random thoughts

Validation

There’s a bit from my blog post yesterday that I’ve been mulling over today. It keeps popping up in various places – in how I judge if the email I sent was a good idea, in how I know if an idea I have is a good one, in how I rank races and workouts.

I’m not talking about explicit feedback or getting a go/no-go decision at work before proceeding. I’m talking about feeling validated that a decision I made, an action I took, is “right.” In the context of yesterday’s post, that others whom I measure myself against also had slower-than-what-I’d-expect race times.

It’s that buzz that hearing “yeah, me too” brings. That sense of relief that I’m doing “it” right, that I’m not alone, that I’m… normal.

What is that all about? I don’t think it’s caring how others think, per se. I don’t think it’s needing to be right at the expense of others being wrong. Is it a type of insecurity? A way to feel connected to others? Maybe both?

What this infers is that I define everything in relative terms, and not how I see them in absolute terms in my head, in my world. This means constant comparing, measuring, analyzing… and I always come up short. This has actually given me many positive things: a strong work ethic, a desire to produce quality work, dogged determination. It also has given me the fear of rocking the boat and sometimes debilitating perfectionism. I first confronted this contradiction when reading and then taking Tara Mohr’s Playing Big book and course – she talks about getting so tied to praise that we can’t do anything without it. For me, doing well in school and being “the good one” was my way of eliciting praise and having a place in my family.

The sad thing is, even without Facebook and all things social media to give you a constant stream of fodder for comparison, I think everyonedoes this to some degree. We are all comparing the superficial vision of what someone else’s life appears to be to us with the very complex, dirty, deep vision of what we know to be true in our own life. Talk about comparing apples with oranges. There’s no way we can live up to our expectations when our expectations aren’t based in reality (no, Instagram isn’t real – it’s all about sins of omission). If our self-worth is tied into meeting these expectations, then we’re doomed.

That “yeah, me too” helps me know that no one else has all their shit together. That I’m not crazy for having struggles and imperfections. And, more importantly, that I’m not admitting weakness by talking about it.

So, I’ll be trying to talk about it here a lot more. I vow to step out of my comfort zone and admit my shortcomings and vocalize my struggles. I’m constantly amazed that, when I do, I don’t feel weak – I feel strength in my tribe and closer to those around me.

Tara Mohr

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