Toronto Ontario – Validation can be dangerous. It’s addictive; like taking drugs once and spending your whole life chasing that dragon.
It starts off small; a harmless compliment from a stranger as you make your way home from the bar, a few drinks after work because you just got a promotion. Skipping a lecture because you stayed up all night to write a report for a different class but validation is like the purest powder and a single taste has you reeling, asking for more when you know you should probably stop. It has us justifying our actions; we tell ourselves: we deserve this, we earned it. We act like it means nothing when in reality it means everything.
I like to feel wanted. Being shown that I am is how I get my own kind of validation. I like walking into a place where everyone notices my presence and is happy to see me; I’ll spend more money and time at places where the people are warm and friendly. That’s how I find it; I tell myself that I belong because they make me feel like I do.
Sometimes I won’t say anything when a guy hits on me even though I know I’m not interested because the attention feels good. I feel good and I justify their actions because it makes me feel special. That’s why sometimes after a long day at work I feel the need to go out with friends. I need someone to tell me how great I am and that they missed me. It sounds pathetic but all of us do it, we all seek validation in our lives, we want to feel like we are important, we want to be special, we want to be needed… wanted even.
Maybe you buy shoes after an awful day and you think: hey I earned it; or that extra shot of whiskey on your birthday because it’s your birthday, even though you are already trashed and should probably just Uber home. The phrase- treat yourself, often comes to mind when I think of validation. Buy the cruise, go to the concert, hook up with that person, get drunk…. treat yourself.
Do you have any idea how many times I’ve said that just before I went and did something incredibly stupid? It’s like saying YOLO and then jumping off a building because you were dared too. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb!
I could easily cross a line and ruin one of the best things I’ve ever had if I really wanted too simply on validation alone, either for my work or looks. I could justify doing something wrong because it felt good to do it in the moment and that’s what’s so dangerous about it. It’s easy just to say, YOLO! It’s harder to walk away from the validation after it’s already been justified.
As a teenager did you ever sneak out of the house after your parents had gone to bed to meet that boy or girl that you liked? And in that moment did you not tell yourself it’s worth it? Did you not justify your actions because you knew it would make you feel good? In high school we rebelled to feel like more than we were, now as adults we take bigger risks that we don’t consider as risks because it’s already been justified as okay. As humans we have loved and lost simply for the validation. We cheat when something is missing in the relationship- a disconnect from our partner that we try to repair with another. It’s called validation; for how we look, act or feel. That’s why validation and justification, two things that start off as harmless can switch so quickly from good to bad. Like Alice who fell down the rabbit hole and ended up in Wonderland.
When did we become so jaded? When did we become so reliant on others to make us feel important or special?
I realised my validation had me playing with fire when one night at a local bar I go too, I was flirting with a bartender I know and he was flirting back. While we are friends and that in itself was harmless, the attention I attracted after was not.
Others watched our interactions and took that as an opening to talk to me,
I thought yay new friends! While they probably thought, yay new meat! I think how I was perceived that night by the other customers was as a loose-goosy sort of person, which I’m not.
Later that night I was straddling the bar table trying to dunk a used tissue into the trash on the other side and I had my butt slapped. Now you may be thinking she deserved it because she was hanging off the bar…. I only did that because the bar counter is taller than me so to throw anything in the garbage I basically have to lean half of my body over the bar and hold onto the edge of it with one hand to keep myself steady. I didn’t do it to show off my body. I did it so I could see where I was aiming. I did get a slam-dunk with the throw but I also got a bruise. Afterwards he tried to tell me I asked for it. I hadn’t. That’s what validation got me and trying to justify his actions almost got him banned from the bar indefinitely.
The next morning I woke feeling guilty for letting some random guy get away with that because I have a boyfriend and my bum is his. I didn’t do anything, so why did I feel like I had crossed a line? Like I had emotionally cheated when I wasn’t even happy about having my butt slapped?
The sad reality of seeking validation from other people is that the more we seek it the more likely we are going to get it when we don’t want it. The more often we are going to notice when someone else is seeking it. The harder it will be to stop needing validation for anything that we do. It isolates us from the truth, that instead of seeking it from others we should be trying to uncover why we feel we need it.
Why do we need to feel validated?
Why do you need it? It’s like having a little devil sitting on your shoulder and whispering in your ear, do it, do it… do you listen in order to feel good about yourself? Would you risk everything just to feel even the smallest amount of it?
If you knew you were going to get burned would you still be willing to walk through fire just to get to the other side because you knew it would make you feel good for a few minutes?
Born and raised in Toronto, E. V. Hutcheon studied journalism at St Lawrence College in Cornwall Ontario.
She currently lives in Toronto with her family, three dogs and a rabbit, near the Humber River.