How embarrassing, to be human.
Seeking validation from others often gets a bad rap.
A couple of nights ago, I chatted via Skype with a dear friend who I hadn’t spoken with in over two years. As catching up goes, we ended up laughing and talking for two hours about anything and everything. At some point, the idea of seeking validation from others for crazy-sounding, “personality crisis”-esque ideas came up and got me thinking.
We’ve all heard the advice, the words we wish we could internalize but rarely do: seeking affirmation from others kills freedom. Worrying what others will think of your ideas, your work, and your decisions is deleterious to making any progress. Soliciting approval from others is the rush-hour traffic bottleneck slowing your roll, the invisible yardstick that will always seem taller than you no matter how skyward you grow. Instead, many say, trust in the big cosmic thumbs-up you feel when you are doing what makes you happy, and throw others’ opinions to the skies.
But here’s the thing. Maybe a little validation from others is exactly what you need. As long as it’s not your primary motivation for doing what you do and being what you choose to be, because I think that’s when it gets tricky and dangerous… But if your compass falls out of calibration, finding receptivity to your madness from others every now and then can push your needle back to due North.
Many caution against reliance upon the vehicle – validation – but the destination it drives you to can be exactly where you want and need to go. And we’re all a little guilty of hitching a ride on the validation bus.
It’s why we get excited to see that red notification bubble at the top of our screens or little orange heart and number at the bottom of it, is it not? When a shot in a dark networking with someone on LinkedIn results in a connection, a validation from another human being, saying, yes, you are in my network. I include you in my universe, that feels undeniably good. When we talk things out with a sister, a friend, a boyfriend, a parent, a stranger that we fear no judgment from and can therefore open ourselves completely to…. what we seek from them is an affirmation that we are tenable, credible, and “okay.” That we are not, in fact, insane or alone — or both. And even if the validation sought is that it’s okay not to care what others think of you at ALL — we still portray ourselves a certain way to achieve that, whether we intend to or not. But I don’t think it’s something to beat ourselves up about.
Validation can be… the bumpers at the bowling alley. Sure, we might look like novices and be subjected to mild embarrassment, but if it keeps us from the gutter and steers us to roll on toward a strike, who’s to complain?