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Have you ever gotten a compliment that made you grin from ear to ear, but many people might not realize means so much to you?

Last year, someone paid me such a compliment in a recommendation letter I had asked them to write for an upcoming project.

Asking someone to write a recommendation letter is a huge vomit moment itself – What if they say no? What if they won’t put their name behind your work? What if they can’t think of anything good to write about you, so they ask you to write it yourself? 

Then, one day you see their name pop up in your inbox, with an attachment.

The recommendation letter.

An outside validation, waiting for you to pour over, no less than 36 times.

Sometimes they are broad and general, a template copied from a “How to write a recommendation letter” search on Google, with your name inserted.

I was fortunate, that most of mine brought tears to my eyes.

One particular included this: “After our conversation, I connected with Elisa personally, and I realized that who she is online is exactly who she is in person. That’s both wonderful and more rare than you’d think!”

It might sound silly and simple, but these two sentences are now easily in the Top 25 nice things people have ever said about me.

In this industry, writing and online, there are a lot of frauds and charlatons. Those are probably some of the kinder words I can use to describe them. This isn’t about them, though. Eyes on our own papers and all.

I’m not a saint, or even a good entrepreneur and freelancer some days. I’ve screwed things up in ways I didn’t think I’d ever be able to bounce back from.

But I’ve always tried to be genuine in all my messages and interactions. 

Sometimes to my own detriment (more often than you’d think!)

So to have an extremely prominent and internationally known person in my industry not only recognize this, but call it out to the nominations panel, it felt great.

It wasn’t necessarily about my expertise or business acumen or many of the markers of success that I see so many other people chase. That might be part of what made it so special to me.

It made me feel seen, in a way that I value, but seems to be under-valued more and more.

A passing compliment, that will stick with me for a long time to come.