Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Nice words

Recently I've been doing a lot of browsing through blogs and managed to stumble across the wonderful Awash with Wonder. I've spent probably more time than is healthy reading this blog but in particular I was inspired by this post  which talks about the nice things that people have said to Shannon. Reading this post made me want to tell a little story about the nicest compliment that has ever been given to me. This post is a little different from most that have come before so feedback is always welcome and of course I'd be delighted to hear your stories in return.


The nicest words that have ever been given to me weren't spoken but written.

When I was eighteen years old I had a part time job in an Italian restaurant. At that age most of my time was spent daydreaming about living in Italy, speaking the wonderful language and eating ALL the pasta. It is therefore clear that this job fitted my interests well.

My waitressing skills left much to be desired. I spilled food on people often, smashed more plates than I care to admit and once even accidentally stabbed a customer with a steak knife. My ineptitude at the job didn't deter me from adoring my time spent in that restaurant though. 

Adrenaline would surge through me as I ran from table to kitchen and back again to the tables, with hardly enough time to breathe let alone think clearly. I would revel in the smell of the pasta, pizza and calamari that was served up to the customers. Listening to the frenetic, loud Italian chatter of my colleagues it was easy to imagine that at the end of the night the doors of the restaurant would lead out onto colourful and lively Italian streets instead of onto the grey, familiar streets of my hometown which I so desperately sought escape from at that age.


Outside of my work at the restaurant I was struggling with the transition from school to university. Despite (even to this day) being convinced that what I desire in life is more freedom, I actually operate best under a system of routine and purpose, neither of which was core to my initial university experience.

To compound the feelings of uncertainty with the direction my life was moving in, the parties and constant drinking that tends to go hand in hand with university life left me feeling underwhelmed. None of the activities that others seemed to take such pleasure in held that much interest for me. I was left feeling like a shadow, lurking on the outside of the group. Shadows are noticed from time to time but they don't really contribute anything and they disappear unnoticed as soon as the light changes. 

Perhaps about six months into the painful transition into university student I decided to leave the restaurant for a new job which wouldn't require me to work until late at night every weekend. This was no doubt fuelled by a desire to attend all of the parties that didn't hold much enjoyment for me in order to avoid feeling further left out. 


At the end of a final, busy shift in that restaurant I rested at the bar, untying my black apron and shifting my weight from side to side to ease the pain in my weary feet. My boss walked towards me and, as usual, he handed me a small envelope which contained my tips for that week. I took it gratefully from him and then looked down at it. On the front was written.

'You brought the joy here'.


To be told that you have made a positive contribution to the experience of others simply by your presence is an incredible compliment to be given. It didn't refer towards my outward appearance or to a specific talent or quality that I possessed. Instead it told me that I had made others feel happy and was the exact compliment that I needed at that time. 

It's often easier to hold on to the negative words that people give you but I think that trying hard to recall the nice ones is hugely important. I like to think about this specific compliment from time to time because it reminds me that, no matter how insignificant I may feel at times in this big world, there are people who are hugely impacted by my existence whether I'm aware of it or not. It is my responsibility to make those impacts as positive as possible.

What's the nicest compliment you've received?


  1. This is such an inspiring post!!! Thanks for sharing this :)
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    1. Thank you for your comment! Glad you enjoyed the post :)