Acceptance comes from within (3).png

The Need for External Validation

Recently, a very old wound was dredged up from the depths of my subconscious. I had been feeling extremely insecure and I notice that my insecurities seem to ramp up every time I come back to blogging. What I realized was that my insecurities are tied to a strong need for external validation. When I receive external validation, I feel good. When I don’t, I feel bad. I’ve come a long way and today, I can actually say I don’t care about what everyone thinks of me. But, what I realized is that I still really care about what my friends think of me.

I was trying to figure out why this was and then I remembered an experience I had in high school. I moved to a new city and a new state halfway through my sophomore year. It was really hard, being uprooted from where you grew up, your childhood friends, your home, and having to start all over again at the age of 15.

When I first moved to the new school, I actually did feel welcomed. A group of friends approached me pretty immediately and befriended me, they invited me to hang out and go to social events. I felt so relieved that I wasn’t going to be alone. I enjoyed spending time with my new friends and everything was completely normal. Then, summer break came around and these "friends" stopped texting and calling. They completely stopped asking me to hang out. It’s hard to remember exactly, but knowing myself, I’m sure that I had done my part in trying to reach out. What I do remember was for almost the entire summer, I did nothing.

I felt so depressed and rejected and I couldn’t understand why they would just abruptly stop being friends with me for no reason. It was so painful, especially at that age. Because “they” didn’t appear to like me anymore, or want to be friends with me, I no longer felt accepted. That summer was rough, but when school started again, I ended up having classes with some new faces. These new faces became my new set of friends, and those friendships were so much closer, deeper, and way more fun than my original friends who had excluded me from their group.

So, looking back, I’m actually thankful that had happened. The rest of my high school experience was pretty damn great because of my new friends.

It seems like a normal thing, to care about what the people you care about, think of you. But, I’m realizing that regardless of that person’s relationship to you, it’s a dangerous thing to do. Because when we do this, we ultimately place our self-worth into other people’s hands. And people are imperfect… each person has their own set of shadows and flaws. So, if we give that power to another human being, if we rely on external validation to feel good about ourselves, then we will always be at the mercy of other people. But, if we go within and rely on internal validation... “I know I am a good person and I feel good about myself, so I will feel good” instead of “I will feel good, only if they think I am good”… that is a much more empowering way to live.

Of course, to derive good feelings about ourselves from one's own self involves having a healthy, positive self-esteem and self-worth. I think all humans in this experience called life are constantly working on that. But, I’d much rather work on loving myself and drawing my self-worth from within than seeking it from the outside anymore. What about you?