Why all these compliments make me Sad

The first semester of Junior year of college has almost come to an end now. It has been a semester of experiencing humility, growing as a person, and changing life perspectives. However, one thing that hasn’t changes is that, it still always makes me incredibly uncomfortable to watch myself on a video. While different people have different reasons, mine is that I hate to confront the difference between who I think I am and who I come off as.

At the end of our meeting today, Karen, a well-respected business professor, looked into my eyes and said, “You are very ambitious and goal-oriented. I admire that a lot.”

Surprised, my eyebrows rose. “Thank you,” I responded gently. Walking out of her officer, I felt so ambivalent. A five years younger self would take so much pride in this compliment she gave, but a 20-year-old self now feels so empty, so sad, and almost ashamed.

I have asked some close friends to describe me. The first things they said were, “Confident, happy, have many friends, act like the youngest child who couldn’t care less.”

I was almost astonished to hear what other people have to say about me, because I think I am almost the complete opposite of what they said or, at least, I wouldn’t mention those things first if I had to describe myself.

Stepping into my junior year, achievements started to mean less and personal relationships start to mean much more. I am always worried. Do I come off ambitious and goal-oriented? Am I talking too much about myself? Am I acting pretentious and insecure? Can I just be real, be human, and make some real, long-lasting relationships?

As it turned out, the more I worry, the bigger is the difference between who I think I am and how I actually come off.

“As you grow, you will learn to bring your humility in front of your achievements.” said Frank, one of the most inspiring mentors I’ve had.

While all of the above comments about me from others are likely genuine and real, they make me a little sad.

Because all that I wanted to be and all that I thought I was trying to be — is not somone goal-oriented, confident, and ambitious — but someone gentle and kind.

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