Kat Atwell is a freelance writer, blogger & stage presence telling stories that deliver laughs, validation & community.

Mental Health | Wellness & Self Image | Experiential & Reviews

I Believe You.

Ever since I started working in customer service (several hundred years ago), I have really honored the power of a solid, “You’re welcome.” To me, it credits the person who has thanked you by letting them know their appreciation was noted. It’s always made me feel good to say it, because I don’t like letting thank yous go unnoticed. I like making sure my compliments are heard.

I was unprepared to hear that I needed to work on my own thank yous. I’ve never been remiss in thanking someone for an act of service, and I think I do that pretty effortlessly. However, it was brought to my attention that I’ve spent the majority of my adult life not allowing myself the time to truly accept compliments. Acts of service, yes. Sincere compliments, no.

Insert a big paragraph about self-love and self-worth here. ← That’s a cop-out. It’s snarky humor that belittles me. So, screw that. I’ll write it out.

I have the self-loathing that hides. It chips away at my happiness nearly constantly. It’s like that drippy faucet that has been broken for so long that you don’t hear the water any more. I’m going through a tremendous time of change right now with self-acceptance. It is extremely uncomfortable, but wildly eye-opening and totally worth it.

My career coach, Chrysta, asked me to tell her how my friends would describe me. I stammered through my response vaguely and without a whole lot of detail. She then asked me to tell her how I thought she saw me. That was so, so awkward. I think that pretty much every sentence that came out of my mouth included the phrase, “I hope…”

I hope you see me as a kind person. I hope you know I’m a good friend. I hope you think I’m funny…and on, and on.

She then told me what she saw. And I was embarrassed and felt really naked. She was so kind. I told her so, and she said she wasn’t being kind, she was being honest. I’ve taken the vast majority of compliments given to me as acts of kindness, rather than … well, rather than something else. Legitimate opinions? Something indisputable, because it’s not based on right or wrong? I dunno.

I was challenged, when on the receiving end of a compliment, to respond with this: Thank you. I believe you.

If you think it sounds ridiculous, you should try it. It is HARD, especially if you didn’t realize just how much confidence you lacked. I dare you to try it.

At first, my “I believe you”s sounded sarcastic and self-deprecating — a lot of them still do, if I’m being honest. It’s hard to take something as a compliment when your ego doesn’t want you to hear it. However, more than a few “I believe you”s have been said with sincerity in the past couple days. This exercise is teaching me to accept and acknowledge compliments, rather than merely hear them.

On Tuesday night, Sam Escobar launched this humongous body positivity movement on their twitter feed. It was stunning. Watching people post pictures of themselves and seeing people give them love and support without judgment took my breath away. And yeah, I did post my own picture. And lots of people liked it. And I think, had I not started the “I believe you” exercise last week, I probably would have shrugged off a lot of that love. I didn’t this time.

It was amazing.

In closing, I’ll say this: I’m learning to be gracious. You’re more than welcome to help me if you want to. I want to believe more people, because by believing others, I’m learning to believe in myself, which is unbelievable.

Now the word “believe” looks weird. I’m OK with that.

The struggle is real.