the creative blogger just might be hot!