Let’s Talk About Gifts (and not the ones you open)

posted by Andrea | 10/31/2016
Print pageEmail page

gifts

This time of year, we often talk a lot about GIFTS — what we want, what others want, what we bought, how we’ll wrap them, what gifts we need for which party, etc. etc.

Yes, I love birthday and Christmas gifts too… but today, I want to talk about a different type of gift. 

red gift

If someone asked you what YOUR personal gifts and talents were, would you be able to answer them? Or would you awkwardly fumble around for the right words, and say something like, “Oh, I guess I’m a decent _______ (mom, friend, writer, teacher, accountant).” and then change the subject?

In my experience talking with other women, we regularly underestimate ourselves, our talents, and our gifts… to the point where we actually feel bad saying anything positive about our own abilities.

In fact, I’ve noticed that almost any time I give another female a compliment, they immediately send a compliment back my way — as if simply saying “thank you” and accepting it graciously is too awkward for them.

We (myself included) are much quicker to apologize for a potential weakness or bring attention to something we struggle with than take praise and appreciation for something we’re really good at… right?

green gift

Did you know that up until recently, I never considered ‘writing’ to be one of MY gifts?

For the past 6 years, I’ve made a part-time or full-time income from my written words… yet when a stranger stopped me a few months ago and told me that my “gift of writing” had blessed her every day for the past several years, I was completely caught off guard.

I smiled and was just about to blurt out something about how I know I have too many typos in my posts or that I have no training as a writer… but thankfully I stopped myself and just said, “thanks, I really enjoy writing for my blog”. 

yellow gift

Ever since that day this summer, I’ve continued to think about my “gift” of writing… and you know what I realized? I realized that although I am not the most polished or eloquent or sophisticated writer around, I’m really good at writing in a simple yet succinct manner that seems to relate to SO many people.

I have the ability to organize my thoughts in a way that makes my words easy to read (or so I’m told), and I always try to get my point across quickly, with a straightforward, no-nonsense approach that (I think) helps me feel more relatable and “real”.

Also, I have ALWAYS enjoyed writing.

I kept numerous journals, notebooks, and “diaries” from elementary school all the way through college. I often wrote daily as it was so therapeutic for me. When I was mad, I wrote. When I was excited, I wrote. When I was heartbroken, I wrote.

It wasn’t until I started my blog back in 2010, that I actually wrote something anyone else would read… and now I make a living writing!

Although I don’t have any formal training as a writer, I do have almost 2000 published blog posts, a full-time income writing for a growing readership, and several passed up opportunities to write an actual book!

Certainly writing must be one of my gifts.

I don’t say this to toot my own horn — but rather, to show that our gifts and talents are often hidden from our own eyes, either because we’re too apprehensive to draw attention to our strengths or because we don’t even recognize our strengths as “gifts”.

As I mentioned above, I think this is especially true of women. We blow off our gifts as “hobbies” or “volunteer work” or “just something we enjoy doing” but we don’t actually acknowledge our gifts as something valuable or useful, especially if we don’t make money doing it.

blue gift

Have you ever stopped to really think about the things you are good at, the activities you enjoy doing, and the gifts you are blessed with?

If not, I would love for you to do 3 things for me.

1. Make a list (mental or physical) of at least 10 of YOUR gifts. 

Maybe you have the gift of music.

Maybe you have the gift of public speaking.

Maybe you make the best cheesecakes around.

Maybe you are a frugal fashionista who all your friends turn to for affordable style.

And speaking of friends… maybe you have the gift of friendship, encouragement, or a good listening ear.

Maybe you have the gift of a green thumb and can share your bounty with others in your community.

Maybe you have the gift of amazing time management to keep your busy home, family, and work lives running smoothly at all times.

.

2. Find a way to use at least one of your gifts. 

What good is it to have a laundry list of gifts if we’re not going to use them? This doesn’t have to be a huge time commitement either.

If you enjoy cooking or baking, make a double batch and bring some to a friend or neighbor.

If you like doing crafts with your kids, have them draw, color, or paint pictures and mail them to elderly people from church or in your community.

If you have a nice camera and a good eye, offer to take family pictures for your friends’ families.

If you have more money than time, donate funds to support a local charity or fundraiser.

If you’re a natural party planner, offer to coordinate the holiday festivities for your extended family.

If you are an amazing couponer, donate some of your surplus to women’s shelters, food banks, or foster care services.

.

3. Stop apologizing for yourself. 

When someone compliments your smile, your outfit, your well-behaved children, your beautiful home, your nicely manicured yard, your ability to effortlessly manage working full-time and being a full-time mom, your promotion, or your lovely family photo, just smile and say “Thank you!” 

Don’t feel the need to immediately shoot a forced compliment their way, or (worse) to say something negative about yourself.

