What I Like About You

Fifteen years ago, I was at a particularly low point in my life. I was living in Boulder, Colorado, trying to fit back together all the broken pieces of myself. I was fearful and unsure of the future, but then, an evening out with a few close friends changed everything.

The three of us were sitting on a huge rock in a park at dusk. My friend Jeff, a psychology major, suggested we play a game. “Let’s take turns describing everything we like about each other.”

Although I was reluctant at first, it turned out to be fun. I enjoyed listing all the things–silly and significant–that I liked about my cronies.  But when the spotlight turned on me, I shrank into myself. I was in such a bad place I couldn’t imagine them finding anything good to say about me.

“I love your fierceness,” began Jeff, drawing out the word “fierceness” dramatically. “You are f-i-e-r-c-e in mind, body, and spirit.”

“I like that you don’t do something just because everyone else does it,” said Chris. “And that you always say what’s on your mind. You don’t hold back.”

“Yeah, I like that too,” added Jeff. “I always know where I stand with you.”

I was stunned. “Really?” I asked. “Those are good things?”

I was bewildered, because I’d been telling myself the story that I was too intense, too opinionated, just . . . too much. “Those are the very things I dislike about myself and am trying to change,” I told my friends.

My comment hung in the air for a moment, and then Jeff said gently, “But those are the very things that make you who you are. Those are the things that make you wonderful.”

Sometimes it’s hard to see yourself–especially the best, most wonderful parts of yourself–clearly. It is like trying to look at the back of your head with only one mirror, an impossible feat. Often, the best you can do is cobble together an idea of yourself from the opinions and views of others. Unfortunately, their eyesight might be clouded by their own agendas, jealousies, or issues that have nothing to do with who you are. Sometimes you need someone you trust to hold a hand mirror in just the right spot so you can get a clear view. Sometimes you need someone with your best interests in mind to tell you all the things they like about you.

Lately, I’ve started playing my own version of Jeff’s “What I Like About You” game. I began with my mother. “I like that you have an elegantly eclectic sense of style, that you have tons of interests that you pursue, that you read several library books at once and get lost listening to books on tapes while driving, and that you keep four boxes of graham crackers in your cupboard just because you like them.”

“Keep going,” she told me, settling back in her chair to listen.

I left a list on my older daughter’s desk of all her magical traits, and I made a point of telling my younger that I adore her freckled nose and that she taught herself to tie flies. I texted my husband that he is an amazing father, and I told our favorite checkout girl at the market around the corner that I love her happy bright spirit.

I’ve even begun to play the game with strangers. I’ll tell someone that they smell good or that they have pretty hair.  Or if a younger person displays surprisingly good manners, I tell them how much I appreciate their politeness. Often the compliment recipient looks at me like I’m a bit odd and scurries away as quickly as possible. I choose to think that they are just so surprised at their sudden reflection in the mirror that they needed some time to adjust to the view, and to enjoy what they see.

Because, as I learned so long ago, when the mirror is held just right and you get a clear shot of what you really look like, you never view yourself the same way again. Discovering what others like about us allows us to learn to like ourselves. And when we like ourselves, it is a whole lot easier to like others. It’s a game that comes full circle.

What I like about you. Play it today.

About flyingnotscreaming

My weekly quotes and "Notes from Flights" are my attempt to learn how to soar through life's unknowns with grace and gratitude. Thank you for flying with me. --Melissa Myers Place, writer, reader, massage therapist, mother, wife, and daughter
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4 Responses to What I Like About You

  1. Mary Ann Foust says:

    You were so fortunate 15 years ago to have “Real” friends Melissa. Like the “Velveteen Rabbit” they brought you back to the Reality of yourself and Life.
    I have been fortunate to have your wonderful Mom as a loving and Real Friend who bolsters me in tough times and brings me back to who I am.
    And you are Right On—-God then asks us to pass that on to others—– to give them the Gift of Themselves!!!
    Love your Blog!! Mary Ann

  2. Mary Hirsch says:

    Melissa, I love playing the “What I Like About You” game with you and your family. What do I Like About You? Well, Everything. Plus the fact that you really think that none of us know where you hide your secret stash of chocolate peanut butter cups! Mom

  3. Paige Stormzand says:

    This is terrific Melissa I love the idea and I love how you wrote it. 🙂

    I’m gonna start playing it today!

  4. Lynn Burgoyne says:

    What I like about you…Your energetic, creative spirit that overflows with goodness, kindness, resourcefulness, courage, generosity and strength. AND… you are a pretty awesome writer! Just to name a few!

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