There’s a time for everything under the sun. A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to be silent and a time to speak, and so on and so forth. And, I would add, a time to be humble and a time to pat yourself on the back for your accomplishments. I usually operate in humble, modest, mousy mode, but I also take a great amount of healthy pride in what I’ve achieved and I don’t apologize for that. So, with that out of the way, I am now going to toot my own horn.
Today at work, a patient asked me completely out of the blue if I was Colombian. I hadn’t mentioned anything about Colombia to him, nor had I shared any personal details about myself. This exact same thing happened a few months back. (That time, the guy turned to me and said, Eres colombiana, ¿verdad?) As my friend Anna Laura would describe it, a total shot in the arm. On cloud nine, I blushed furiously and couldn’t hold back a huge, dopey grin. If you ever wondered about the way to my heart, by the way, this is it. Well, this and poetry and long hair.
Not that I have any desire to be Colombian, not that I could ever have a snowball’s chance in hell of getting a Colombian to think I was one of them, not that my Spanish is anywhere close to perfect. But, still. It’s good enough that many people listen to me and immediately think of Colombia. Whenever my patients ask me where I’m from, I’ll turn the tables and ask them to tell me where they think I’m from. And every single time, they say Colombia. When I tell them that I’m from here, they then immediately ask me where my family is from, insistent that I must be a first-generation immigrant from a Hispanic family. This despite looking very “American.” (Actually, everyone and their mother thinks I look Russian, but that’s another story.) I have to admit, it feels pretty damn good. All is not lost, after all! In spite of everything, it hasn’t all been in vain. There are a bajillion things I don’t know, and I feel like I’ll never know as much as I’d like to/I should/that girl or guy does, but it’s good enough to impress and fool a whole lot of people. So incredibly motivating! Believe me, I’m not one to sit back and rest on my laurels. Blogging about your laurels from time to time, though, has to be psychologically healthy. So, done.
Of course, there are comments out there that totally top this one. For instance, being able to fool people into thinking that you were from wherever they were from. All 21 Spanish-speaking countries–¡pues imagínate! Or having someone make this comment not mere minutes after meeting you but after hours of talking with you. Direct compliments on your Spanish are nice as well, but after a certain point it’s better not to get compliments–it means you’re blending in. It can also be difficult to judge how sincere people are when they pay you compliments. Lots of people just want to be nice and boost your morale.
What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received on your Spanish? Are you good at celebrating your successes and progress? What compliment do you dream of receiving? What country would you love for people to think you were from? What city? Leave your modestia aparte and brag, people, brag. Let’s celebrate our triumphs together. If not here, where?