It’s the first time I understood what I needed for myself.


Some people seem to know how to validate themselves.

I’ve always seemed to require someone else’s approval. To know that my work, my choices and my existence is what is expected, necessary and important. 

In this article I explore what happens when I seek this validation and this approval and how that impacts on my confidence. This need for validation can make me weaker, though also strengthens my ability to keep standing when faced with assumptions. That I am prepared to be vulnerable is a personification of strength. 

If approval is not forthcoming what does this mean? That contribution is valued less, or that there is no need for justification.

Simply stated, you are here doing what you need to be doing, that’s entirely yours to own.

Where does this need to be seen come from?

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I was born third after seven years of marriage, when the wonder and glitter of volare crashed with the reality of raising a family. I always felt responsible for the care of others, like I had to carry the weight of knowing that we did not have monetary wealth and that I had to work harder to contribute.  I learnt how to go without.

I was the awkward one who got in the way, who fought for inequities and rivalled for my place. I was the punching bag to flexing teenage angst and hormones that ballooned in red hot taunts. 

There was this inability to see or understand that change is inevitable and that children grow up. The impact of migration that promised so much and our parent’s naivety navigating the web of the political environment. We can look back and see it differently now and forgive them knowing that we continue to do our best.

I was a needy child, quiet, I turned to imagination away from the noise of the house, of Father’s heavy boots on linoleum that reverberated with authority, waking us like an alarm, followed by the call of the Rooster from the chicken coop and Mother’s call to chores undone, clucking of chickens after laying eggs. There was always something to be done.

Photo by Pavel Danilyuk on

At five years of age, I was to ride to school and my grade 6 sister and grade 5 brother were responsible for getting me there. I was learning to ride a bike, with training wheels. We were to ride together. Though I needed constant placating, encouragement, and firm orders to get me there. There was a hill, which seemed like a mountain to me.  How many times I tried to get up that hill and found myself unable to control the bike, rolling back down, my poor siblings, frustrated had to fetch me.

Our mother fashioned a solution one morning by tying our bikes together with a rope, back to front, so they could pull me along and up the hill. I do not recall if I was on the end or in the middle of this formation. While this worked well when we were all cycling at the same time, it was when someone had to stop that the momentum caused the impact and a deep gash to my knee, blood pooling down my leg. This added to the degree of difficulty and my anxiety. This was however a defining moment from where I no longer sought the need to be pulled along by someone else. I realised that I had to take control of something myself, or no one could guarantee my safety.  

Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on

It’s the hard stuff that trips us every time. It’s how we sit with it , find a way to get up and keep moving forwards that becomes the strength. With tears, with blood, with scars- to keep going.

Photo by Alexander Tiupa on

Reflecting on this observation of the desire for validation.

I was challenged by a work colleague recently, who told me that I did not know how to manage my time, nor how to problem solve. An observation? An assumption? Truth? 

Who is allowed to define my potential and abilities? Where is self-determination in this judgement?

I did not agree in this assessment. Nor did I ask for it, it was imposed.

If seeking validation from someone else then I need to be able to ask for it. If I seek it I also lay myself open to interpretation and give that person permission to define me. The point is, I am the one who gives permission.

Thus this notion of validation is mine to own.

This made me realise that in a relationship with anyone, be it familiar, work related or other, that we need to be able to ask for what we need. That the relationship is built on the needs that we identify between us and that this is the point at which to start when we work together.

There is a place for all interpretations. Validation feels like this gripping- holding on to the notion of what is important without really being honest with yourself and letting others define that for you. 

We need to be able to tune into our intuition and note our feelings of heart and logic. In this space acknowledge emotions, because they are real, and share experiences because they validate all of us.

Photo by jinjireh on

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