Yes, I want “validation” and There’s Nothing Wrong with That

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I’m growing weary of hearing people joke about other people “needing validation.” What’s so wrong with wanting to be validated as a fellow human being? Everyone on this earth needs to know there is someone that approves of them. It’s natural to want to belong, to feel loved and admired.

I’m sure you can seek to be validated in unhealthy ways, maybe think about it too much, but there have to be healthy ways to get it too. Man is not an island, they say. To wall yourself off from the world, to not give one single fuck what anyone else says, seems just as mentally unstable as those that change everything about themselves to fit in.

When you go out for coffee with a friend and share pictures of your kids or talk about a project you’re working on or a vacation you took, are you “seeking validation?” It doesn’t seem like it to me. Isn’t that connecting with other humans, bonding over common experiences, or simply sharing the joy?

If I post a picture of the book I’m reading on Instagram or share the meme I thought hilarious on Facebook, am I “seeking validation?” No. I’m attempting to bond with other humans.

Social media is not evil incarnate. Wanting to share my life experiences with distant friends and family, hell, even complete strangers is not wrong. Yes, we can be pretty fucked up online. I’ve never seen people talk to each other in person the way they do in a Facebook group. It’s pretty damn disgusting if you ask me, and I have learned to steer clear of those social situations, the same way I kept away from frat parties in college and office parties when I worked. They are not my cup of tea.

I am seeking validation when I post on my social media accounts. And there is nothing wrong with that. Those of you that think you are just so above everyone else because you refuse to share your thoughts and opinions with the world, go have your fun. But me? I’ll be here, happily posting the badass muffins I made, the wonderful view from my porch, and the sweet love meme I found while scrolling through Instagram. Each morning I’ll be here with my coffee, typing out words for posts like these and stories I make up in my head and then I’ll post them for others to read and laugh at or be inspired by.

I do want to be part of a larger group of humans and there is no shame in wanting to belong, to be accepted. No, I won’t change how I feel or what comes naturally to me to make you want to like me, but I also won’t hide it away. I’m here. I’m a little off-kilter, as my Grandpa would say. I’m not always nice, but I try to be. I’m excessive at times. I find the strangest things and the commonest things fascinatingly beautiful.

I’ll be here sharing those things with the world in the hopes that someone out there likes the same things I like or finds something awesome they didn’t know about until I shared it. And yes, I’ll be checking back to see if anyone “liked” it. I’ll be hoping someone out there will make a comment and say, “Hey person I don’t know! That’s awesome! Thanks!” because, to me, the whole point of living is connecting with the other humans in this world and social media makes that possible.

Peddle your negativity somewhere else, here there is only love and the hope of meeting a new friend.

Wild For A Time

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Photo by Michael Anfang on Unsplash

Do you trust me?

Will you let me go feral for a time?
Will you take the reins and tame me again when I return?
Will you be the stable I can return to, hot and sweaty from my run in the wild?
Will you hold me tight, wash the dirt and sweat away, and bed me down?

Can I trust you?

Letter to My Grumpy Self

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Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

Dear Me,

I know you’re tired and grumpy. I know you are frustrated with yourself. I know you want so badly to do better, to complete more tasks, to be more organized, to eat better, to be stronger and healthier.

I know you want to run out into the world screaming obscenities. I know you want to connect with other humans on a deeper level, to spend quality time with real friends, and to run away and hide at the same time.

I know you’re thinking, last week was so good, why does this week suck so bad? Why can’t I stay on track? Why can’t I keep up the pace? Everyone else seems to be able to do so much and here I am grumbling. You feel lazy and “out of sorts.”

I know you don’t want to hear this but you are enough right where you are. Your house is clean enough. Your family and friends love you just the way you are. You honor your commitments. You love people unconditionally. You do your best.

Life is a big series of cycles, ups and downs that keep things interesting. Imagine how boring it would be if every day you got up and felt the same way? Even joy starts to get depressing if its all you ever experience!

The kids are distracting you. Embrace them. They’re teenagers. They’ll be gone soon, just like the exhausting babies, the disruptive and messy kids, and anxious and annoying preteens they used to be and that you miss so much when you see those old pictures.

The weather has changed, and you can’t go outside and do the thing you were doing last week. Notice and enjoy it. Remember last month when you sat there crying for cooler weather?

You’re feeling blue and less than productive. Look at the amazing week you had earlier this month and the not so productive one you had before that. It’ll come back. It always does.

