Remember last year when I talked about shameful pride? I had called myself a ‘mass of complicated existence’, proving that my self-despisement was on a whole other level. I had also told you that people around me often told me that I was really harsh on myself. I never knew that my self-criticism was inspired by a fervent thirst for validation.
You know, when you want someone to heap praises on you, you don’t blow your trumpet when they are around. You will come across as an unpleasant braggart and in most cases, people will assume you already know your strengths and hence they will see no need of mentioning them to you. You know what does the trick? Yes, you guessed it right. Perfecting the art of self-condemnation.
My earliest memory of seeking validation in this manner was of making sure people heard me whine about how bad my handwriting was when I was in elementary school, even though I knew it was impressive. I needed someone to dismiss my statement by talking about how excellent my penmanship was. I was never disappointed.
The disapproval of oneself in order to get approval went on and on.
“No, you’re not. You are very pretty. Have you ever known you have very beautiful eyes?”
“My poker face is just the most hideous.”
“Noooo! I wonder why the prettiest girls never consider themselves beautiful.”
“Aaaargh, this bag disgusts me. It has a very funny design, don’t you think?”
“You know I’ve always loved that bag! Everything about it is perfect. The attention to detail, colour, design…”
But sometimes, things don’t go according to script. You one day meet that sassy character who quips a ‘haven’t you ever known?’ or ‘I can’t believe you are realizing today!’. Like that day when Unebonne told me to cut my toes off when I told her I didn’t like them. Lol. In such situations, I was forced to shut up and maybe go to whine somewhere else. I learnt the hard way that the more self-critical I was, the more unpleasant I became. People grew weary of putting up with me.
Looking for approval put me in a lot of trouble: it made me compromise on my values just to show people I was not “all that”; I got susceptible to being used by others, and I was forced to spend most of my time tending to other people’s needs and had barely any left for myself. I could go on and on.
There is one thing someone told me that changed my life. She said, “Before you leave the house, make sure you validate yourself. You won’t get validation out there, at least not for free.”