This week I'm facing the difficult dilemma of why we always seek validation from others and why no matter what we do we can't just be our own biggest supporter...
I think its a sure fire fact that at some point in your life you have known that someone doesn't like you and whether you hate to admit it or not that feeling has eaten you up whole. We have this constant desire to be liked by people, to seek their approval and validation, its all part of being human. We are by nature people pleasers or I am anyways. I want to be liked by people. We've all pretended we liked the same things as someone we admire, we've all wanted to be deemed 'cool' by our peers. It's part of growing up and hopefully finding yourself among the messy process. But what I have started considering is when does this need for validation really start to become too much and should we try and grow out of it as soon as possible?
As a millennial I didn't grow up with Instagram, and Facebook was something you could really only access in a limited way, so I don't know what it is like to have that sort of social media pressure as a teenager. But as someone in their twenties, that pressure is still very much relevant and very time consuming to me. It can sometimes shape the way we live our lives and our constant need to document everything can be tiring and draining. I'm not going to suddenly stop posting and sharing parts of my life on the internet, but it has made me sit back and evaluate the role it plays. This blog series came out of the fact that I wanted to show that I am more than likes on a photo. People are so much more than what we post on social media and through all the glamour it can be easy to forget. As a teenager, I don't think I could have handled this pressure and the need to look and act a certain way.
Just by getting up every morning and painting our faces with makeup and styling our hair we are projecting a desire to be something different. Not that there is anything wrong with this, I do this. But at the same time we must at some level acknowledge what we are doing and why we are doing it. Are we doing it for ourselves or for someone else? Do we want to appreciate it or do we want someone else too? I'm guilty of putting myself together in a way that hopefully someone will stop me and say 'hey! you look great!'. This approval soars threw you, leaving you on real high. But is this really healthy? Shouldn't we be able to do this ourselves? We all say far too often 'do I look nice?' its as if we crave this validation. It's sort of addictive in a way and habit we far too often fall back on. How do we crack this habit? This is something I'm trying to learn everyday and I feel may play a crucial role in me figuring out how to be ok with not being ok.
In the past I have sought validation from pretty much anyone. In the past it might have been from men, that if they think I'm pretty and worthy of their attention that means I'm special. Maybe it was from people I worked with, I wanted them to respect my work and to think that I deserve my place there. Sometimes it was through how I dressed, I have wanted to make a statement in order for someone to maybe envy me, like I have them. None of this way of thinking is healthy but it somewhat comes naturally to us, like we are programmed to think this way. Sometimes I feel like I'm fighting against the current and the pushback is just too hard. I know I am a sort of walking contradiction. I create content everyday for social media knowing pretty well that this is the platform that is most definitely adding to my need for validation. I scroll through post after post of snippets of people's lives. The best snippets of people's lives. I too take the time to post pictures of myself or my life that has been curated down to an inch of its life. But I do try and remind myself that this a small part of my life not all of it and to approach what I see and follow online in the very same way.
The problem that comes out of this need for validation is that we end up becoming the image of what we think other people want. Our authentic selves are left at the door and replaced with something much more unrecognisable. We abandon what makes us truly us and really for what? Maybe what we need to invest more time in self validation. Telling ourselves that we are indeed good enough. We need to adjust our mindset and maybe spend some time getting to know ourselves.
The reason I think I need validation is that I have a fear of being left. I acknowledge this fear and recognise it for what it is. I'm a needy person sometimes. Not in the obvious ways, I don't need you to text me every second of the day, I don't need your company on every excursion but I do need you to say you'll stay and say that I'm good enough. I don't really know where this stems from but as I have gotten older this fear has substantially grown. Even to this day I worry myself silly about the idea of losing the people I love because of something I said or did. I'm anxious I'll mess everything up and end up alone. I over apologise, over explain and over justify things I say sometimes in a bid to do no wrong. I'm painting quite an image of myself but I want to be honest and most importantly authentic. Its sometimes hard when your with other people and all this is just racing through your mind. It's as if something that should come naturally feels like you are working so damn hard at. I have wished to feel normality, even though there is no such thing. I crave to let these thoughts just float on by but this isn't how I am programmed to be. That would be fighting against who I am. So should I fight?
I think what I'm still trying to learn is that while you should never take for granted the people in your life, there is some truth to trying to relax and believe deep down that they need you as much as you need them. Relationships in our lives go two ways and what getting older and maturing ever so slightly (haha!) has made me realise is that if people really truly love you, they love your quirks, the insecurities that make you, you. They will also support you as you work on these insecurities and be there for the ups and the inevitable lows.
So maybe its time we look in a mirror and acknowledge the person staring back at us. Understand that the fact we all make a difference to someone else's life means we are indeed valid and our presence is something to be forever grateful for. Life is so much better when sharing it with others, but using this time to seek approval is a waste of the lives we have. So I'm trying to remember this and work at spending less time seeking validation and more time admiring the life I have and the people I spend it with.