You Wish To Be A little Taller? I Got You Covered!

People don’t realize the daily power they have to make others happy. All it takes is a few kind words, delivered without expectation. It’s not much, honestly. Giving someone a compliment or slight encouragement is the one thing any of us can do, at any time. It’s free, it’s easy, and, boy, can it do the world wonders.

For some reason, I’ve always felt uncomfortable talking to strangers in any capacity. I’m the type of guy who will mentally rehearse his dinner order at a restaurant until I have to say it out loud to the server. Don’t fuck this up, Patrick! You. Have. One. Shot. DON’T FUCK THIS UP!! Nine times out of ten, I stutter or stumble over my words and everything goes to shit, but who’s counting? (Me.)

I’m getting better at it now because, frankly, it’s my job. I’ve been honing my social skills and public-speaking abilities over the past three years due to the industry I find myself in. It has thrust me into situations that have ripped me out of my comfort zone and taught me confidence. I meet countless people who do every job imaginable, so in a way, my life is like one giant speed-dating session and, whether I like it or not, I’m deathly single. I have to meet them all because who knows if I’ll find a match made in work heaven! (I don’t think I’m making sense or am even close to a metaphor at this point, so . . . LET’S MOVE ON.)

The other day I was out and about with a few friends, walking downtown in Kigali, browsing shops and store windows, as we do. A group of girls was walking toward us in the opposite direction, and I quickly noticed how cool one of them looked. She had this cute, short haircut that still maintained some waves, and she wore baggy jeans with a tucked-in, white graphic tee, complete with a pair of round, peach-colored sunglasses. My description doesn’t do her outfit justice, but she was cute as hell and everyone could tell.

Now, I could do one of two things here: 1) not say a thing, or 2) say a thing. It’s simple. Those were my options. I’m willing to bet most people would go with option one and move along, perhaps feeling a slight twinge of regret for not having the guts to say something. I used to be that way, but with practice, I now adopt the “why not?” attitude. What’s so hard about telling people they look great? (In the least “I’m hitting on you” way possible, of course.) If done correctly, with sincerity and no weirdness intended, nothing can go wrong.

As this girl approached us, I made eye contact, smiled, and spoke up. “Hey, you’re killing it. You look great!”

She looked surprised. “Oh, thank you?!” she said, as if no one had ever paid her a compliment before (which I highly doubt because style like that could NOT be an accident). I continued smiling, nodded in acknowledgment of her response, and kept walking on with my friends.

I thought something, and wasn’t going to hold back from sharing that honest thought. In doing so, it actually left me feeling like a million bucks, and, judging by the look on her face, she felt a similar sensation of giddiness. It felt good to make someone else feel good about herself. Apparently, the giving and receiving of a compliment has mutual benefits. Who knew?

In a world that appears to indulge in negativity, I find we need to do our best to share the good. Too many shows, blogs, and newspapers spew pessimism, seemingly dedicated to tearing people down and picking them apart, piece by piece, until there’s nothing left. This horribly judgmental trend has no point, save for spite and harm. You merely have to flick through magazines or scroll through the online entertainment sites to observe how people’s fashion, hair, bodies, and even personalities are being dissected for commentary. Spend five minutes on Twitter and you’ll see a constant stream of pointless, vitriolic trolling every time you refresh your feed.

It’s sad. It’s sad to me when it’s not even about me. Rarely does anyone have anything nice to say anymore. It’s a playground of sore shut-ins bitching and gossiping, where people drag others down for their own twisted entertainment. And the danger of this online activity is that it spills over into real life. You can’t fake hatred like that. Thankfully, good people do exist, even if most of them are not known to the wider public and live their lives under the radar.

We have enough badness in the real world without adding to it in the virtual one, and we need to remember that we’re capable of projecting goodness. We need to spread love, kindness, and empathy to the masses. At the end of the day, we’re all humans, with hang-ups and unknown struggles and insecurities we face daily, silently. Think about that, and be aware that we are all this way. It’s not just you and not just me. Everyone has baggage. Pause for a second and think of something nice to say instead of indulging in pointless negativity.

So, next time you see someone who’s wearing something cool or dope or unique, or maybe got a new haircut or hair color, acknowledge it. Show that you noticed it in the way the person wanted to be noticed, be it a friend, relative, or total stranger. I’m not sure there’s anything better than being noticed. And you watch: the more you do it, the more the kindness will spread out like a ripple. Trust me on this: you’ll walk a little taller for simply speaking up, no strings attached, no ifs, ands, or buts.


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