What is validation? The free, online dictionary says it means to make valid; substantiate; confirm.
For me, validation is what I feel when I belong somewhere, have a purpose or when I’m being recognized for doing something well.
Usually, I feel validated as a result of interacting with different people.
In the past (and still) that feeling mostly came from my family, who validated my very existence by telling me I was THEBESTPERSONEVER in different ways. As you can imagine this has led to my somewhat distorted sense of reality and an inflated sense of confidence that has only increased over the years (yes, I know, it’s borderline obnoxious, but you cannot deny that I am also very aware of my faults).
Most of my validation, these days, comes from friends. After I have spent time with a very close friend one-on-one, or a group of like-minded friends, I feel like I belong, that I’ve contributed, that I’ve helped in some way. This is especially true when I’ve given a good bit of advice or we’ve worked through some situation together.
At work – say I write a kick-ass press release, and all the media I invited attend a press conference I arrange and the news is brilliantly covered – I feel validated. This is then bolstered by thank yous and compliments from colleagues, involved parties and of course bosses.
And now, in this weird day and age, I also get my validation from the Internet people. These are real people (like you!) and people I vaguely know from Internet-land. When they interact with me on social media and I get notifications that tell me – I’m doing a really good job at taking staged pictures of my life on Instagram, or that my taste in dining room tables is so good that someone is actually re-pinning it on Pinterest and the ultimate – when my readership spikes for a particular blog post – I feel like I’m on some crazy validation high.
Validation is important and necessary and I think is a way to feel love and belonging and boost my self-esteem.
But what then happens, when I’m alone at night and I’m not working on work and no one has whatsapped and there are no pings. I have to be by myself and with myself.
I’ve been realizing more and more that I don’t want to keep reaching for and relying on that next hit of validation.
I want to know that I am ok as I am, without needing someone to validate me.