Home > Random Musings > Dortastic Me: The Art of Stealthy Ninja Compliments

Dortastic Me: The Art of Stealthy Ninja Compliments


The other day, I wrote a quick “you’re awesome. I love your work” message to a stranger. I do that, from time to time, because it’s not only a nice thing – it’s an honest thing. Life can be chaotic, and it’s important to take a moment to send something altruistic and complimentary out into the world.

Wow, that sounds really Hallmark meets New Age. Artists need to hear that someone likes their work. Any artist. It can be the difference between a bad day and a good, because – let’s face it, we’re an intensely tough-fragile bunch. There’s not a single artist (singer, dancer, actor, writer, photographer etc) who hasn’t, at some point, thought: good grief, what am I doing? I suck at this.

Actually, you don’t have to be an artist to have had that thought. It happens to parents, teachers, psychiatrist – basically, everyone. But let’s move on.

So, I sent off a quick message, which is no big deal (until this morning, I didn’t realize how much of a habit the Spontaneous Message of Awesomeness is). However, I might’ve used the word “dorktastic” in reference to myself. In retrospect, it’s kind of silly, and it’s probably not a word that most people grownups use.

But I am a hopeless dork. I’ve come to terms with that. I currently possession the hardback, comic book version of The Last Unicorn, which is right next to my copy of The Princess Bride, which I haven’t read since college.

On my DVR, you’ll find Torchwood: Miracle Day. Yesterday, I quoted from White Fang. I’m currently drinking coffee from a large, red True Blood mug. You will have to pry that mug out of my cold, dead hands. It’s the perfect size, which is to say…giant.

I am, despite all appearances to the contrary, a big dork. Also, a geek – but not the kind that eats glass or live chickens. I read for fun. I quote from Shakespeare. I have been known to discuss Edward Said, Foucault, and Sartre for FUN. My idea of the perfect Sunday is one spend in bed, eating Chinese takeout, drinking coffee, and watching repeats of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Yes, I liked the movie. Yes, I am aware that most people did not. But come on, Luke Perry? Lines like, “What are you DOING here? This a naked place” and the fact that I once memorized an entire scene of dialogue just because I could?

Yeah, I’m a dork. I’m ok with that. I figure it makes me well-rounded.

I try very hard not to be shy; it will surprise people to find that I am shy by nature. I push past that, and do silly things – like sing in public, give compliments to strangers, and recite poetry in various accents (Jamaican, Irish, English, and occasionally, Southern).

This often yields several notable “I carried a watermelon” moments. No, I won’t be recounting those, unless you send tequila. But I’d rather say something silly, or sound like a dork, than stay silent and wonder.

Because you never know what something, some random email or message, may mean to someone. Over the years, I’ve been on the receiving end of a few of those. Creeptastic ones aside, they make me grin like a cracked out, caffeinated FOOL. They’re awesome. Because they’re altruistic. That person didn’t have to take the time to be nice. It’s an extra special bonus, because it’s a compliment without pretense.

I never give empty compliments or praise. It’s just unexpected, sincere blurbs. That might make me a dork. That might make me seem a little silly. But it also makes me honest. It’s part of who I am, and I’m good with that.

When is the last time you gave someone (a stranger or acquaintance) an unexpected compliment?

Categories: Random Musings
  1. August 20, 2011 at 11:22 am

    It’s been awhile since I’ve done the random compliment comment on anything. I really should go surfing through the web again.

    I love reading your blog, I always look forward to new entries. You’ve inspired me to want to write more personal, opinionated posts on my artist blog. I think I want to show more personality and be less work in progress centered.

    • Ali
      August 21, 2011 at 8:13 am

      *grin* Thank you very much for the compliment, Jessica. That really means a lot to me. And if you are going to post more personal entries, I would love that. Yay! 🙂

  2. Jos A. Kruschke
    August 20, 2011 at 12:59 pm


    That’s about as close as I get. If I read something that makes me smile and I don’t have anything to add or no opinion, I will just leave a 🙂 .

