On Superlatives and Insincerity

I think, sometimes, when you’re in love with language, and have had a long and passionate affair with it, it has the propensity to turn around and bite you in the ass when you least expect it – often when it’s used by someone else in a manner which is somewhat unwieldy.

[Before we continue – yes, this is going to be one of *those* posts, where a writer who thinks herself somewhat good with words waxes lyrical about language and its subtleties and nuance, and hopes you find it fascinating and insightful (feel free to find it neither of those things – you might hate this, and in fact, if you hate this and I can somehow still engage you, I shall consider it something of a personal triumph, so here’s hoping you give me the chance to ‘wow’ you with the levels of self-absorbed I can achieve)]

My latest language issue is with superlatives.

We all know those, right? Those delightful treasures of language that let you know that there is no-one ‘-er’ than you, because you are the embodiment of the absolute pinnacle of whatever wonderful attribute has been ascribed to you. No-one is happier than you – you are the happiest; no-one is prettier than you – you are the prettiest; no-one is more arrogant than you – you are the arrogantest.

(Okay, I made that last one up. It should be ‘more arrogant’, but in addition to waxing lyrical I also like to play with words and it’s my blog and I’d like to see you try and stop me *pokes out tongue*)

Let me hone: my latest language issue is with superlatives which are flung about with gay abandon, like confetti, sprinkling their recipient with all the glitz and glamour of a night on the red carpet…but here’s the thing – it’s statistically improbable that you actually are the embodiment of whichever absolute pinnacle has been shunted in your direction by a well-meaning but inaccurate fan (I mean, I’ll allow for the possibility that you might be, but the chances are pretty small (sorry)), and all of a sudden a lot of the ‘oomph’ of that glitz and glamour takes on the hues of a wet Tuesday afternoon, because somehow your superlative smacks of well-meant placation.

Because, let’s face it, it probably doesn’t belong to you – it’s misplaced enthusiasm on the part of the speaker. It’s delightfully gushy, for sure, but you’re left with a nagging feeling that perhaps this is something they say to a lot of people; perhaps it’s a standard response they use when they really mean “I like [such and such that you did/are] a whole heap, and I want to praise that in a way which means I don’t have to take time to unpick it or say anything particularly meaningful”.

Ouch!

The risk is run, then, because either you receive an insincere (though well-intentioned) compliment and feel disappointed that you weren’t thought of highly enough to receive a considered one; or you believe them – believe that they truly think with their whole heart that there is no-one ‘-er’ than you, and you’re on top of the world and loving your pedestal, when you round a corner of life and find that your champion has said the exact same thing to another person. Or another five. Or five hundred. And that really they were just excited and wanted to share that with you, and wanted you to feel happy, and you feel like a bit of a mug for believing them.

*sigh*

And this is the part where I (as ever) run the gauntlet and risk offending people who throw around “You’re the most awesome EVER!” or “You’re the best” as though they were roses after curtain-down.

It’s misleading. It’s a throwaway compliment designed to placate and demonstrate the dizzying heights of a feeling which you might have for someone else, ten minutes later. It’s the linguistic equivalent of being loved by a golden retriever – intense and beautiSQUIRREL!!

And you’re gone, leaving the object of your brief moment of endorsement rather…sidelined and wondering if you meant it.

I’m sure it’s well intentioned, and perhaps just an oversight. It’s easy to get carried away with enthusiasm, and to be fair, in this world between the wires where language can mean nothing or everything, and all the bits in between, it’s probably unfair to ask for more exacting standards. Goodness knows I should just be grateful that you took the time to offer feedback.

But I’m greedy, I want more (always!): I want to know why you feel that way. What precisely was it that made you think that (for however brief a time) nothing was ‘-er’ than that moment we just shared? What got you thinking? What delighted you?

Tell me, so I can replicate it or improve it.

Because in this world between the wires, where language can mean nothing or everything (and all the bits in between), clarity is VITAL.

Particularly to me (and here, the heritage of my nit-pickiness) because growing up, there was so much negativity aimed in my direction, that my child’s brain believed, that positives (especially the grander ones) just slid off me; couldn’t possibly belong to me; were just expressions of enthusiasm but nothing really to do with me; were totally unattainable For Real, so were things I ignored, because the pain of knowing I could never match up to the good things was too great.

So when I see a rapid “You’re the BEST” sent in someone’s direction, it irks me. It doesn’t get said to me often (which is good) but I just want to make you think for a moment – you can’t let me (or whoever) know, through all the non-verbal signals [which make up 55% – 80% of human communication, and bear in mind that written communication is already a step below verbal*] the extent of your reaction to whatever it is that’s been put out there.

The only tool for understanding your thoughts, is language, with all its subtleties and nuances and beautiful moments of succinctness as long as you use them…

And I want to know (I really do) that I’m getting it right for you.

So before you respond, just…think about it?

If you don't say it clearly how will I ever know what you mean*I can totally vouch for the incredible power of spoken words over written, even without the accompanying non-verbal communication, because one of the things which MOST made my Blogosphere friendships come alive and suddenly veryvery REAL, was the introduction (to me) of voice messages via Facebook and WhatsApp – the capability to actually TALK with the people whose hearts and souls I’d been busy falling in love with in writing, sent these relationships into an entirely new orbit, and in many cases, cemented them forever. For this I have to thank Mandi, who first showed me how to send voice, and forever changed things for so, so much the better.

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72 thoughts on “On Superlatives and Insincerity

    • Clearly you pre-empted me and in a wonderful way – you might not think you’re a particularly comedic writer but I admit I giggled at the prospect of your life-changing brisket.

      Well done. I’m glad your piece is ‘Out There’, and thank you for sharing it here 😊

      Like

  1. I get this, Lizzi. And I’ve enjoyed reading the comments as well as the post – I can relate to much of what has been written. Sometimes I am moved by a piece and I feel like any comment will come up short. Sometimes I read comments on my own blog and know that they are generic and the person probably barely read. That doesn’t happen often, though. Sometimes I want to send a video to the writer of me sighing deeply and touching my hand to my heart, because words (even superlatives) won’t communicate what I want to say.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A lot of things went through my head as I read this: I try to find a way to regularly and sincerely praise which means trying to lucidly convert feelings into words. The translation doesn’t always succeed and sometimes it feels painfully awkward. I can see the author rolling their eyes at my inartful-ness… 😉

    Then I thought about how I feel when I am praised. In short – good. Do I care if someone is insincere or repeating superlatives used on others? Nope – I just like getting it. If their insincerity is a problem, it isn’t my problem.

    I came down to this: The only one who’s praise I really need to be sincere is my own to myself.

    For what it’s worth… 🙂

    P.S. loved the golden-retriever-squirrel line, very clever!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ohhhh that makes it more challenging still – to find yourself praise-worthy is HUGE and something I’m not much capable of. Perhaps that’s something I should endeavour to work towards – it certainly resonated very strongly (and painfully) with me when you said that, which makes me think it’s probably one of those issues I need to get fixed and stop avoiding.

      I DO worry about insincerity, because it feels like smoke-blowing at best, and placation and quelling at worst – a sort of disinterested attempt at keeping me happy and at arm’s length (there’s a possibility I might over-think things (no, really)).

      Hmmmmm how do I feel when I’m praised? I can be surprisingly arrogant about my writing, but that’s about it. I think I usually feel desperately grateful (and often a little mistrusting/surprised) for praise of anything else.

      (and YAY I’m glad you liked that line. It made me smile to write it 🙂 )

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t know why, but I sort of go blank when it’s time to leave a comment. Maybe it’s because I am involved in several different networking groups and I have to come up with something to say on occasion even when I am not particularly moved by what I read that I have gotten in the habit of leaving somewhat generic comments. I am often amazed by the time people take to leave thoughtful comments on some of my posts. I will try to do better. 🙂 But when I say that your writing is amazing, I really do mean that!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, this was a highly considered comment, Leslie, and I suppose to an extent it depends on the nature of the post that a writer puts out there – many seem to be a little like ‘closed questions’, which only require a small amount of praise or endorsement, and those are easy to fall into the rut of offering generic comments on…others make you think, and the response can be more personal and offer a viewpoint or a reaction.

      I’m rarely blank, but that’s what the ‘like’ button is for, right? 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. OK, girly – you asked for a thoughtful response – be careful what you wish for 🙂

    Speaking entirely for myself (because really, who else would I be able to speak for?), I occasionally read posts that blow me away – in fact, they blow me so MUCH away (if that is a thing) that I often struggle to find words that will fully express my blown away-ness. The post is so powerful/lovely/moving/delightful – I want to do it justice…and then I’ll read the comments and see that someone else has commented ahead of me and has said the EXACT thing I wanted to express. Then I’m in a quandary, because I don’t want to look like a copycat, but nothing else I can think of is exactly what I want to say. Also, I may be a bit miffed – because my comment was PERFECT, dammit – but that so-and-so just happened to get here before me and say that perfect thing before I could! But I don’t want to not comment at all, because I do want to express my appreciation – so in those cases (and usually because I’m at work and furtively reading blog posts when I should be earning my pay, which leaves me with less time to ponder and come up with something totally original and glorious) I’ll leave a comment that may contain superlatives or seem not well thought out.

    There are also days where I’m just not feeling very “talkative” or creative. Perhaps I’m having a down day, or maybe my boss has just appeared in my cubical as silently as a wisp of smoke and catches me reading my friend’s blogs (instead of earning my pay), which is sure to put me in a bad mood. I’ll read a post and enjoy it, but I just don’t have anything worthwhile to add. So, I’ll “like” the post to let the author know I was there and I DID like the post – but I may not comment. Now, as an author myself and being on the receiving end of JUST that sort of thing (so many times), I understand that “liking” a post just doesn’t carry the same satisfaction and validation as when someone actually takes the time to comment – so I’m trying to overcome my…let’s call it remoteness…on those particular days.

    But, here is some food for thought — when someone posts something like, “You’re the best!” or “I love you like crazy, Lizzi!” – but then you see that same type of post on, say Mandi’s blog – does that automatically diminish the emotion behind the comment or automatically make it insincere? I guess commenters could think a bit more and be more literal – saying something like, “You’re right up there among the best!” or “At this moment, I’m crazed with affection for you, Lizzi!” – but I just don’t think that is the way people work for the most part. Not everyone is a wordsmith, so they may fall back into the comfortable or familiar – using superlatives or cliché – but I don’t believe that necessarily lessens the true feeling behind their admiration.

    Whew! So there you go – my thoughts on the matter. PS, I didn’t read ANY comments before writing this (because wouldn’t that have sucked if someone had already mentioned all of this!)

    Liked by 3 people

    • All been said before.

      (KIDDING!)

      And thank you ❤

      See, the thing with your examples…I can easily negate both of them in my mind, quick as a snap. I KNOW that's 'me' not…whatever the other person is putting out there. Or probably MOSTLY me, yaknow?

      I feel like the more this gets into thinking deeper and taking other perspectives into consideration, I realise that a LOT of this is about my own hang-ups and lack of confidence. The same way I had an issue a while back with people bandying around the word 'love' because I had some very set ideas and was unwilling to open my mind a tiny bit.

      It's a good thing this is just my blog and I get to be wrong without consequence.

      I still think that considered replies are important, but I've also been guilty of 'liking' and leaving – usually when I can appreciate the talent and effort which have gone into a post, but I really have nothing at all to contribute because the topic is so far beyond my circle of experience (usual subjects include children, sex, good relationships, positive self-image…that kind of thing)… 😉

      And I appreciate that the use of superlatives or cliche doesn't lessen the emotion, but perhaps it masks it a little, and I like to see people's realities, rather than what they put out there as an acceptable front.

      (added to which, in the Blogosphere, in particular, I think it's a good challenge to try to respond with emotionally accurate content and try to convey it successfully (caveat: if there's time and you aren't being watched by your sneaky boss))

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Ten Things of Thankful #98 | Considerings

  6. Just think about it. YES! Thank you.

    “You’re the best.” Hairpullingly awful. Honestly, I’d prefer no comment. Nothing. Zip. Nada. I’m the best? Golly. How unique.
    And yes, am grinning over the “It’s the linguistic equivalent of being loved by a golden retriever – intense and beautiSQUIRREL!!”

    Liked by 1 person

    • *grins* I felt quite pleased with that sentence when I wrote it. I feel like I can be a little smug now at least two people like it 😉

      And yeah – it’s like this one time when a blogger wrote a MASSIVE post about encouraging engagement, and I wrote a MASSIVE reply and got “Thanks for reading and commenting”…like…REALLY?!?! Wow….

      Like

      • YES! What IS that? “Thanks for reading and commenting…” is akin to Christmas cards signed simply “Ben and Jill.” No note. Nothing. Just “Ben and Jill.” If you’re gonna send ’em, add a little colour.

        Like

        • EXACKHERLY! I’m a greedy writer – I want to know WHAT you felt, WHY you felt it, WHICH THINGS THAT I DID WERE GOOD….And when I give back, I want it to be appreciated.

          I love how my niche here is ME ME ME, so I can get away with this kind of thing 🙂

          Like

  7. I stayed with it all the way to the end. Even to to the end of comments! I LOVED this post. Truly. I thought it showed great analysis of not only the use of superlatives, but writing in general, and some of the good and bad of social media, too. I enjoy reading your thoughts, Considerer!

    Gretchen’s dilemma regarding the Barry Manilow concert reminded me of a time I was taken to a concert as a surprise. I spent a good portion of the night faking that I enjoyed The Beach Boys. I didn’t want to hurt my date’s feelings. I hated myself for being inauthentic. But hey, it wasn’t that bad. It was a lovely gesture by my date. I appreciated that aspect of it very much. In the end I can honestly say I was having fun, because my date was so happy.

    Sorry to digress.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You reframed your thinking and chose to find happiness and enjoyment in your date’s happiness, and that’s an admirable way to adapt. I tend to find that with blog posts I can usually find something to appreciate, and I love giving feedback which encourages people and lets them know what I enjoyed.

      I’m so glad you liked this, Larry, and I really appreciate you sharing your thoughts. It’s kind of you to say that there was good analysis. I think there were things which I left out, but I’m not trying to win any prizes with my thoughts, so it’s all good.

      (P.S. I would have gone on your date in lieu of you – I REALLY love the Beach Boys)

      Like

  8. Hi Lizzie,
    So much to think about after reading your post and the comments…well about half of the comments. I’m starting to get tired. Personally, I take all comments at face value and believe them all. Whenever, I get a really encouraging amazing comment, my heart pitter patters and I didn’t even think that it wasn’t sincere. I just soak up and believe it all. Not because I think I’m wonderful but perhaps because I’m more gullible. My husband is so much more cynical or even discerning than me. I do give people a lot of praise and encouragement. It’s just the way I am. I do try to make it specific but it gets hard when you’re reading multiple posts and they’re all fantastic and inspire me in some way. I do try to leave comments on every post I read because I know how much I value comments on my blog and I also like to get those convos going between commenters as well.
    However, I hate fake and superlatives do drip of fake so I’d probably smell that rat.
    Also, don’t forget what you are achieving through your blog and that maybe ..just maybe those superlatives aren’t superlative after all and you just need to let that positive feedback erase the bad stuff and create a new Lizzie story.
    Meanwhile, I am becoming superlatively tired so will head off.
    xx Rowena

    Liked by 1 person

    • Awh I’m sorry you’re so tired, and I really appreciate you taking the time to comment anyway. Are you feeling more rested now?