Don’t ruin today worrying about tomorrow or lamenting yesterday. Find something positive to focus on. Or, even better, make the conscious decision to enjoy the moment instead. Grab a cup of tea, your book, and find a place to hide for a bit. Sing along with those crazy teens practicing guitar in the middle of the living room where you were trying to vacuum. Write out some words of encouragement to yourself and post it. Forget dinner and order a pizza. Harass your husband to go for a walk, even though it’s cold. And be thankful for what you have, who you have, and what you can do.

Take care of yourself, love. I love you, every messy, tired, pissy, and confused piece of you.

Love,

You

Personal Narratives Can Change

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Photo by Liana Mikah on Unsplash

We all have stories about how things are supposed to work out. We get them from our parents, our extended family, friends, education, entertainment, everywhere. The trouble is, they aren’t always true, or at least they aren’t true for everyone. What happens when we run into a reality that conflicts with our established narratives? Motion sickness.

I’ve always been very susceptible to motion sickness. I was the kid in the back seat of the VW bug complaining that it was too hot and turning green on the way to the grocery store. I was the one that had to sit in the front seat with the AC on in my face. I’m the one using every trick in the book, from deep breathing to focusing intently on the road ahead, to keep from having to pull over and rest on the way to anything. And not just on mountain roads! I can get sick just driving down the freeway if someone asks me to look at the map!

Motion sickness is said to be caused by a conflict between your eyes and your ears. Your eyes tell your brain that you are still, but your inner ear says that you are moving. Conflicting information causes your body to rebel and become nauseous. I’m not sure what evolutionary help this is, but it does cause someone like me to reflect on the bigger picture.

As we grow we all create these personal narratives. They make it easier and more streamlined to deal with all of life. This works like this. He acts like this. This relationship works this way. We don’t need to think about those things as much. We put them in the back of our head and work on the new things.

But what if the story we’ve built in our heads about how things are supposed to go doesn’t match the reality of the situation we are currently in? Anxiety, anger, depression, that nauseous feeling that something is horribly wrong!

Just like when I start to get motion sickness, it’s time to focus on the reality and take some deep breaths because things are about to change. It’s what I have learned to call a “growth point,” the place in my life that I learn something new, my world is about it become bigger. It can be so scary though. What if reality isn’t nearly as good as my fantasy? Then again…how can one live in a fantasy permanently? Life, no matter how complicated, is much easier to deal with when we accept the reality, or at least as close as we can come to it.

Change is unavoidable. How we deal with those changes is what makes the difference in our lives.

Do we hold on to what we believed to be true and ignore reality? Do we get angry and blame the people around us for letting us down? Do we walk away from situations, people, environments when they fail to meet our expectations? It doesn’t seem very productive. If we keep searching for the world that matches our narratives as we know them, we may never find it. We may just keep walking away from the very people and places that are offering us the opportunity to grow into something better.

What else can I do? I could stop, take a deep breath, and make some space for my feelings first. Things are changing, something is different. What is it and how can I see it more clearly? I could ask some questions. Is this person or situation failing me, deliberately hurting me, or causing me some kind of trouble? Or are they only doing what they have always done, doing what’s best for them at the moment? Will it really hurt me? Is it really wrong? Looking at the situation or person with an open heart helps. I want to understand.

What seems to help is talking to a special someone, someone that is as open to change as I am, someone that has no stake in the game. That person is hard to find and changes according to the situation. I’m not really looking for advice what I talk. I’m only looking for feedback, someone that will ask questions from a different point of view and is willing to go down some crazy rabbit holes with me. Talking to the wrong person can make my situation infinitely worse. I’ve learned to be very selective.

When I lack another human to speak with, I write. And I write a lot. I write whatever comes to mind, even the meanest and nastiest thoughts. Writing out the hurt and the angry words, the words sparked by fear and mistrust, seems to release them into the void and make space for clearer thinking. Once my narrative is out on paper alongside of the potential for change, I feel like I can think more logically. I come back to that same writing the next day and walk away feeling stronger and ready to embrace change, only to come screaming back to scrawl on the walls of my paper cave over and over again.

I talk to myself on the pages. I fight and scold and lecture, I listen and give myself feedback. Lord, I hope no one reads that stuff some day and has me committed! Some of it strongly resembles the raving of a very sick person. But maybe that’s the reality of it. At moment, I am sick. What my eyes see and what my inner ear feels doesn’t match, and my mind is reacting violently. But I know from experience, the feeling is only temporary. Focus and adjust, take a rest from the effort, and try again. It’s the only way to grow.

