I have an addiction problem.
It’s not something I talk about. But it’s a problem.
I’m addicted to compliments.
“I love your shirt.”
“Are you wearing makeup? You look so pretty.”
“You look really good today.”
“You’re so nice.”
“You’re the cutest.”
Compliments: They give me energy and confidence. They make me feel like I’m worth something.
Compliments: Especially when they’re unexpected, can completely turn my day around.
But now I’ve started living off of these compliments.
When the cute guy in my dorm said he liked my shirt, I started wearing it all the time.
When my longtime friend told me my hair looked good, I started straightening it more.
When the guy in my early morning class asked if I was wearing makeup, I decided I needed to wear it more often.
When I get so caught up in these compliments, I stop doing things for myself and start only doing things for other people’s approval.
I don’t want to be nice unless someone tells me they appreciate it.
I don’t want to do my hair unless someone tells me it looks good.
I don’t want to run half marathons unless someone tells me they’re proud of me.
Something we don’t often realize is that compliments can be too good.
They can make us arrogant, needy, and selfish.
And they’re absolutely addicting. Once we get one, we want another one. And another one. And another one. And when we’ve accumulated lots, we start thinking more highly of ourselves. And more highly. And more highly. And now we think we’re this King of The World Who Is Amazing At Everything And Who Everyone Wants To Be Like. We start carrying ourselves like this, we start assuming people should treat us this way, and we stop considering that we have any negative qualities at all. It’s great to feel uplifted and encouraged by compliments, but not so much that we get this sense of entitlement.
The more people tell me I’m kind, the more I falsely believe I’m never mean.
The more people tell me I look nice, the more I think I can wear sweatpants and look amazing.
The more people tell me I’m talented, the more I assume I can do anything flawlessly.
But there are absolutely times when I’m mean, and look disgusting, and fail. And no amount of compliments is, or should, change that.
My addiction to compliments has blown out of proportion from using social media.
I Instagram a picture and expect likes. I expect compliments. And, in a way, I start living off of them. I keep checking to make sure it’s getting likes and comments, and I want people to notice me, to think I look good in the picture, to tell me I’m awesome.
And it goes straight to my head. I get addicted and then I think more and more and more highly of myself with each new like and each new comment. I start assuming I’m better than I was before. For a while I feel high on compliments. And then a few days later I have withdrawal symptoms and start looking for ways to get more compliments. And so I use social media again.
So I’ve been imagining a new place. A new reality where I live for my own satisfaction and not the satisfaction of others. Where I don’t need a “like” on Instagram to feel pretty or a view on my Snapchat story to feel like I’m doing something cool. Where I can wear whatever clothes I want regardless of who notices. Where I can live out my own personality regardless of who comments on it. And where I can feel beautiful regardless of who calls, or doesn’t call, me pretty.
This new place abounds with love, the kind of love where the people love each other despite their apparent faults. The love that overwhelms me, encourages me, and inspires me. The kind of love that overflows with forgiveness and understanding. Because we all just want to be loved. And compliments make us feel loved. But in this new place that I imagine, these compliments do not change us for the worse but encourage us to live with greater purpose and overwhelming love. And in this new place I’m free of my addition, and so are other addicts that may not even realize they’re addicted.