      I’m not sure what I’m achieving here – community, perhaps, but that’s a group effort rather than just me. Ditto thankfulness and compassion – I might be key(ish) but it’s definitely not energy I can create single-handedly.

      I am a HUGE giver of praise and encouragement – I firmly believe in the stuff, and I like to offer it as freely (and genuinely) as I can – it’s very rare that there’s a blog post I read which has nothing at all which I like in it, and I find it something of a personal challenge (a lovely one) to give constructive, specific feedback to people, because as you identify, it’s important, it’s personal, and it helps people to develop and know what their audience likes.

      I feel like I’m gullible if I believe anything too nice…

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’d do well with an Aussie bloke then. Phrases like “I told you I loved you. I’ll let you know if it changes”., “it’s alright” (meaning it’s actually pretty good” Oh yes…there’s also the grunt, which I’m told is about as much as we’ll get out of my son during the teenage years.
        By the way, don’t undervalue the role of the facilitator. It takes a lot of work to organise the things you do and grease the social engine and skill. You do it very well and have helped connect thousands of people. That’s such a credit to you.
        By the way, I wrote 33, 770 words for the A-Z April Challenge. How incredible is that?!! Yes, I know I badly exceeded the amount of words I should have written to keep it brief but it really encourages me to get moving on some of my bigger projects.
        I must say that I’m pretty good when it comes to the rah rah. but I also have my own inner doubts and they’re like trying to shift an opstropolous elephant.

        Liked by 1 person

        • *grins at ‘ostropolous’ and runs to find a dictionary*….Ohhhhh I LIKE that. Wow. NEW WORD WIN! Thank you.

          That’s an AMAZING number of words. I wrote nowhere near that many because I did the poetry challenge rather than the A-Z, but I got some damn good pieces out of it.

          And alright – I do stuff which connects people – I feel a little bit like that’s one of my fortes and I love doing it.

          I would do RUBBISH with an Aussie guy – I *want* to be showered with compliments – I just have a hard time believing them 😉

          Liked by 1 person

          • I had to think very carefully before spelling that word. Wonderful, isn’t it!! I’ve just reblogged a very long post which I know will touch you. It deals with stigma re mental illness and how we need to appreciate our sensitive people t was so informative!!xx Ro

            Liked by 1 person

  9. I truly love this post, Lizzi. As someone who uses superlatives with some regularity, I didn’t quite think of the insincerity with which it may sound. While well-meaning, it can come off poorly, much like the tone in written word can often be confused.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m just glad not to have offended you 🙂 And I think that what others have said about the timeframe, is a valid thing which I didn’t think of – in THAT moment, it might very well be THEE BEST, but also, yeah.

      I tend to (try to) make sure I’m clear when I’m using superlatives for effect rather than as genuine praise.

      Like

  10. Mandi said exactly what I was thinking. I started analyzing every comment I’ve made to you and everyone else as I was reading this. I think there’s a fine line. I feel like I know when someone is being authentic or blowing smoke up my ass. But I can absolutely see, especially given your history, why that is a stumbling block for you.

    I tend to get excited and exuberant and I’m sometimes like that golden retriever, but it’s always authentic. I’m no good with the fake stuff. It makes my skin crawl. It’s why I struggled with being in a sorority. I can’t even pretend to dance or like music that doesn’t appeal to me! I mean, I’m ridiculous. I have to go to a Barry Manilow concert with my husband (his bucket list concert 🙂 ) and I’m trying to figure out how that’s going to look. Am I going to sit and bury my face in my phone all night? (I wouldn’t, cause that’s rude) I don’t want to be dead weight and un-enthusiastic but I find it physically impossible to move to the music or fake excitement when I’m just not into it. Wow. I really have some issues here don’t I? Sorry I got way off subject… And this paragraph could be about so many things… and now you’ve got my mind spinning… Damn you Lizzi!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Here’s my reaction – even though your husband might like you to go with him to see Manilow, might he have a BETTER time at his bucket-list concert with someone else who really enjoys that kind of music? Might that be a way around it? Spin it positive and see how it works. If it has to be you, then so be it, but if there’s someone else who would enjoy it more, and that would make it better for your husband then…

