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Keep Your Compliments to Yourself Please

Compliments … words most people adore. Words that make people blush. Words that make people feel good about themselves. Compliments are confidence boosters … mood lifters … reminders that we are awesome. Who wouldn’t want a compliment from time to time?

Well, I’ll tell you who … me!

We all have dreams, or at least I hope we all do. Some dream of financial stability, having a family, becoming famous, happiness, etc. Even if those dreams are as tiny as just passing an exam (says the girl just finishing up finals week … and possibly pulling out her hair), when those dreams come true there is nothing in the world more exciting.

Dreams that come true equal success.

Success equals happiness, right?

I promised I would confess what it’s like being bipolar and being in the spotlight … it’s not like me to break promises. Being in the spotlight involves all of the above … happiness, success, dreams come true and with those come compliments. And just as one gets compliments, they also get criticism. So which do you pay attention to the most?

Me?

I cling to the criticism. I’ve had around 50 reviews on my novel, Fall Girl. So, which reviews stick with me? Not the ones that tell me how much the person loved the book, how fast they read it, how it touched them and how it was just like what their lives were/are like. Nope, the ones that stick with me are the ones that say there’s too much cursing, too much teenage sex talk, too much underage drinking, not enough description of bipolar disorder, too many grammatical errors … the compliments sneak under the carpet and remain hidden while the criticism parades in front of me like a large, off key marching band. The dislike of a part of my soul, a part of my being, screams at me and tells me how unworthy I am and how I need to do better.

The assumption would be, at this point, that more people hated my book than loved it, but the fact is, it’s the exact opposite. Poor reviews account for about 10% of the reviews. And some of the issues people mentioned, I already took care of in future editions. Still, all I can focus on is the 10%.

As fellow bipolaree’s, I’m sure everyone is saying that this isn’t surprising. We all focus on the bad more than the good, don’t we? Well … that’s not really my issue. Cognitively, I know the poor reviews are either learning tools or people who don’t understand what I’m trying to say. Cognitively, I know the compliments far outweigh the criticism. BUT no matter how much I cognitively know these things, I still focus on the bad.

Same for my website. Same for my good grades in college. Same for my beautiful family. Same for my writing on bipolar websites. Same for my parenting skills. Same for how fast I run. Same for my musical talents. Same for my writing talents. Same for this good and that good and every good thing about me.

I hate to hear about every one of those things.

I hate compliments. I hate confidence boosters. I hate reassurance.

Why?

Am I ungrateful? Am I full of disbelief? Am I just freaking ridiculous? Possibly the last one … BUT

Compliments of any sort cause me to feel guilty.

Crap, did I just hear that game show buzzer signaling how wrong that answer is? Stupid buzzer!

This is exactly what it’s like for me in the spotlight. Any spotlight. I love helping people. I love teaching others about mental illness. I love making people laugh. I love giving my dad goose bumps when I sing. I’m proud of these accomplishments. I’m proud to be a good writer, mother, student, wife … I really am. But if I admit these things to myself, if I say it out loud (you know, kinda like I just did, but with text instead of voice) if I admit that I might actually be kinda awesome … I feel like an arse. I feel conceited. I feel egotistical. I feel self centered. I feel like being proud of these accomplishments takes away from WHY I do these things.

I don’t write, sing, parent, get good grades, kick butt as a wife, etc for the recognition. I do it for me. I do it to prove to myself that I’m not a failure. I do it because I NEED to. I can’t really explain it, but it is what it is.

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