Who ever said that there is nothing to be learned from reality TV? While watching Basketball Wives LA recently (admittedly my TV line-up still includes the ratchet), something that one of the women said made me hit the stop, rewind, and play buttons a good three times back to back. Following a loud-talking, profane-laced scene in which she was the target of her castmate’s fury, one of the women calmly looked into the camera and said, “Validation is for parking, not people boo.”
My jaw dropped. My face scrunched up with an “ooohh she finished them with that one” look as her words continued to ring over and over in my head.
Validation is for parking, not people. Validation is for parking, not people. Validation is for parking, not people.
That night, I thought about just how right the Basketball Wives star is. Then I got to thinking about why validation is so important to all of us–something that we all so desperately seek. I believe that reality TV and social media are largely to blame. Since their birth, we have had a front row seat to the lives of the rich and famous and “wanna be” rich and famous. The message of our culture is that the most beautiful, the richest, the flossiest, the most celebrated are the ones who matter. Many of us, including me, have tried to keep up with the Joneses. We have altered our minds, bodies, and have had our spirits infiltrated in our quest to establish our identities and self-worth through legions of “likes,” comments, retweets, and reposts.
We seek the approval and praise of people we know peripherally, and in some cases not at all, to tell us how pretty we are. How stylish we are. How accomplished we are. How absolutely freaking amazing we are. But why can’t we tell ourselves these very same things, and it mean just as much to us? Do we not believe all that is good about ourselves and have to be assured? Or do we seek endless validation because deep down we know that the person who we are presenting to the world is not really who we are, but who we wish to be? No one should love, admire, or validate us more than we do ourselves. And if that be the case, time for a serious self-check. As Lauryn Hill once asked, “How you gonna win if you ain’t right within?”
At one point, I really had to consider the way in which I was using my own social media. Yes, I primarily used it as intended–to connect with friends and acquaintances. But there were times when I needed to feel like I mattered–to somebody, somewhere. Or that despite the shortcomings, calamities, and outright failures of my life, people still valued me.
But as I continued to grow in my womanhood, people’s approval or validation of me diminished to the point that I do not seek or need it whatsoever. I now stand in my truth–the good and the bad. And that truth is that I am a divorced single-mom who has made some disastrous choices, but have not been destroyed by them thanks to God’s mercy. That I am still striving to and will create my best life. That I am ever-growing in my spirituality and knowledge of self. That I will always wish to be four to five inches taller. That I am hopeful that a fulfilling love will one day come, but discerning enough to wait for it. That I am still sugar-fiending in my quest to be sugar-free and, of course, still wine drinking. That I am yoga-obsessed to balance my mood swinging. That I am always writing and often reading. That I have zero tolerance for foul living by myself or others. That I am grateful to love and be loved by those in my life. That I do not need a slew of friends only a few true ones. That sometimes I cry when I don’t have the strength. That I am not too good at forgiving. That I have learned that anything not for me always works against me. That I’m constantly striving to be the best mother that I can be. That I am so proud of who I’ve become and ultimately will be.
And, most importantly, that it is I, and no one else, who validates me.