With everything going on in the world right now, writing on any topic other than Covid-19 or quarantine does feel weird. I do hope to cover that topic as my future content. But writing this post is a big one for me. For one thing, it is that aspect of my life which has always been there, under the surface but effective and dominating just the same. The reason of this post is this: we seek validation from multiple people, in so many different ways, that it becomes a part of our existence. At least it has been the case for me, that lead me to realize how much this bothers me. Mostly because I let it influence me to this day, and I think it’s time to change that.
For me, the validation thing started with my mother. Even at an early age, I remember always wanting to please her. I was never good at studies, I would always struggle to get decent grades, and I knew that was hard for her to accept. She had been a straight-A student her whole life and she expected her children to be the same. But we were not. So every time I knew I had disappointed her with my grades, I would feel ashamed. In that aspect, let’s just say my whole life until now passed with the effort of trying to please her and while I succeeded in not disappointing her by managing to graduate with okay grades, I know there is regret in there somewhere. That whatever my achievement has been it’s not good enough.
Then came the painful validation process through friends (or lack thereof). Low self-esteem leads to many, many insecurities, and obtaining validation through the number of friends one has, became necessary. Needless to say, I was largely unsuccessful. Not only did I not make much friends, I became the socially awkward person in the group, who never knew the right or the cool thing to say, and was too shy to say anything anyway, especially due to the fear of blurting out something stupid. Surprisingly enough, that habit still seems to be prevalent whenever I interact with a larger group of people.
When it came to making friends through university, that part of my life was no different than before. I was still too awkward to do anything fun (or know how to) and with the million restrictions at home anyway, I was unable to make my own tight group of friends. If my batch-mates interacted with me, and gave me the slightest attention (and wasn’t laughing at me-in my head), then I would find my validation and I would be ecstatic for two days.
My other needs to be validated came from the romantic sense of life. I grew up believing I was not good enough to ever be loved, and so when my crush rejected me saying I was too ugly, I believed it 100%. But then when another boy told me he liked me too, I was overwhelmed with gratitude. I finally felt worthy. If somebody liked me, then I must not have been a total waste. Then when that one left me for someone else, but after some time somebody else asked me out, I was again elevated in my own eyes. However, when eventually that didn’t work out, and I lost all sense of self-worth, I jumped into being with the next guy who validated me by saying he loved me beyond all measures. And so I settled with someone who I would never settle with, because I truly believed that none of the guys of my preference were ever gonna love me like that anyway. That was, until I lost that too because I realised that love validated only through big empty words don’t really mean anything.
Fast-forward to now, when I’m writing this post. This era of social media with the “number of followers” and the “number of likes and comments” promotes an even more dire need of validation in our minds. Even now, when I get less likes on Instagram, I feel this sense of embarrassment within myself. I once asked my friend to go like a song I uploaded because I was embarrassed it had such little likes. Even now, when I message something to a group of “friends” in Whatsapp, and nobody replies, I almost have an anxiety attack. Remember the inner child in me, who used to worry about saying something stupid? Well guess who’s still there. And then another inner child emerges and this one is even crankier and decides it won’t add one more word in that conversation because that child has some self-respect. But the moment, someone replies to that group, self-respect goes out the window and the child goes back sprinting.
I want to know why this validation is so important. I’m trying to figure out if I do or do not have any value outside of it. Does that make me the unwanted person in the group? Does that mean if I don’t get enough likes or responses or my mother still expresses that disappointment, or someone else in the family complains about some way I dressed, that I’m not worthy enough? Why is my self-worth SO dependent on everybody ELSE, but me? It took me time to realize that it’s not that I was a nobody, I just had a different way of making my friends; for example, friendship works for me with individuals, as opposed to a large group. And that is totally okay.
It’s going to take work. A lot. We are talking about a lifetime of the urge to seek validation. It’s not only a habit, it’s engraved inside us. Somehow, somewhere, when we are caring by nature, we want people to accept us. To show that they approve of what we are doing. But I’ll tell you something. I don’t want to live this version of life, where I’m constantly seeking people to like what I say or do. We owe so much to ourselves, and being ENOUGH, who we are, as we are, right here in this moment, is important if we ever want to value ourselves. There cannot be any good reason to validate ourselves through someone else’s lenses and their response to our actions. We are who we are, and unless we are doing anything wrong, if someone else doesn’t put their stamp of approval on us, we are still worthy. And I might take my time, but someday, I hope to prove my worth to people who don’t know it yet. =)