We aren’t doing ourselves any favors by overlooking, undervaluing, or criticizing ourselves or our gifts — not to mention we’re setting a horrible example for our children and grandchildren.

So… what are YOUR gifts?

orange gift

photo source

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Filed under: LifeWorkMisc.

 
 

Leave a comment

27 comments

  1. Olga

    11/01/2016

    Oh, sister, as always you are right on point! 🙂 Thanks for this post.
    My gift, I think, is listening and because of this and trustworthiness, I make friendships easily. However, besides my husband, I don’t think I have any real friends.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha 🙂 I wish I was a better listener — that’s a great gift to have.
    Also, I can relate to my husband being one of only a few true friends (and I think we are lucky that we would consider our husbands to be our friends). I have lots of acquaintances and friendships but, to be perfectly honest, I don’t have the desired to devote the necessary time or energy required to maintain lots of friendships outside my marriage and my extended family members. Maybe this sounds awful, but it’s the truth.

    [Reply]

  2. Carrie

    10/31/2016

    I am so very guilty of not accepting compliments or looking at my gifts as actual gifts. Thank you for this post! We could all use a little reminder to look at ourselves in a more positive way and use our gifts to bless others. I know I could, and thanks to this post, I will!

    P.S. You most definitely have the gift of relatable writing. I read a lot of blogs but yours is the only one I make sure to not miss a post!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Carrie 🙂

    [Reply]

  3. Michelle

    10/31/2016

    Wow!!! I have NEVER considered the things I may do well a “gift”. I’ve always wondered what my gifts were and just decided I may not have any.

    Like many of the others I find myself being very uncomfortable when someone gives me a compliment. I ALWAYS criticize whatever the other person may be complimenting or have some form of negative comment in response. I caught myself doing just that the other day. A neighbor, who had never been inside our home before, told my husband and me we have a beautiful home. My instant response was “it’s kind of a train wreck right now” because I am in the middle of a purge and switching out furniture in preparation for having guests over for four different events in the next couple months. I have spent many hours making our house a home and really do believe I have done a pretty good job with choosing wallcoverings, paint, carpet, furniture, curtains, and accessories to make it comfortable for ourselves and to all who enter our home.

    I feel that accepting a compliment makes me a “proud” or boastful person and I don’t like to come across as this. It almost makes me feel ashamed to have done something and done it well and someone else noticed…whatever it may be.

    Because of your post, Andrea, I am going to try to just say “thank you” next time and see what happens. I feel anxious just thinking about it though.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Michelle! I have a feeling you’ll be making a nice LOOOOONG list of all your many gifts and talents!

    [Reply]

  4. Chris K in Wisconsin

    10/31/2016

    Great post! Your ending about the impression we make on our kids when we can’t simply say “thank you” to a compliment is one I hope will take hold with everyone. When our kids ~ and most especially our girls ~ hear us playing down the gifts we are blessed with, by almost apologizing for a job well done, it is showing them how little we think of ourselves. They are watching and listening. When someone says that the cookies you brought were good, or the casserole you made was excellent, or the way you decorated your house for the Holidays is beautiful, a simple “thank you so much” is all that is necessary. Little boys seem so much better at accepting the idea that they did something well. Little girls seem to be taught to minimize their successes by being embarrassed or just shrugging their shoulders. “Thank you” is appropriate in so very many situations. Let’s start to emphasize this one!! Thanks for getting this conversation moving forward!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes! I’ve even noticed that nora acts very shy when someone gives her a compliment — and I really have no idea why, because she is rarely ever shy 🙂
    I feel like I’ve been so vigilant about NOT acting that way in an effort to be a good example to her — maybe it’s just ingrained within the female DNA 🙂

    [Reply]

  5. Beatriz

    10/31/2016

    This post is spot on, I read an article similar to yours several years back and it was eye opening. Every time I received a compliment I would immediately try and find something nice to say to the other person or I played it down by saying, “oh but it was on sale” or “I can’t take the credit it was a gift.” I had to retrain myself to accept a compliment and just say, “Thank you”, whenever that happened. I still catch myself being self-deprecating at times when receiving a compliment but 20+ years of my social environment teaching me to be “humble” is difficult to break.

    I guess socially most women are told to be “humble” but it really sends a bad message to women/girls. If we aren’t humble, we obviously are not nice women. I feel that many women don’t learn to be proud of their gifts or abilities because then they won’t be viewed as humble or even feminine enough. Whereas I find that many boys are taught to boast and be proud of all of their accomplishments, even if it is only picking up their plate from the table. I know this is not true of all families but at least in my personal experience, it has been.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, you make several goods points here — and much of this is due to the fact that women are subconsciously taught to be more humble. Of course, being humble isn’t a bad thing… but neither is graciously accepting a nice compliment for a job well done. We need to teach our daughters (and sons) that they can be humble and still take pride in hard work and a job well done.

