Thursday, January 16, 2014

It's Okay to Need Validation

Seaside cave at Sutro Baths

About a week go, I decided to take a vacation to my Den of Thieves—that special cave in my chest where all my insecurities dwell and greet me with, "Hey! Been a while! You still pathetic and useless? You bet you are!" And then they laugh while they pour a vat of french fry grease on my favorite leather recliner.

When I got sober, and my life shifted into focus, I realized I was hinging my self worth entirely on what others thought of me. This, coupled with taking up permanent residence in the Den of Thieves, made it impossible to cultivate self love. Without it, I was at the mercy of the voices in my head pushing me to better, faster, smarter, and approaching every endeavor with the unquenchable desire to have that person think I am, quite possibly, the most charming, effervescent, smartest, quickest, cutest person they have ever come across. Even if they've met Carla Bruni in person, I was going to be their new Carla.

How could I possibly be the best when I didn't believe it myself? And do I really want to be the best? By letting go of these high expectations for my relationships, and silencing the voices saying I wasn't good enough, I was able to show up authentically, and get some work done.


I started to pride myself on not needing external validation, to the point that any I received I flatly ignored. So when I met up with my french-fry-grease-wielding friends, I had no reserves. Nothing to tell them they were wrong. And I spent a week hanging out with them, digging out old resentments, running them over my hands and marveling at the many facets that illuminated what a sorry piece of shit I was. Worst vacation ever.

I finally spoke to someone about it, and she relayed her own experience, which mirrored mine. She reminded me that we can't exist in a vacuum. That the giving and receiving of love, compassion, even praise, shapes our humanity. It makes us human.

And I'm up for being human. Slowly, surely, blinking in the new light as I exit my cave, recognizing and embracing the faces and warmth around me.

1 comment:

  1. Nichole, I love your pieces. You always manage to make something personal and emotional more general, not just about you, but about how WE humans work.

    The older I get, the less I care about what people think of me in general. I've always been really independent, self-contained, but realizing that I'm most decidedly not an island has been a huge revelation to me. Casting aside any fears of people not liking me, or seeing that which I think is worthless about me, I've decided instead to focus only to impress those whose opinion truly matters to me, the ones I love. This creates a sweet scene of mutual support. I still try to be kind and generous to everyone, but I'm much much more picky about who I take my feedback from and who I show up for.

    Trying to please everyone just makes one unhappy. Sometimes, heck, if your expectations are high enough, trying to impress your own self can make one unhappy.

    As we say in my family, it's tough to be a person. It really is. Lots of love to you. I hope we can have some tea and talk sometime.