Battles

Something I’ve found very true over the last several years is that people really love their labels and will fight you to the death to keep them.

The biggest battles I’ve heard between good people are over who is a “real” Christian, homeschooler, vegan, etc., and who is not. There are millions of other labels out there. I’m sure you can think of a few that you put on yourself.

I was warned years ago, not to put labels on my children as we raised them without school. We learned to look at that individual child, their likes and dislikes, their quirks, their preferences, their patterns, and love them. We supported them to get they wanted or needed, not because that’s how this label needs things, but because that’s how this particular child learns best at this moment in time.

This past month I’ve been looking at and discovering some new ways of living and relating. I instantly began to label myself and as I looked at that label and the myriad of different people that choose that label, I started to feel bad about myself because I didn’t seem to measure up. I wasn’t “real.”

And that’s when I saw it. Labels really do suck. They tie you down to a prescribed list of details that may or may not relate to you, that may not help you at all but hinder you because you can’t wrap your head around that part of the label.

I dropped the label in my mind. I stopped following and attempting to join groups that called themselves by that label and suddenly I felt so much better.

I’m not a “real” anything but the “real” Michelle.

Who Are You?

Really? I mean who is more real, the person you think you are in your head or the person people see you as?

Everyone sees you differently. They see you through their own filter and the one you use toward them. I project a different person to my children than I do to my friends, to my online and in-person friends, and differently to family members, too. And each of those people sees me through their own filter of experience and personality. I’d have to say none of those people see the “real” me in its entirety. Everyone censors themselves to some degree or another, consciously or not.

And then there is the me in my own head. Is she the “real” me? Maybe, but that me changes quite a bit from day to day, sometimes from hour to hour. She can make me proud when she is kind, loving, and patient. She can be confident and outgoing. She can be impulsive and fun. And then sometimes I just don’t know what to make of her. She scares me when she seems cruel, angry, hurt, and spiteful for no reason whatsoever. I try to hide her away on those days, but she always seems to creep out somewhere. Her damage is hard to repair.

I wonder what it would be like to be able to get inside someone’s head for a day. Would we recognize that friend? Would we sympathize, or at least understand better? Or would not be able to see around our own filters?

“Take Care of Yourself”

There was the cutest video on Facebook the other day. It was of a little girl, maybe three or four years old, working on her car seat buckle. The dad asked if he could help and she just politely and firmly says “You take care of youself.” And then she goes back to work on it, “Thank you.”

I’ve watched it at least three times, showing it to my son once as well. Her little voice is so sweet and confident. I was struck by the profoundness of it as well. In her own little way, she summed up a philosophy we should do well to adopt, “You take care of yourself.”

Most of the time we are all more worried about taking care of others whether they want our help or not. What if we waited until they asked for help? What if we let people alone to struggle, projecting an air of peaceful helpfulness nearby until they reached out? How many more people would learn from their struggles and take care of themselves better and with more confidence?

And what if we did take care of ourselves first? I hear about “self-care” online several times a day, but what does it really mean? We need to know ourselves to do that, don’t we?

It seems to be one of those circular problems, to get one we need to master the other, to get that we need to master something else. As an adult, I think starting with ourselves is logical. To help anyone else, we have to be secure in our own person, have our own shit sorted out.

I’m not sure exactly how anyone does that, but I know that it helped me to start with meditating on awareness every morning. Ick, “awareness,” I know. Cliché lately, yes, but it’s true. I started on being aware of myself, my likes and dislikes, my feelings and triggers. I journaled. I started asking why I did things, why I felt certain ways. That has snowballed into some amazing, life changing ways of doing things. I started to just let a lot of things go, dealing with only the most important things, and then most of the ugliness in my life started to sort itself out. It’s been a good five years or so, and it keeps getting better.

I wrote this on my old blog a few years ago and found it today while I was scrolling through old posts. I thought it was relevant to my current thoughts.

Real, lasting peace begins with your own mind and body, extends to those in your home, neighborhood, and town, and then moves out into the world.

Until everyone finds that peace in their inner sphere of influence, there is no hope of that peace finding its way into the wider world.

Pray and meditate on how you can increase the peace of your own home before you worry about what other people are doing.

As a Christian, I know that God has His hand on my heart and I can do all things through Him. Lord, I pray that those who want Your peace have the courage to take it and keep it in their hearts, extending that love to those around them unconditionally.