May 11, 2022

Why the Best Gift we can give is a Heartfelt Compliment—& 10 Unique Ones to Share.


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I’m sure you’re thinking, “So giving compliments is the best gift ever? Really, Roopa? How cheap are you?”

But bear with me. This story idea came about because a dear friend of mine recently emailed me to say, “Roop, you know what you should write about for Elephant? How about the weird and unique compliments you pay your friends?”

I get many of these emails and messages from friends and family who will tell me a funny story, a comment, a snarky retort someone made, a weird event, or a spooky anecdote, and then, with a nudge and a wink, suggest I write about it for my weekly column. And if the stories are interesting, I jot them down, and many times, I do use them.

So, when this friend suggested I write about the bespoke compliments I often give my friends and family, I perked up and realized this was a terrific idea. I’ve always tried to be specific when I compliment those who mean something to me. I take existing, popular compliments in the universe, tweak them, and personalize them for whoever I’m addressing. And my dearest friends and family love them.

I’m currently doing more of this than ever before. And that’s because, since my big tragedy in December 2020, I’m determined to do two things:

1. Cut unnecessary negativity from my life. If someone is mean to me, I give them multiple chances to change. If they choose not to, I simply close the door on them and walk away.

2. Appreciate those who are kind to me. When people treat me right, I try and let them know just how much they mean to me.

So, here are the top 10 custom-made compliments that I’ve given my friends and family. Let me know what you think, and please share the unique compliments you’ve given your loved ones in the comments.

1. You’re more important to me than pizza.

I’ve used this on at least two different people. One is just a gentle and beautiful soul who seems to find the best in everyone. She is my go-to for whenever life sucks every bit of life and happiness out of me and I need a pick-me-up. And the second friend is a dynamo who epitomizes fun. I’ve spent many happy and peaceful times with both of these people in my life.

2. I’d rather be considered an idiot with you than looked up to as Einstein with anyone else.

I said this to a specific someone who many of our mutual friends and acquaintances don’t really like. This friend can be snarky, has a biting sense of humor, is sharper than a knife, and will call you out on your BS. So, one needs to always be on their toes with him, hence, there are many who find him exhausting. But I like him. He challenges me unlike any other, and every time I’m with him, I end up learning something new. Both of us now live by the motto, “If a room is full of people who agree with everything you say, you need to leave the room and find a new one.”

3. You have an uncanny ability to spot my demons, but instead of walking away, you hold my hand and help me dropkick them out of my life.

I came up with this compliment for a couple of people who, since my tragedy (and unlike close family members), have sat with me across the proverbial seven seas on Zoom, helped me dig up my demons, and worked with me to get rid of them. I’ve yet to pay this compliment to two incredible women in my life, but I’ll do it when the moment is just right.

4. I can roll on the floor with you and laugh at unfunny jokes, and then defend my dissertation with you in the audience eyeballing me, helping, me, and supporting me during those 90 minutes of complete torture to let me know I’m okay. And I was.

I’ve given versions of this compliment to more than a few people in my life. These are folks who will get drunk, laugh over bawdy jokes and do the down ‘n’ dirty with you, be your comrade-in-arms when you watch the most serious movie, and then burst out laughing with you during the saddest of scenes without any judgment. And then they will be your silent support during the hardest times in your life, like the two friends who showed up and were rock solid during my PhD dissertation defense.

5. Instead of claiming you’re more feminist than most women, you say this when you toast your wife on your anniversary, “Here’s to the husband of the most incredible woman in the world!” You’re the male ally I and the women in my sisterhood need and deserve.

This toast actually happened. My friend’s father said this to her mother on their wedding anniversary, and so I borrow it (with her permission) and now say it to my male friends (three so far), who are incredibly supportive of women and the cause of feminism.

6. Cloning you is impossible. Trust me. I would know—I’ve tried, and failed.

This compliment is reserved for the nicest people in my life. They don’t have to be my best friends, but when someone does me a solid, I tell them this and watch as they beam in delight.

7. You make time fly when I need to vent, and then make it slower than a tortoise when we have fun.

I’ve said this to many loved ones over the past few years who have listened to me one day and then shared happy, fun-filled times with me the next.

8. I’d say I’m addicted to you, but there is such a negative connotation to that word. So, I’ll say…oh, f*ck it. I’m addicted to you—to your positivity, your grace, and your fierceness.

I’ll be honest, I don’t have a lot of these people in my life. My friends, for the most part, are loveable rascals. We all have our positive and negative sides. There are times we hope for only good things for others, and other times when we wish the sky would fall on those we hate. But every once in a while, I’ll come across a completely pure soul and become addicted to their kindness. This one is for them.

9. I admire you, not because you do the New York Times crossword puzzle in ink or actually understand James Joyce. But because you still watch “Keeping up with the Kardashians” with me.

I have a PhD. I also love the Kardashians…and Top Chef…and Project Runway. Sorry, so not sorry. I have a smart side and a vapid side. I can sound intelligent and act like a complete fool, depending on what day of the week it is and what side of the bed I woke up on. So, when I find people like me, I hold onto them and never let go. And I have to say, I’m lucky to have more than a few amazeballs people in my life with whom I’ve used this compliment before.

10. You epitomize the phrase “kill them with kindness.” That’s why you’re who I’d want to be with if there is a zombie apocalypse. Because you’d make friends with the killers and then save me first.

I said this to one of my kindest family members after my tragedy in December 2020. This person made me believe that family can truly come through and show up when other close family members had dumped me without so much as a by-your-leave. This person made me believe in the power of love and family again.

I hope, if nothing else, this article brought a smile to your face. I have experienced so much love and support and camaraderie from total strangers on Elephant than any other platform I’ve ever written for. And while I’m trying to come up with a perfectly wonderful, bespoke compliment for all of you, in the meantime, I wish you the following: lots and lots of love, happiness, mental peace, wine—white or red—and pizza. Especially, pizza.

So, what do you guys think? Did any of these compliments speak to you? Do you have your own personal complimenting style with your loved ones? Let me know in the comments!


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