Wednesday, August 18, 2010

the notebook

**NB I wrote this post last week, so apologies if it seems out of sync - it is!

I have a lot of notebooks. The majority of them are pretty pink moleskins, preferably not ruled. (The lines tend to be too close together, plus they are futile - I have mastered the art of writing in a straight line). They each have a function... a food diary, a shopping list, inspirational quotes, money I owe my mother, story/blog ideas, to-do lists... you get the picture.

So, this week, I bought a new notebook. And I have entitled it "compliments".

That's right, a notebook dedicated solely to documenting the compliments I receive. Does this sound a little vain and vapid? That's okay - it was my first reaction, too. I laughed at my own silliness and pushed it out of my mind.

I've had a change of heart, though. It all started a few Mondays ago, when I received an email from my favourite writer/blogger in the whole world. I'm sure you can guess who she is - it's not exactly a secret. She gave me the gift of some kind, encouraging words and told me that she "REALLY liked" this blog (her caps, not mine, by the way). Naturally, I was over the moon. I could not wipe the smile off my face.

Fast-forward to this week. The elation of the email had faded into nothing. I'd woken up at 5 o'clock every morning to go the gym for the last three days and, because I was so tired, was continually falling asleep in my lectures. (I hadn't actually fallen asleep, but you know... drifting off and feeling your eyes closing before you snap back to attention, only to find yourself drifting off again... It's disconcerting.) I was getting ready to go to a dinner and I was feeling fretful and insecure. I wanted to appear vivacious and charming to the people I would be with but all I could think was how boring and unsightly I was. I was not in a good place.

As fate would have it, just as I was reaching the depths of my despair, my iPhone miraculously opened Sarah's email. (My carelessness with it - I tend to throw it around, and never lock the touch screen - probably had more say than fate, but we'll pretend for now). When I read it again, the delight I felt reached the same epic proportions that it had that very first time. I lived out the night in a sweet disposition.

So I got to thinking. It's so lovely when we receive compliments, isn't it? Just one kind word, from a stranger or a friend, can have us waltzing along on Cloud Nine for days... Then, inevitably, life gets in the way of our euphoria. We fail at something. Somebody mutters something nasty about us under their breath. We glimpse an awfully unflattering picture of ourselves on Facebook, which everybody else we have ever met has already seen and, of course, ridiculed. A loved one makes a throwaway remark that has us questioning our value. Suddenly, everything falls apart and all the wonderful things about ourselves, which we know to be true, fade away and we are left with the deep, dark, tatty remnants.

That brings me to the age-old question... why do we do this to ourselves? I'm sure it's not just me. Most people I know, women especially, have that terrible habit of forgetting all the nice things people have said to them while, at the same time, steadfastly holding onto every piece criticism they have ever received and mulling it over in their minds for years to come, continuously undermining their own self-confidence and self-love. It has to stop!

I hope that my notebook idea doesn't seem so silly to you anymore. My rationale is that, if my conscience fails to hark back to my myriad of compliments in times of need, then, dammit, I will just have to do it myself. My compliments notebook will take the pride of place on my bedside table, ready to tackle any self-effacing moment that comes its way. I'd like to think that, one day, I won't need it anymore - that I will have been able to train my mind into preserving its own self-worth. But, for now, the notebook will do.

"Sometimes someone says something really small and it just fits right into this empty place in your heart."
— My So-Called Life


Kimberley said...

Aww I love your notebooks! I remember when you used to have a gossip notebook when we were younger - and it was always consulted/updated during sleepovers!
I really love this idea (although I may tease you about it) I will make sure that I make up for it by giving you many things to write in your book!
Starting here: I love what you've done with the interior of your car.
Just kidding! I love your blog, you write so well (you always have) and I love the way that we can talk as much about politics/society as nail polish.
Love you lots, xx

Corrine/Frock And Roll said...

That is one of the cutest ideas that I've ever heard! (Ooh, look, there's an entry already! :D ) Great stuff.

Laura Valerie said...

Thank you gorgeous girls. With everything that has happened, I haven't started the notebook yet (I have it, it's just empty!), but I definitely will now that I have some lovely things to write!

As Holly Golightly says... Anyone who ever gave you confidence, you owe them a lot.

Destined For Now said...

I just adore your positive outlook. I think this post was something I really needed to read right now. I've been feeling pretty down lately and you are so right; it's hard to remember the nice things that people say. I don't do notebooks, but I think a page in my OneNote will suffice...I really love the compliment documenting idea (vanity be damned!).

Laura Valerie said...

Hi DFN, I am so sorry to hear that you have been feeling low lately. Isn't it funny how we are made to feel silly and vain for focusing upon what makes us unique and special, even though we know that we are responsible for our own happiness? We are supposed to put on a show, denying compliments and being modest, yet in order to be happy and successful we have to do the opposite, convincing ourselves that we are worthy and selling ourselves to other people. It's exhausting! Best of luck with OneNote (I am off to Google it, because I have never heard of it before... clearly I am not tech savvy) and I hope that you are feeling on top of the world in no time. Thank you so much for your comment xx

Anonymous said...

I'm a bit of a notebook junkie too :P
And I think a compliment notebook is adorable. Feel free to add this to your book : you're an amazing writer and your blog is devine :)

Laura Valerie said...

Oh Stella, thank you so much, that is definitely going in the book! Lol, you are lovely xoxox