I was 17 years old. My mother and I were on a trip to the Oregon coast, a place we both loved. Generally rugged and wild and windy, it was a blue-sky day worthy of summer clothes.
Climbing onto a large, rough rock for a photo-worthy moment, I posed in my bohemian skirt and elasticized neck white blouse. I wore a scarf over my hair, tied under the back of my gypsy-shag haircut. Considering that under the scarf lurked a bad experience at the salon–a far too short cut on top and baby bangs I hadn’t wanted–I felt pretty.
I was posing the heck out of that skirt and scarf when my mother said, “I had a friend when I was your age who looked beautiful no matter what–she could have worn a burlap sack and been striking!”
She reminisced a bit longer about this amazing young woman, and all the while I held my breath. Just like me, please say just like me….
She didn’t. It wasn’t in my mother’s nature to flatter. She was telling a story that had been inspired by what I’m sure were my own self-deprecating comments about my hair, but not so that she could assure me I still looked pretty. It was just about the memory of her amazing friend.
Decades later I was in a conversation when I realized I was subtly posing the heck out of my new outfit and freshly styled hair, waiting for the other person to comment on how good I looked. Suddenly it hit me–I’m still waiting for somebody else to make me feel that I look nice! I’m always waiting for somebody ELSE to give me worth….
Sure, I will always love being on the receiving end of a compliment, but any feeling of real contentment needs to come from inside–from within me. In that moment I realized that I’m the one who needs to love me, I’m the person who needs to feel good about how I look, who needs to rock the new hairstyle. If I wait for someone else to give me the opinion I want to hear I could be waiting a long time–clearly sometimes decades.
TheBringYourOwnBeverage conversation: Validation means to demonstrate or support the truth or value of: recognize or affirm the validity or worth of (a person or their feelings or opinions); cause a person to feel valued or worthwhile. Where do you get your validation, from others or from yourself? Which do you find lasts the longest?