We all do. We all suffer from self-esteem issues. We all want to identify where we fit in the environment, and we all have developed different mechanisms for ensuring that we stay securely in the “norm.”
Some of us, though, are so preoccupied with prompting others for this perpetual validation that we begin to eliminate other things that may be more important. Like our own identity. Or our own time to consider our own ideals, perspectives and priorities.
Our self-esteem issues are largely just a shortage of self-reliance; self-assurance. Most of our issues do not immobilize us altogether, but rather allow us to feel more closely aligned with those around us, and they manifest in funny ways. We all use our phone as a social crutch when we walk into a room full of people we don’t know. (You and I both know that you didn’t get an urgent text the very moment you realized you didn’t know anyone here.) We drink more than anybody should, and we drink faster to keep up with the group. We must not ever sit alone on Saturday nights. We count our Facebook friends, we “like” what others already have. We don’t dine or see movies alone. We buy nice cars and nice watches and nice homes. We women dress in revealing clothes, and then not only skip around parties, but then also attend class or go to work in the same garb – granting permission to others to identify us by whatever physical characteristic we’ve showcased. We all fill our mind with meaningless knowledge so that we have something to talk about at the water cooler.
I challenge you: stop doing this. All of it. Not forever – just as an experiment. Stay in on a Friday night, with the tv off, and read. Or write. Or try your hand at oil painting. Or attempt to cook your partner the most elaborate multi-course meal you can find. Go out with friends and don’t drink. Women, go out on a Saturday night in something unflattering. Walk into a room and force yourself to experience the discomfort. And then smile – just smile, and see who smiles back. Go talk to them. Wear a plain white t-shirt every time you leave your home. Eat at the nicest restaurant in town or get box seats to the game and don’t tell anyone afterwards. Talk to people about real things rather than the latest scandal. Refuse and reject empty habits.
Become comfortable in your own skin. Generate your own validation, and become self-sufficient. Relax and relinquish the need for social approval. You are your own evidence of your value.