      ACK I don’t want you to think back and over-analyse – you’re another person I’ve not ever seen be less than genuine. And yeah I think so much of this (which, good, at least it’s apparent) is a TOTAL opinion piece, and shouldn’t be taken as ‘something which should apply to everyone’ because of how *I* am, and the fact that I tend to default to thinking it’s smoke being blown, and then get sad.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, Gretchen – Barry Manilow is good times! I have a whole post written about my close encounter with him (THAT wasn’t such good times, but his concert was fun). If nothing else, you can snarkily mock him in your head during the shoe and surreptitiously take notes for what you know will be a great blog post that comes out of the experience!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Omg.. Every time someone makes a dessert that tastes oh so scrumptious I ALWAYS say.. “This is the best ever!” To every single dessert! No matter who makes it! I never even thought about it, the words just tumble out because I’m so wrapped up in the deliciousness of the moment. Crazy.. I’ll definitely be pausing, biting my tongue and making a point of being absolutely sincere and share in detail, why I feel their ____ is so yummy and why it pleases my palate so.. Thanks for this Lizzie! You rock! And I sincerely mean that! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you 🙂 I’m glad you took this in the spirit it was intended – it’s not meant to attack or undermine enthusiasm or engagement but encourage clarity.

      And now I want to know what desserts you’re lucky enough to get treated to…

      Like

  12. I definitely fall along Sarah’s line of thinking. How can we judge what anyone truly feels or thinks based on the words that show up on the comment page? Everyone thinks and feels differently and perhaps – as has been said already – that superlative comment or reaction may be precisely what they feel in that moment. Maybe they were trying to comment with nineteen other things going on around them and that was what they could muster because leaving any comment was more important than leaving none in favor of returning to write something more grand, more engaged, more authentic, whatever. Maybe they just can’t put into words what they are feeling at that moment. I don’t know. Maybe what all of this means is that blogging and the online world is not for me. I want to think folks are glad for anything offered in comment conversations, for the engagement on any level that the reader is comfortable sharing, rather than wonder if my comments are good enough. Maybe that’s why I’ve really backed off of commenting anywhere lately – feels too much like if I don’t make the right kind of comment, that it’s not welcome. Of course, who doesn’t love a really thorough, thoughtful, and lengthy comment? But not everyone puts words together in quite that way.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I haven’t noticed your comments to be anything less than thoughtful and careful, Lisa. This isn’t a personal attack on you (or anyone) and shouldn’t be taken as such. Nor do I think that this post should have any bearing on your continued blogging. It’s just a post. If you want to write and there are words in you to be written, then write. If you don’t and there aren’t, then don’t. But you can’t base a decision like that on umbrage taken at something someone else has written.

      Or maybe you can. Like I say, it’s up to you.

      And like I said in response to Sarah, there are angles concerning timeframe which I hadn’t considered. I know it doesn’t take long to put together something authentic; it takes barely more time to write “I really like this and I’m happy you wrote it” than it does to say “OMG this is the BEST THING EVER”. No reason authentic has to mean wordy, and it can be every bit the gut reaction of the moment, in amongst nineteen other things, as can the throw-away.

      Liked by 1 person

      • No I don’t think it’s a personal dig anywhere. I’m just in a shitty place right now, I think. Feels like the world is too much with me, you know? Going back to the world where I lived in complete anonymity and obscurity feels tempting right now. Too hard for the total introvert to creep out, I guess. I don’t know. Anyway. you always do engage – that’s part of your superpower, right? Really looking forward to sharing some in-person engagement when you visit America!!!