    [Reply]

  6. Barb

    10/31/2016

    Yes, you do have a gift for writing, Andrea, and I LOVE reading your posts. I commend your suggestion to think of how we can use our gifts to help others.

    Another helpful thought on today’s subject is to ask your friends/family what they see as your gifts……many times we can’t see what other people see in us.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Good point — others are usually able to see our gifts and talent easier than we are.

    [Reply]

  7. Susie

    10/31/2016

    You are a very talented writer-you keep it real! I write a Christmas newsletter every year and get many compliments on my writing–maybe I should expand on that! I also love to organize, but all my friends tell me they would have to clean things up before I could help them organize. If they would only look behind my closed doors! Keep up your writing. I am married, no kids, retired school librarian, and love to read everything you write. You have a beautiful family!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Susie! And keep writing your newsletter! I always enjoy “newsletters” much more than just a card with a picture on it!

    [Reply]

  8. Mara

    10/31/2016

    SUCH a great post!! Thank you, this was DEFINITELY a blessing to read today 🙂

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Mara — glad to write what you needed to read 🙂

    [Reply]

  9. Christine from The (mostly) Simple Life

    10/31/2016

    It’s amazing how we don’t notice our own gifts. I think I get so used to the things that I’m good at that it doesn’t feel special. But when someone is good at something I’m not good at, I’m quick to notice. It’s nice to get compliments to open your eyes to your own gifts.

    [Reply]

  10. Brenda

    10/31/2016

    Great post!! One thing that often holds me back form truly appreciating a complement is that I know all of the negatives about whatever it is I did. I won’t sew clothes for myself because I know how/where I messed it up, but I sewed my sister’s prom dress when I was in high school (and it received a lot of complements). When some one complements the cookies I baked, I think about the batch I didn’t have time to make because I sat too long watching TV (and never mind the ones that I did make and bring). I find it hard to keep these “unknown negatives” to myself! I have to remind myself that there are more people who did absolutely nothing, so whatever I contributed is worthwhile.

    I love your writing, keep it up!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, you are in good company. Every time someone compliments anything in our house, I have the sudden urge to tell them EVERYTHING that still needs to be completed, every error, every mistake, everything we did incorrectly 🙂
    Thankfully, I’m usually able to stop myself!

    [Reply]

    Carrie Reply:

    I like the way you phrase “unknown negatives”! I’m going to try and remember this next time someone compliments me or something I have done. I constantly point out the bad instead of accepting the compliment. I am going to work on keeping the unknown negatives in my life right where they are….unknown.

    [Reply]

  11. sue

    10/31/2016

    OH I SOOOO DO #3!!!!!!

    I have to honestly stop myself and THINK to say just thank you.. and let it go at that.. I blame my doing this on my lack of self confidence… I have never had it..

    This post sort of hit me funny today.. cause I have been trying to make a list of my
    talents/ gifts lately. With having to find a new job. this is one of the questions all interviewers ask, and I get all flustered and cannot think of anything.. Still working on this!!

    Sue in NJ

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    well, don’t feel too bad Sue — I think EVERY women everywhere has done #3 at least a hundred times!

    [Reply]

    Julie Seden-hansen Reply:

    Sue it sounds like you are humble, and that is something you can say is a strength in a job interview. You do not overvalue your own work, or undervalue other’s work. I bet that makes you a good team player. And that is a good strength in an interview. You are also thoughtful and not quick to come to just any answer, and being thoughtful is also a good quality to mention in a job interview! 😉 Good luck!

    Thank you Andrea for another great post!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    These are great suggestions! Thanks Julie!

    [Reply]

  12. Chris

    10/31/2016

    This is a wonderful post. Thank you.

    [Reply]

    Margaret McLellan Reply:

    I’ve never commented on your blog, but I’ve been reading and enjoying your posts since Nora was a baby. And, you are a very good writer. I am a retired college writing teacher, and you are better than you think, This hit the nail on the head:

    I realized that although I am not the most polished or eloquent or sophisticated writer around, I’m really good at writing in a simple yet succinct manner that seems to relate to SO many people.

    I have the ability to organize my thoughts in a way that makes my words easy to read (or so I’m told), and I always try to get my point across quickly, with a straightforward, no-nonsense approach that (I think) helps me feel more relatable and “real”.

    Original content from AndreaDekker.com: http://andreadekker.com/lets-talk-gifts-not-ones-open/#ixzz4OgyZKjFm
    Under Creative Commons License: Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike

    That is what good writing is–getting your point across succintly. It’s not all flowery and full of metaphors. That’s why I enjoy your blog so muchl you say it like it is.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Well, thanks so much for leaving your first comment! And wow — what a compliment from a college writing professor!

    I know my high school English teacher reads my blog (she goes to our church) and I often wonder what she thinks of my writing — isn’t that silly!

    [Reply]