Over my 35+ years, many people have graciously said all kinds of nice things to me. Things like, “You look pretty today” or “I love your scarf” or, more recently, ” I really like your writing.” That’s one of my favourites. I also love, “Thank you for helping me”, not because I thrive on that acknowledgement, but because it is nice to know that I was there for someone when they needed it. That means the world to me.
I don’t usually hold up a compliment for too long when I get one. I usually savour it for a few sweet moments, then store them deep inside in a little gratitude box in my heart. I don’t wear them loudly, but I never discard them either. I go back to them when I need to, but usually they stay safely tucked away, never to be lost.
But there is one that keeps bubbling back up – one I can’t just tuck away. It gives me a secret thrill every time.
Several years ago, just when I was starting to think about cracking the shell around me to let a little light in – or rather, to let a little light out – I met someone named Andy. Since then, Andy has become a good friend, but I’ll never ever forget what he said to me the first time we met.
Andy: So, what do you do?
Me: I’m a banker
Andy: Really? I thought you were an artist.
He thought I was an artist.
Oh, those words still ring like sweet music in my ears. All the validation I had secretly desired hitting me in the face like a fastball from someone I’d known for 60 seconds.
I’m still not quite sure what it was that gave him that impression. Was it my *ahem* artsy blue jeans and sailor sweater? My perfectly flat-ironed hair? Was it because I was with Stu, who would only hanging out with an artist, and not with a square banker type like me?
I asked Andy about it later, and he said, “I don’t know. You just look like an artist.”
I looked like an artist. I have been waiting my whole life for someone to say that to me. Because of course, once I looked like an artist, then I could finally be an artist.
Silly, silly, Fahrin.
In my mind, if I looked like an artist, that meant that I would actually be an artist. Of course, now I know that if I just made art, I would be an artist. And then, whatever I looked like is what an artist would look like. Duh.
But even though I know this, I still fall back into my old habits from time to time. My bestie and I visited the One Of A Kind Show in town this season, and I bought a beautiful knit headband. I turned to her to ask her how it looked.
“You look like an artist.”