        Liked by 1 person

  13. You are awesome Lizzi (notice I didn’t say “awesome-est”). I totally agree with you and always want to know what, in fact, makes me superlative when someone bestows such a compliment on me. I do, of course, enjoy the glitz and glamor as you put it, but then I tend to think, “Really? I’m not sure I believe you.” That’s response can be construed as severe skepticism, a sad lack of self-esteem or, really, just curiosity and a desire to carry on in my awesomeness 🙂 xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know that for me it’s a lack of esteem – I hear a superlative and immediately dismiss it as pleasant enthusiasm but not something which belongs (or could belong) to me. Even though the glitz and glamour is nice for a moment or two until you see those roses being thrown at someone else’s stage…

      (I noticed. And thank you 😉 )

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Are we all a bunch of narcissists that we think this post was written for us? I mean me? I mean, them? I mean … I don’t know that I’m smart enough (you’re the smartest) to truly understand all that was said up there, but this I know, and I’m the knowest. There are only so many words in language. I have some favorites. Just like I have my favorite people, and you know you’re one of them. I may use some of my favoritest words with my favoritest people, and if I replicate or duplicate, just know that you will always be the only one who could ever be *twinklysparklygoodnessest*.

    I’m glad I introduced you to voice messaging because some of the happiestest times come from hearing your sweet messages, and my kids get a kick out of it, too. Particularly when you sing.

    Have you been listening to the anthem I sent you? Because it’s true.

    Liked by 1 person

    • *exhales*

      Squishy, mine, (this is objective and purely based on my own experience, so it’s legit) you do give me some of THE VERY BEST Comment…I had to take a moment there, because I thought for a moment that I’d have to remember how to breathe again after you exploded my heart into a galaxy of stars.

      You’re plenty smart enough. And I can own *twinklysparklygoodnessest*

      I haven’t been listening to the anthem partly cos I’ve been absolutely addicted to that song I sent you (the funky, cheesy, 80’s one) for the last three days. It’s on a loop – I’ve listened to it constantly while I’m in my laptop, and my heart is beginning to beat to its rhythm, and the bassline feels like it’s thrumming through my veins while I’m away from the song, but I’ll get over it and get back to yours (which…not gonna lie; it’s a challenge. I feel very ‘aspirational’ about it).

      But what I don’t feel aspirational about is how much you matter to me. I very nearly messaged you yesterday to say that you’re one of my favourites…but then I chickened out and now I wish I didn’t.

      Like

  15. Whatever you write, it is engaging, dear Lizzi. i believe a much condensed version of this thought showed up in my angrydrunkbad poetry night. Your posts always make me rethink the limitations I unconsciously put on myself about what to write about. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Will you link me to what you wrote? (and by the way can I say how much I’m enamoured with the idea of angrydrunkbad poetry? 🙂 )

      I can’t decide if the limitations comment is a good thing or not – I sometimes fly a bit close to the wire, but I’m not often backwards at being blunt when I feel like it. I figure it’s my blog and I can be an asshole if I want, and people are free to click the red X if they don’t like it 😉

      Glad I make you think, though – that’s my goal in the end, even if you (or whoever) think I’m an idiot 😉

      Like

      • It was a little “free verse” on my FB page after a bottle of wine and it was quite terrible, but knowingly so. Can’t imagine anyone would read anything you write and think anything but “I wish I could write like that.” And the limitations comment only meant that I agonize over what to write about and produce nothing, you just write what you want and it’s always good, I have a lot of growing to do.

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  16. I think we are becoming more liberal with adjectives and superlatives and there’s a distinct danger of making them seem insincere.
    There’s also the matter of collocation – which we seem to have completely thrown out of the window. How can one make awesome lime juice, for example? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would hope that the limes would make their own awesome juice. But YES dilution of these superlatives is a real thing, I think. In the same way that we’re becoming oversaturated and desensitised to swear words, I think we are with positive reinforcement.

