Monday, March 14, 2011

External Validation

My parents came down this weekend to visit and make sure that I was still alive =)
Check! I think my mom was particularly relieved to see that I actually (gasp!) had some food in my apartment, haha.

Needless to say, we had a great time spending the day together. We explored Richmond, hung out in my apartment, played with my cats, and devoured the best pizza (in my opinion)in Richmond, slices from Bellmont Pizzeria. I spent a lot of time pointing out street corners and saying, "That dude [insert name of boy/ ex-boyfriend] lives here." (Tangent--it's kind of weird, but the vast majority of the people I regularly hang out with live within four blocks of my apartment. City living is pretty sweet, right?) Unfortunately, my parents didn't get a chance to meet any of my friends, but we still had a great time.

During the course of the visit, however, I realized something a bit unsettling about my state of mind. On Saturday afternoon, we walked to this old bookstore on Main Street, Black Swan Books, and I was looking at a few books with my dad. All of a sudden, I needed his validation of how I'm looking/ doing. So I said, casually (or so I hoped), "It doesn't look like I've gained weight, does it?"

Surprised, he turned from the chess books, and said, "Of course not. You've lost weight. You look great." I instantly felt a little silly, but that didn't stop me from asking my mom the same question =) This leads me to wonder, why do I seek validation about my appearance, my apartment, my city, etc from my parents? After all, I'm 25 years old, I make my own decisions (for better or for worse) and I don't "need" my parents' approval anymore. But I still want it.

This problem of mine extends past my parents, however, and into my other relationships, with guys, friends, and even mere acquaintances...because I'm looking for external validation. Particularly during times when I know that I'm not living as well as I ought to, I look for outside approval, i.e. I figure that everything is okay as long as that guy thinks I'm hot, or my parents approve of the way I've furnished my apartment. But in the end, their validation doesn't satisfy me for long and, like a drug, I keep coming back for more. So, bottom line, I need to develop my own sense of self worth so that I can take compliments/ insults for what they are--other people's opinions--rather than statements that completely define me. I know that I'm stronger than this! I just need to live my life in a way that satisfies me and makes me happy, so that I don't have to keep seeking approval from others.

Sorry for the disjointed post. I just wanted to share these thoughts...Does anyone else struggle with this issue?


  1. I do! So if you figure out how to get past it, help a girl out and let her know!

  2. I definitely struggle with seeking outside approval and making sure I don't let the opinions define me, but it's hard. On the other hand, its very easy to be your own worst critic, so sometimes other people's opinions can be helpful in making you realize you really haven't gone off the deep end when you're being hard on yourself.

  3. Well said. I always feel less needy of external approval when I know I have made good choices.

  4. I think in a way its just human nature to want external approval. I definitely do it too

  5. I'm getting better and better and not listening to that voice that tells me to seek external validation!

    But... it's still a struggle most days. For me, I love hearing, "I love you" from my boyfriend, and I will sometimes say it JUST to get an, "I love you, too". I've talked about it with him, and his response was to start saying it more often. ;-) But I still wonder why I need to hear it, even when I already know.

    I love to hear people tell me that I'm getting "too thin". Sick, isn't it?! My mom tells me this every time she sees me. I act annoyed, but secretly am pleased. Because I know that if my mom is saying that, I'm not fat anymore, since she sees overweight = healthy.

    I do think it's normal to seek your parents' approval. I seek my brother's approval most of all, and I hate when I feel as if I'm "letting him down" with my life decisions.