“Maybe the trick is for me to always be in some sort of disguise,
to always be dressed to play someone else.
Only then can I really appreciate myself.”
~Franny Banks in SOMEDAY,SOMEDAY,MAYBE by Lauren Graham
Approval can be a tricky thing.
There are moments in my life when I feel unquestionably comfortable in my own skin, when it’s easy to appreciate myself.
Like hanging out with my husband and kids. Writing. Chatting with my sister.
Open road, open hearts.
There are times when I don’t feel all that secure, like walking into a room full of strangers alone. Then I can easily get all turtle-like, ready to disappear into my protective shell.
I mean how can you not think about getting external approval when you post on Facebook, step out in a brand new outfit, lose weight, throw a party, publish a book, or throw down what you think has to be the world’s best power point presentation at work?
Wanting acceptance is normal, but it’s cringing to think your happiness is dependent on someone else’s decision.
Reminds me of a moment in college, when I ran into a guy who I’d crushed on in high school. I was dressed up to go out. I was with my friends, I was feeling cute, wearing jeans so tight, I’m surprised my eyeballs didn’t pop out. I didn’t care. Because that night, I possessed my 19-year-old version of my personal stamp of approval.
Of course, this guy–who never looked twice at me when we were sixteen–was suddenly lifting me in the air for a spinning hug.
And telling me how great I looked.
This moment replays VERY clear for me. Believe me, I wasn’t immune to his compliment, but it was jarring in that I knew immediately his opinion didn’t matter to me.
Not because I had some self-esteem super power (I definitely didn’t), or because I suspected a shallowness in his comment based on his once upon a time reaction to me as an awkward sixteen year old (again, I didn’t).
But his approval didn’t matter, because that night I wasn’t looking for approval. I already felt a happy acceptance of myself when I stepped out, one that kind of turned into a perfect storm of esteem for me
Normally, I didn’t feel that secure.
I was used to looking for and needing approval, especially with my grades, SATs, college recommendations, applications, job interviews, boys.
It was kind of never-ending.
But that moment with that once upon a time crush, I had the added benefit of being the first one to validate me. Maybe it wasn’t exactly purposeful, but I carried with me my own stamp of approval.
And self-validation is the most important one.
Sometimes when you’re unsure, it helps to find those moments when you feel most like yourself.
Maybe it’s with your friends or family, maybe it’s when you’re painting, or going for a run.
You are unique, you have your own journey, and your own heart to follow.
And that’s something you can approve.
When do you feel most like yourself? What are your thoughts on approval? Do you have any advice for those struggling with self-esteem?
Have a great week!
Check out children’s author, Lynn Kelly! She’s got funny (and crazy) parenting stories–Parenting Plights & Delights– over at her blog.
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