Something very nice happened to me: I was nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award, by Katey from femenish.com. It’s a little funny because the other day when I checked out her blog, I saw that she had written a post on having been nominated for a blogging award, and how it was such a pleasant surprise for her, since she’d only been blogging for a month. That triggered me because I have been blogging for four years (on and off, but still) and I have never been nominated for anything! So I kind of just shut my computer before I even finished reading that post. If I had continued reading, I would have seen that Kat had nominated me.
I thought, “Oh, this is just your insatiable need for others’ validation when you should be the one appreciating your own worth. Work on that instead of hoping that someone else will come along and tell you how wonderful you are.” And I do believe that’s true, others’ approval will never fill our need to feel good about ourselves and what we do, if we can’t also feel that within ourselves. But here’s the thing: I have a tendency to dismiss entire concepts pretty hastily when there’s really only bits that need adjusting.
When I received a message from Katey telling me that she’d nominated me, of course that made me happy, but I was still feeling conflicted about this. Part of me was going “These type of blogger awards are dumb, it’s just people telling other people how great they are in hopes of having others tell them how great they are. That’s what’s so annoying about social media, so little of what is shared is genuine appreciation or shared from wanting to inspire or be of service, most of it is just a cry for approval from others”.
Accepting that you need others, and that others do want to support you is a greater experience than trying to play the lone wolf
Usually that’s where I close that topic but that day a new voice spoke up, and suddenly the conversation in my head took on a different spin:
“People cheering others on, and wanting others to cheer them on – what is so dumb about that? It’s really wonderful actually because, guess what, if you’re waiting for the day where you become this island, where you don’t need anybody else anymore, nobody’s opinion affects you, you’re fully self-sufficient, that day will never come. And besides, why would you even want that? Being needy is part of the human experience, and yes, it’s great to be aware that others can’t fill the hole of low self-esteem, but whatever happened to kindness towards yourself? Maybe accepting your neediness and appreciating that others encouragement means something to you, and that it exists, maybe that is a much greater experience than that lone wolf thing you’ve been trying to pull off.”
Suddenly I could understand why the neediness I so often observed on social media had bothered me so much (and also: why I was seeing it everywhere). It was my own neediness, or rather: my rejection of the fact that I, too, need other people’s support and encouragement.
We can’t dump our issues on others but if we are willing to deal with them ourselves, there are ways for others to support us
I believe that it takes both: we can’t just take our baggage and dump it on somebody. That always backfires, either immediately when we are disappointed that we didn’t get the reaction we hoped for or in the long run. If we find someone who is willing to take our crap and bear it for us, we will eventually be forced to deal with guilt and a sense of powerlessness. But if we are willing to do the work it takes to deal with our own issues, then there are ways for others to genuinely support us. If we turn to others, not blackmailing them emotionally to save us but rather communicating honestly what we’re dealing with, that gives others a chance to be there for us, not as the hostage of our emotions but as our witness.
Being your own witness is the first and most important step. I also know that sometimes it’s not enough for me to see my own mess. I need for at least one friend (or a friendly person) to see it, too. Not to do anything about it – just seeing it, that is all the doing it takes. I don’t think we can or should get rid of that need. It’s usually the attempt to do so that turns us into that annoying needy person. The emotions we’re trying to bottle up (so that we don’t burden others) are forcing their way out and blow up in someones face. And sometimes we have to be ok with that, too.
Here’s to cheering each other on, and here’s to witnessing ourselves and others in all our glory and all our mess. Here’s to knowing that we need each other and knowing that we also have something to offer each other.
Thank you, Katey, for cheering me on with this nomination!
That’s rule #1 btw: when you’re nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award, thank the person who nominated you. In the spirit of keeping things a little not so extremely long anymore, I divvied up this blog post on the VBA. So, if you want to know what this award is about, which 15 bloggers inspire me (that’s rule #2 btw), and which 7 things I want Katey to know about me (rule #3), I have two more posts coming up on each of those. I can hardly believe that this turned into such a big thing but it did! It took me several days just to write the post about which bloggers inspire me. My own “fault” since I wanted to write a little about what inspires me about them – now I know why that’s not in the rules. It’s extremely time-consuming! But I this was the most important part to me, so no regrets for making that time.