She waves me over and I don't have the heart to pretend I didn't see her. So I stay and listen to what she has to say.
Girl: Hi you're one of those Muslim girls aren't you?
Me: Um, yeah.
Girl: Wow you're so pretty.
Girl: I have a great deal for you today. How would you like these high end perfumes normally totalling over $400 for only $100?
And.... I'm going to cut that flashback short because what I wanted to talk about today was when she called me pretty. I'm not going to lie, I am conscious of my looks ever since I was younger. When I was a little kid, I was really round. It really hurt my self-esteem and although I am no longer that little fat girl today... I get pretty uncomfortable when people say anything about my looks. But I get extremely uncomfortable when strangers give me compliments.
I've always thought that when a stranger gives you a compliment, that compliment is a genuine one. It's a compliment that wasn't given with a preconceived notion of you. It wasn't a compliment given to you in sympathy because they remembered how awful they were to you when they were kids and this compliment will make up for all that nastiness. But that encounter with the promo girl just opened my eyes to strangers' compliments.
You will meet at least two types of strangers' compliments: genuine compliments and compliments given for their own gain.
What is a genuine compliment?
This is usually given in random settings, be it on a train, on the street, places you least expect it. I say random because these compliments are given with absolutely no context. For example, you are standing on a train and a passerby says: "that's a really nice jacket you're wearing".
So compliments for one's own gain?
These have their own subset: compliments from those who want to make themselves feel better and compliments from those who want to manipulate you for their own gain.
Also within this, there are the truthful ones and the lies.
To be honest, I've given compliments and enjoy it. I make a mental note to be nice to people because I have a bit of an icy, emotionless exterior. And people will like you more if you give compliments. I know I do! I don't see anything wrong with this one. Two people are happy at the end of it. Hurray! But you have to be careful with this one. If you're giving a compliment just for the sake of giving one, make sure they're truthful ones. You don't want it to backfire when you tell an exaggerated one... or a lie.
Those, like the promo girl who give you a compliment to lure you in. This is probably what all sales people do and I am a sucker for it. When these people give you compliments, it makes you question whether they're being genuine or not. 'She called me pretty, but she's just saying that so that I like her and then buy her perfumes. She's lying. I am actually ugly.' Ever had thoughts like that? When it makes you question every single thing in the universe and then makes you write a blog about it? (LOL)
These compliments are terrible, because they are intentional and it's even worse when they are also LIES. But you know what? They don't hurt as much when you know where these compliments are coming from. In my case, I knew she was trying to sell me something, and through that, I see that it's her job and she probably doesn't give a damn what I look like. And therefore, I shouldn't give a damn about whether or not I am pretty or hideous. You will see those compliments as EMPTY WORDS. Empty words can't hurt you.
As for the compliments given by people for personal gain such as social climbers, maybe like the almost-popular person at school, or politicians... think of it this way. They give out these compliments without any thought or emotion... so why should you give these compliments thought or emotion?
In the end, a compliment is a compliment. This ain't no Mean Girls. Take each compliment lightly. They're MEANT to make you feel good. And don't you dare let yourself think that these happy emotions are fake if the compliment is fake. Don't you let yourself think you don't deserve to be happy. BE CONFIDENT in who you are and I'm pretty sure the trivial things won't bother you.