‘It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion than our own.’ – Marcus Aurelius
What could be worse than pursuing relevance from where it’s most unlikely to be acquired? Perhaps, it would have to be being disappointed when you can’t get the validation you so badly want. As much as we may claim to be ‘self-made’, ‘one-man-MOPOL’ or those slangs we throw around, every human being requires some level of assurance and I’m not referring to the Omo Baba Olowo kind. I’m saying you want to speak and have every reasonable listener nodding in agreement. You want to have a sense of self-worth that makes you feel good about yourself.
Seeking validation is simply demanding of others the self-respect and self-approval you should feel for yourself. It’s not necessarily an aggressive demand. In fact, it would most likely be the passive sort of thing so much so that rather than the anticipated regard, what such people actually get in return is disdain and (Insert any other synonym for ‘See finish’).
I always wanted to be agreeable. Not necessarily because I wanted to be popular but merely as a source of satisfaction. I wanted to be liked; to be perceived as admirable. And so, I would be in a gathering of young people like myself, but rather than be me, I’d be thinking of how best to conform, look and feel like a part of them.
I would have divergent views on an issue and rather than open up for intelligent conversation and learning, I would say to myself, ‘What if they don’t agree with my views? Wouldn’t it look stupid to be the only one with a different perspective?’ Worse still, if I was involved in a discourse already, I’d end up bending my points and stance in order not to displease their sensibilities. You know those arguments that end with ‘Ehn, we are saying the same thing na but in a different way’?
Many times, perhaps when the situation was past redeeming, I would find that it was exactly what I had in mind that was really needed. But for fear of not being accepted, I would have kept away from a chance that could have fostered profitable friendships or even amazing opportunities.
I cannot exactly point out a particular day when this became a part of me. Maybe, it developed over time. I also cannot identify what prompted the decision to henceforth validate myself, to feel authentic from within without waiting for someone else to do that for me. But over time, I have found that it is truly easier to live life without having to depend on what someone else thinks. Biko ask yourself: Do these people depend on what I think about them? Hakuna the heck not!
Do you know the root cause of seeking external validation? It’s plain and simple. Knowledge and Ignorance. I know you’re thinking Words and Opposite…but please stay with me.
Photo credit: Sydney Rae on Unsplash
Thing is this, we know so much of our failings and so little of the failings of others that we glorify them; putting them on a higher pedestal than we would if we actually saw their bigger picture. We see their lives from the view of a framed portrait. The beauty and perfect finishing is evident – gleaming gold, luxurious detailing and what not. But the rough edges of the canvas have been trimmed off, tucked in neatly to give a decent look. Get this, we don’t need any validation from outside ourselves to feel a certain way.
You see, some decisions will remain dormant until you come to the realization that it is totally up to you to make them. Your principles and most important life values will only come to full maturity when you begin to understand that you are your own person, responsible for what you do with this your one chance at life. Imagine waiting for your parents to make certain moral choices for you when they have no clue about such value-systems in the first place or they refused to identify with such ethics.
Don’t misconstrue this. It’s absolutely important to follow the guidance of those you respect or seek their opinion on crucial matters. However, never forget this: We’re here now, for real. Life is no dress rehearsal. There isn’t anyone who has comprehensive knowledge about life all by himself, or who did not learn from someone ahead of him. We’re all in this together, we haven’t got a clue (well…until we do). So, don’t look at others and think they’ve got it all figured out.
New flash! We all have potential – to learn, unlearn and relearn. For everyone you know today, there are three cardinal points to their being: who they were; who they are; and who they can be. What assurance do you have that, tomorrow, that very lively person you admire wouldn’t go seeking a way to become more solemn because they’ve been called ‘unserious’?
The bottom line is this – Don’t let anyone guilt-trip you into believing that what you think of yourself, what you stand for, or your intrinsic worth are inconsequential (as long as you are on a sensible, responsible path). Don’t be doing crime and claiming; ‘This is who I am’. O.Y.O is your case.
Everyone is on a journey within themselves to attain their standards. That journey is yours and it is very much valid.
Peace and Love.
Photo credit: Charisse Kenion on Unsplash
About the author:
Hello! I’m ‘Dayo Onabade, an habitual daydreamer, an avid reader, and unrepentant scribbler. I am an ardent believer in feminism minus men-bashing; and I think Jollof Rice is overrated. #DODO is Bae. I share my thoughts on Instagram at @the_aphorist_
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We will all be fine………. regardless of our journey, if we want to be