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?
I get a lot of validation from friends (hi, Friend!) I’m learning that, if we allow it, good friends can be like the
loving and affirming mothers and sisters we never had. (At least sometimes–I think it’s a part-time gig.)
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I agree! Good friends (hi, Good Friend!) are often more wise and accepting than the people we craved wisdom and acceptance from.
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