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  17. “It’s the linguistic equivalent of being loved by a golden retriever – intense and beautiSQUIRREL!!”
    This made me snicker. Because it’s true.

    And the bit where you mentioned your childhood, and how negative comments became ingrained in your psyche, and anything positive rolled right off – I relate to that *so* much. I still struggle with that, and I’m well out of that situation now.

    “I want to praise that in a way which means I don’t have to take time to unpick it or say anything particularly meaningful” – yeah. That’s a possibility, or maybe they feel so much, and that weirds them out, or they would feel uncomfortable expressing their thoughts to you, anxious that the depth of their feelings would make you uncomfortable, and settle for something more generic. That’s happened to me before, which is when I would either relate my thoughts in a tamer manner, or resort to sarcasm…

    I think you absolutely have a point, but I think this language still has a place. Sometimes it is the “most beautiful baby” they’ve ever seen, continuing to live and gain more life experience shouldn’t automatically negate an emotion someone has at a particular point in time. You know? (You write a post about eloquence and the written word, and I respond with anything but. : / Apologies.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pffft no, this made a lot of sense. You kind of echoed what Sarah said below – that the timeframe counts, and perhaps in that moment, it IS the -est of all. So there’s that.

      And I hadn’t thought about the overwhelmed factor. I know sometimes if I get overwhelmed I don’t talk right, so perhaps it’s the same, and yeah – that’s an angle worth considering too. Definitely.

      This is great feedback – thank you. I really appreciate it – it will all help me to form an end stance on this.

      (you and I come from similar histories, I think *hugs*)

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  18. Ahhhhhhh…so I think you’ve explored this pretty fully (see how I lowered my superlative?), and you’ve done a good job of making your worthwhile point but also recognizing that your own history is playing a role in your fruit ration with this kind of scenario (as it always is for anyone). I think it is good advice and a thoughtful move for anyone to give specific feedback. Did that make any sense? To think about and communicate specific likes and dislikes instead of making a grand, maybe not fully genuine statement. But, sometimes, just sometimes, I think you or something entirely different is THE BEST. And it is the best in that moment. Sometimes I like to get carried away.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Hmm..I’m thinking…as you asked. Well, I do get where you’re coming from. I get irked when I hear someone has said the same thing to 10 other people and I’m not as special as they led me to believe. It’s not the words that bother me; it’s the lack of authenticity that bothers me.

    But then there are also people who are not able to verbally express themselves as we can. They don’t have the words for what they think or feel. A really good friend said to me a few months ago “OH my God, I LOVE LOVE LOVE your blog! I just love it!” I said “Really? Wow. Thanks! What do you love about it?” It was as though I asked her how to perform brain surgery. She didn’t know how to explain to me what she loves about my writing. I know she really does love it. I know she’s genuine in her compliments, but she doesn’t have the ability to express herself like I can.

    And ultimately…as you are aware, whatever bugs us about someone else is really about something in us. I have a hard time believing compliments are true and real. I always make excuses “Oh, he’s just saying that because he’s my husband. Oh, she’s my best friend, she’s supposed to say nice things to me. Oh, She’s being sweet because she must need something…” But those thoughts are rooted in my own insecurities and feelings of self-worth.

    Lizzi, I think this is the BEST blog post EVER! 😉 You’re the awesomest!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • HA! You’re on the money – I’m atrocious at accepting a compliment, and I know all the heritage of that in painful clarity.

      And yeah, okay – you’re also on point with the “Love, love, LOVE” comment, cos actually I’ve been guilty of that at times too (though I could totally back it up with more words) but I don’t tend to apply this thinking to people who aren’t (ohmigosh this is gonna sound so snobby) as capable with words as the writers and wordsmiths I tend to mix with…

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