Why I no longer need the validation of others
Validation. It’s one of those words that I think about a lot. What it means, why humans are programmed to require it and why I have relied on it so heavily throughout my life.
If you ask anyone that knows me, they will tell you I am a people pleaser (I think). I have always been very fearful of the word no and will often ensure I do what others want me too, even if this means tiring myself out both physically and mentally.
Recently I made the connection that many of these things I do, I don’t actually do because I want to do them. I do them because I want other people to like me. I want the validation.
I am aware that this probably isn’t a great thing to be admitting, especially online, but I want to share with you all my journey, yes I am aware how cliché that sounds, towards no longer needing the validation of others.
For me, validation has always meant someone liking me. Another individual praising what I am doing, complimenting me in some way, or just simply observing that something about me is good. This can be in any situation from an interview, a conversation with friends, all the way to people thinking I am ‘pretty’ or ‘attractive’. I put these words in inverted commas, because one thing I have learnt recently is that there is really no singular definition of attractive. Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder and it can mean so many things to so many people.
My experience with needing validation has varied so much throughout my life. I think to an extent it started when I was young. Growing up dancing and performing on stage gave me a real insight into being the centre of attention. It also made me very aware of being commented on. This is absolutely no shade to the dance industry. Dance taught me so many brilliant things and I now teach dance myself to others, but in all honesty it did overly normalise people commenting on the way I look and my body.
Fast forward to a few years later and I began requiring validation from peers in school. I never particularly fitted in in school (if any of my old school friends are reading this, I promise I am not actually that gal I pretended to be in Yr 9, please forgive me). I desperately wanted to be popular and tried very hard to be someone that I wasn’t. This led to a fair few turbulent years in which my poor parents had a nightmare of a teenager to deal with. Why did I act like this? Because I wanted that validation. From peers, from boys, from everyone.
At University I genuinely grew into the person I am today, but that took three long years to figure out.
I started Uni unaware of who I actually was and terrified of being a Fresher! Thankfully, I made some brilliant friends and belonged to an amazing dance club that helped me become someone I actually wanted to be.
This being said, I also went through stages of wanting validation from lecturers and being desperately upset when I didn’t get a grade I thought I deserved. I came home crying from nights out if someone hadn’t complimented me or bought me a drink and I worried endlessly that I just wasn’t good enough. This often led to some very questionable decisions, many late nights overworking myself, and some pretty intense panic attacks.
Now you’ve all had an insight into how my need for validation has shaped my life, we can move on to the more positive stuff. This isn’t me saying it’s all happy days from here on out, but I am definitely working on it.
I can however, honestly say that I am now turning into a person that I am proud of.
If people ask me to do something I don’t have time to do or quite frankly just have no interest in doing, I try my best to be honest and decline politely. If I am going out somewhere, I look at myself in the mirror and remind myself that I am getting ready for me and no one else. If I complete a piece of work I am happy with, regardless of how well I do, I remain proud of it. I am working endlessly to understand that fact that not every single person is going to like you. Not every person is going to think you’re good at what you do and certainly, everyone is not going to think you’re ‘attractive’.
But you know what, I don’t care (kinda…I’m working on it).
I decided to make this change of not caring a few months ago. I was jeopardising the most important people around me, whose opinions I do actually care about, by stressing about things that really do not matter and honestly I have never looked back.
I have started placing more focus on me and if I am happy with myself. If the answer to that is yes, then who cares what anyone else thinks.
Obviously there are going to be times when you have to do stuff you don’t want to do and I am by no means a completely care-free strong independent woman…yet. But I plan to get there and I am doing everything in my power to focus on me, myself and I. I only care about the opinions of people I actually value, (not just that random teacher who just hated me for no reason) and focus on the fact that I don’t need anyone to tell me I am good enough.
Because I am.
And that’s that.