Somewhere between the olive bar and the cheese counter at Whole Foods recently, I ran into an acquaintance whom I've always admired. Following a friendly greeting, she raved, "I loved that article you wrote about struggling to get into shape for your wedding! It was hilarious."
I waved off the compliment with my hand. "Oh, that? That was just kind of silly." I inflated my cheeks until they were round. "Apparently, it didn't stick."
She tried again. "But you always look great."
My brain told me to accept the compliment gracefully and move on, but I couldn't control myself. I smiled, leaning in conspiratorially. "That's what a lot of makeup, a professional photographer, and a little airbrushing can do for you. If they can make someone like Larry King look alive, they can do anything, right?"
She laughed awkwardly. There was a brief but tangible silence. The exchange culminated in a promise of lunch plans that felt unlikely at best.
As I continued on my search for the perfect goat brie, I was distracted by the sense that I'd somehow disappointed her and maybe myself. Instead of accepting her praise, I'd felt the need to make self-deprecating jokes. Why?
Read more about why self-deprecation damages self-esteem.
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