Letters of Life


Validation: 1. Finding or testing the truth of something; 2. Affirmation, support, or confirmation.

Validate comes from the root word valid, which has its Latin root in validus: “strong, effective”, which in turn comes from the word valere—be strong, or valiant.

So when someone says something good about you or your skill, or what you’ve created or done, it strengthens your own belief in yourself, shores up waning self-confidence worn thin by self-doubt and inner weariness.

We all need validation. The social media, it seems, is the quickest means to get it. Any number of ‘friends’ just has to click the like button of your post/update/newsfeed/link/comment/photo and they’ve made your day. All you need is one like really, because on any given bad day, that’s all you really need.

The problem with social media as a means to an end is that the speed at which that kind of validation is given is roughly how long the validation lasts, the strength of its impact, on you. Meaning in that the few seconds it takes someone to read and hit the like button is how long you feel good about yourself based on the likes and responses of your posts. It’s not much.

There’s a subtle underlying message which if you’re feeling inferior about yourself is perpetuated online, and that is you’re only as good as your last post. We all know this is untrue, inaccurate, and the product of an overactive imagination. Still, there are some days I feel this way, and unless I’m the only salmon swimming against the current, I’m sure variations of this thought has crossed somebody else’s mind before. (If you agree or disagree, please tell me. I’d love to hear a different point of view. And no, you don’t have to like it.)

That’s why many of us (me) feel the drive (and have to resist the urge) to keep posting stuff online. You can’t coast very long on yesterday’s likes and superficial comments, even the kinds that implicitly say “Hey, I like you” or “Yes, we are good friends” and for the vain ones, “I think you’re gorgeous.”

This is my favourite, when my fa–I mean, friends, like pictures posted of myself. My sisters across the sea never fail to give me a boost with their thumbs when I feel less-than-attractive and would like their thoughts on the matter. (Yes, this is Facetious Friday.)

And why not? The time someone I hugely admire paid me a huge compliment—well, that carried some clout and carried me quite a distance.

Sometimes, the green-eyed monster that is the not-so-hidden facet of Facebook rears its head and other people’s place or situation in life, in this moment in time, just now as the online world puts it, looks more glamourous and wonderful than your own. Especially the holiday pictures. But yes, they are nice to look at.

The truth is, you are at the right place at the right time. If there were wrong places, and all manner of being somewhere at the wrong time, no one would ever get it right, would we?

I heard it said that you have got to believe that you are at the best party right where you are right here, right now. I’m not talking about the neverending, entertaining party of mostly-trivial chatter and photoshopped photos that makes up the contents of anyone’s Facebook’s newsfeed on any given day. Even if other people’s party pictures look like they’re in the middle of inventing sliced bread or some contraption that enables us to walk on water.

Sometimes we forget that without changing a thing, what we are and who we are is enough. Enough for the One who created you, who placed you where you are in this whole wide world for a purpose or purposes, for life as I’ve lived it thus far has so many facets that I believe I’m much like a traveller’s adaptor: I have multiple uses.

The external validations that go a long way with me seem to lie outside the boundaries of Facebook. These are the encouraging words of a friend uttered to my face, over tea and nice things to eat, the kind words written out with some effort in an e-mail, a concerned text, one-to-one conversations a step or two away from the public platform of the social network. (I’m a fan of Facebook Messenger: it gets so much done in so little time.)

Ultimately, what matters is that you believe in yourself, and accept who you are, for when the outside voices go silent, what will you listen to? These are the prayers of a desperate heart that seeks, not after validation, but for the One who made us.In finding the Creator, we find our fullest identity, hidden in the mysteries and the still, small voice that is God’s.

I’m in the midst of rethinking what this blog should be about, what I should spend my time writing about. If you’ve come this far in the post, I’d appreciate it if you could answer the question below. I could use the feedback. Thanks!

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4 Responses »

  1. Basically – I dislike self-validation.
    To me in my little world I have learned never to look to others for validation. Validation of my worth or as a friend, lover, actually in any sense of the word.
    To me to seek validation in others for myself is a form of emotional servitude or slavery.
    Disregarding others opinions and living your own life sets you free.
    I love Salvador Dali and any/all ‘surrealist’ art. I do not understand all of it but I understand – in my limited way – the artist.

  2. Grand Poobah:: I like the way you are secure in your own identity. Some of us have to wait to get to be 40 before we stop looking for external validation. 😀

  3. I like external validation, because that’s what it is — external and going to remain that way. It reminds me to be myself. It’s the internal validation that creeps me out, me telling me that I am good? I’d rather tell me that I don’t have to trust external validation than tell me that I’m trusting my own. That’s why one has to be exceptionally sober and contrary when validating anything. 😀

  4. It’s exceptionally difficult to be sober and contrary when validating stuff, particularly on the online network, which tends to perpetuate feeling good about the smallest thing. For people (especially my younger friends who seem less aware), the online social network can be a deceptive experience.

    Because of the unfortunate axiom “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder,” most women like me have to rely on external validation as the *only* truth when it comes to dress. E.g. “Do I look fat in this?” and the (sometimes) fabrication, “No.” 😀

    Thanks for reading and commenting and responding to the poll.

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