It’s Okay: To Seek Validation From People You Care About
In It’s Okay, we defend our most embarrassing, unpopular opinions.
Social circles, movies, T.V, internet cliques, workplace groups, the universe at large feel a deep, abiding love for the person who couldn’t care less for validation. Whether it is the surly, emotionally unavailable protagonist in a romantic comedy, or the lovable, deadpan protagonist of a sit-com, their lack of emotional upheaval draws us to them irresistibly.
Watching this play out in real life has made us think that subtle power hierarchies in real life romantic relationships and social groups favor those who exude a lack of need. Thus, we’ve learnt to peacock our jadedness about, internally screaming at the sheer effort it takes to respond to a text message after fifteen minutes. Or worse, saying “yeah whatever” when the person you’re in love with would like to continue seeing other people. It seems as if our superhuman effort to bury all emotions will achieve a level of chill so significant that our organs may fall off from the resultant frostbite.
Writer Alanna Massey, in her essay ‘Against Chill,’ observed a difference between the ‘Cool Girl’ and the Chill Girl — two different tropes that we feel we must live up to in order to be validated and loved. She writes, “The ‘Cool Girl’ is, of course, remarkably dull in her interests because they center almost exclusively on the man with whom she is so inexplicably enraptured. But the ‘Cool Girl’ has no Chill. She likes him far too much and lets it show. Chill is different — it is agreeable because it is emotionally vacant. Chill is what Cool would look like with a lobotomy and no hobbies. And for a large subset of the population, Chill is one of the most desirable qualities in a romantic prospect.”
Our attempts at non-committal behavior are a transparent, albeit, roundabout need for validation. We’d rather hide, deceive, confound, manipulate, and evade, rather than just asking for the validation we want. This is because we’re a lot more afraid of being laughed at than losing sight of who we are.
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Perhaps it’s time to set aside the need to hold superiority, or the upper hand, in all social interactions, as it is clearly inhumane, and straight up silly. The reason we feel attracted to people who seem ‘chill’ is not because they exude a lack of need, but because they are satiated. People who are comfortable and relaxed surround themselves with loved ones whom they can ask for validation, when needed. There is a difference between the deadened chill of someone trying to protect themselves, versus the relaxed chill of someone who feels good in their skin. The latter cannot be faked, and the less you become a slave to your need for power in social situations, the quicker you notice the utter dullness of such pretense.
Is there any joy, any thrill in living like this? What is to life, if you cannot spit your displeasure and gush your compliments, and simply embrace the things you feel as good for you, rather than viewing healthy and normal needs to feel loved as weaknesses to fear? Validation is beautiful, wanting it is natural, and when it is obtained via healthy communication, it almost pumps life back into you. Why deny yourself this very simple pleasure, or work so hard to obtain it in such roundabout fashions?
The need to feel validated, or worthy, of others’ affections is such little effort to satisfy for those who truly adore you. And if they disagree, it is time to walk away. It will feel awful, but that’s just another of many emotions thrown in there to make life interesting. Feeling things is fine. Stop constipating your emotions, and use that energy to ask for validation.