“Seeking validation will keep you trapped. You don’t need anyone or anything to approve of your worth. When you understand this, you’ll be free”.
The constant need for approval & validation kills all creative freedom. I should know, because up until about three weeks ago I spent my entire life seeking approval from anyone besides myself. Be it my university work, outfits, Instagram pictures (could I be more Gen-Z?!l) or even knowing when to put the bloody dishwasher on, I was never satisfied unless it was validated by somebody else.
I became an approval whore-nice to meet you x
Growing up, I was the Queen of people pleasing and did pretty much everything to impress and satisfy other people. I had no real concept of self-validation and standards as the fear of being criticised and argued against powered heavily against me. I had no real idea of what made me happy and what was important to me, I just went off of the standards of everyone else. My work was only good enough unless someone said so, I only liked my outfit if it got enough likes on Instagram. I am only now realising how pathetic this all sounds.
Because, when you immerse yourself in a life like this, you eventually become blind-sighted. You convince yourself that this is a positive personality trait to possess. Everything you're doing is making everyone else happy, what is the possible harm in that?
As I evaluate my life now, I can see that there actually is harm. It's monotonous. It's mentally exhausting. In fact, whilst I am no doctor or professional, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is where a lot of my anxiety stems from. I would tire myself out trying to reach such high standards that weren’t even set by myself; slowly but surely detaching from the true person I am inside. At some points, I would even forget who this was.
What were my values? What do I perceive to be important and satisfactory?
I cannot even blame this lifestyle on anyone either. No one has ever asked me to live by their rules. My family and true friends have never set me unrealistic goals & have always given me the opportunity to explore life through my own avenues. I have no idea where this stemmed from and no one to blame it on.
Although initially it may seem difficult, tearing away from this routine can be possible if you make the effort to do so. Now more than ever, we have all the time to reflect on our lives, realise our own individual importances and learn to tolerate the anxiety of letting others disapprove of us. We can be the best version of ourselves. We can introduce authenticity and integrity into our lives.
Start simple: the next time someone gives an opinion that opposes against your own, don't conform and play dumb. Allow yourself to voice your thoughts and let what ever happens next, happen. The worst thing that will occur? You may weaken a bond between someone that wasn't really genuine anyway. The best case scenario? You'll realise you have someone in your life who you can disagree with but still love. This is just one way to start working on yourself and build true relationships with people instead of basing your conversations on conformity.
This strategy will not eliminate your desire for approval straight away, but it will start to open up many more opportunities for you to explore who you truly are. What opinions, thoughts and choices you want to make. And ironically, it may actually attract more approval in the long run. You will be more fun to be around, your work may improve, your relationships and conversations will become more authentic...
...you will be unapologetically you.