I am one of the few people who will openly admit that they require validation.
No, I do not merely “like” being validated, I require it. I need it, and I hate it. I hate the feeling of needing to be accepted by others, especially peers, but I need it- and we all do, believe it or not. We all have that feeling of wanting to be accepted by others, the desire of knowing what we are, who we are- is socially acceptable.
We can pretend to live in a society where we don’t care about the opinions of one another but in reality our society is built in a way in which we not only need the validation from others, but we demand it. Especially someone like me, who is so reliant on communicating with others as a basis for establishing connections, someone like me who tries to get validation out of every social encounter.
What is this so called validation, exactly?
It’s that feeling of being accepted that manifests itself in a variety of ways, which range from agreeing with one another, to “liking” a picture on Facebook, to an invite to get coffee- it’s those subtle positive interactions with one-another that hide the insecurities of not being liked, or not being wanted.
Call it narcissism or vanity, but the feeling of being liked, or accepted is not only calming, it is elating. The importance of being part of something, a group, a community, a family, is instinctual, and without it we feel anxious and lost. Validation reassures you of your identity, when others accept you- you accept yourself and are truly comfortable with who you are. Its quite paradoxical, really- the more others accept you, the more you accept yourself.
If you relate to this, chances are you’re a people-pleaser, like I am. You make decisions based on what you believe will please others, like I do. You bite your tongue and smile when you need to in order to avoid causing commotion but you look back and wish you could have said more, done more- just as I often do.
I’ve always been envious of those who were blunt. Those who could say anything without the fear of being discarded. It seems as though those who don’t have an apparent need for validation are more liberated than ashamed- they don’t need validation from others because they validate themselves. These are the people who aren’t shackled by their self-worth because they aren’t trapped by the confines of the need to be wanted.
The truth is, we are not entirely to blame for our own desire for self-security. Our society tells tries to get us to believe two quite contradictory statements- the first being that we should seek validation from those around us and secondly, that if we constantly need validation, we are vain and egocentric. This is because the consumer industry preys on our need for validation. This is why we have immaculately photo-shopped models on advertisements and a flourishing cosmetic industry. Why we hear things like “Easy, breezy, beautiful, Covergirl” or “The new perfect one, no one’s perfect until now.” The validation we crave is exploited- being insecure about yourself is a profitable business, and the only way to escape the constant need to be validated is by accepting yourself- coming to terms with what you cannot change, and holding less value in the opinions of others and more value in your own opinion. While so many of us believe that we should stop seeking validation altogether- the need is innate, but instead of looking for validation in others, we should be the ones to validate ourselves.
As human beings, we are always going to have the desire to be liked, and be accepted- but instead of trying to abandon the need for validation- own it. Instead of asking the world to tell you what you’re worth- tell yourself.
I’m writing this merely as a reminder to myself as well as others who relate that self-blame and devaluation is useless. Constant validation is like a temporary high, but self-validation is a feeling much more valuable and inimitable.