    If you make me think, I’ll usually ask a question followed by signing of with a Hmmm….

    How much evil and self-harm is done in the world, because we over value what others think of us?

    Bulimia and Anorexia are two examples of self harm.

    Being a jerk because you want those around you to think ‘your the man’ and powerful is harming others because you care what they think of you.

    Being nice because you want others to think your nice. Might not be doing any harm, but
    might be a little dishonest, if your are telling yourself it’s all about them, and it’s really about all about how you feel. (This wasn’t ment to be directed at you, Ali. I have no reason not to take you at your word that you feel it’s just the right thing to do. I was just talking in general terms, and from my point of view.)

    I don’t really look for validation from others, so I really don’t think about or go out of my way to validate others. I would rather you tell me honestly what you think then give me false validation, because you don’t want to hurt my feelings.

    My 2 cents,

  3. Blake
    August 21, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    When is the last time you gave someone an unexpected compliment, you ask? I think I pay compliments quite regularly. As you said, it is just a part of who I am. Perhaps the credit is due to how I was raised. If you can call it such, then maybe it’s a family value. Ultimately, the older I get the more important it is to me to take the time to acknowledge what I appreciate.

    I don’t offer a compliment simply for the sake of doing so. When I say it, I mean it. It is genuine and heart-felt. When one has the opportunity to pay a compliment in person, there is little to no room for misinterpretation (i.e. Is it sincere, condescending, or – as you said – creeptastic?). With the written compliment, however, there can often be room for interpretation.

    Not long ago, I commented to a blog post of someone whose work I think is superb. It was not the first time I had commented to that blog. So, although the blogger and I are strangers to each other, I figure this individual at least has some basic familiarity with me. By the time I hit Submit, I had composed a rather lengthy comment complete with quotes (er, I’ve done this in your comment section, too. What can I say? Y’all inspire me!) Anyway . . . I did not expect a reply but did get one. I believe the expression of appreciation was sincere. HOWEVER, because it noted that my comment had left the person somewhat speechless, I had a knee jerk reaction: “Speechless? In a good way or bad way? Oh crap – I just came across as some uber weirdo!” I was tempted to go back and clarify then I thought better of it. If I had left that impression then any further comment probably would’ve just reinforced the idea. Oh, how I shudder at the idea of having written something creeptastic (though I’m digging that word). 🙂

    • Ali
      August 22, 2011 at 9:58 am

      Blake, I get the feeling that we’re very similar in this instance. I never give an empty compliment, and I also tend to get slightly panicky when commenting on things. Online, especially, things can be difficult to interpret. Also, I am SO boring the term uber weirdo. Love it. *grin* I highly doubt you’d ever come off as creeptastic. You’re far too well-spoken and thoughtful for that. Unless you mention Chianti and fava beans, I think all will be well. Hehe In all seriousness, I hate that after-I-hit-post (on someone’s blog — or even when I send a message or email) panic. The wave of “Oh, my GOD — what did I just say? Did I make ANY sense, or did I say I carried a watermelon?” You’re not along in those knee-jerk reactions. *grin* Thanks, again, for taking the time to read and comment!!

  4. Blake
    August 22, 2011 at 10:36 am

    Thanks, Ali! I appreciate your reassurance. 🙂 I guess we all have those moments. I imagine you writers receive such a wide range of comments that it is fairly easy to tell the difference between the so-called normal variety and the red flag variety. Here’s to hoping the latter are few and far between!

  5. August 22, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    Dorks of the world unite! I could use this as a forum to list off my own dorktastic qualities, but I’ll refrain seeing as how I’m pretty sure you know most of them already. On a more serious side, I have to admit that I haven’t given a random compliment in awhile. I’ve given compliments, but they always come right after having been given something to comment on. I haven’t truly given any out of the blue ones. I shall get on that forthright!

  6. Angelina
    August 24, 2011 at 2:40 pm



  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: