Was that good?
In college, I placed myself in an unknowingly compromising position. I asked one of my theatre professors who directed and taught me, a question. We were sitting in her office and I was feeling a little nervous, but needing to know, “What are my strengths and weaknesses as an actress?” Her response, “Well (insert long pause) . . . . . . you’re very pretty.” (Insert another long pause). That was it. She even took time to think about it, and that was it! Four years in the theatre program, and that was it.
In a teacher to student relationship, I had given her more authority than her title and human ability were equipped for.
I was hurt, questioned my talent, and allowed doubt to come in. None of us choose our physical features, personality, talents or gifts. It’s not up to you, because you didn’t make you, and many of your life experiences good and bad have shaped you. Your attitude, actions, choices, ability to forgive others and yourself, relationships, character, and perspective have all shaped you. And yet, repeatedly, we unfairly look for confirmation and validation of all the things that make us who we are from a fellow flawed human being.
Too often, we allow the interactions with others and how they choose to treat, to see, or to ignore us to validate us as less, than who we are.
Looking back, I wish I had known in that moment, the professor’s opinion was subjective, not a fact, and had no power in the future of my gifts and talents. And even if she was 100% correct in assessment, she had been incredibly short-sighted, and blind to potential. It took time for me to learn her answer was incomplete.
No one can know how someone will grow, or what potential is asleep inside of them.
Lately, validation has been on mind. This is not to be confused with necessary constructive criticism.
“The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.” – Norman Vincent Peale
Validation – verify, authenticate, prove, confirmation
The school I’m currently studying at, has the intention of removing our need for validation, and it’s amazingly freeing. We give, and receive feedback with our teacher. A lot of teacher student relationships can be distorted, by giving the teacher the responsibility for the hopeful outcome of the student, versus the student. A good teacher is irreplaceable and vital in growth, as is equal respect, a willingness to listen and try (on both sides), while not giving the keys over to the passenger (teacher), as you are the driver (student). A teacher is a great co-pilot, they’re ensuring that you’re awake, keeping an eye on the map, showing you routes, plotting out good rest stops, places to fill up, potential dangers, as well as opportunities for a worthwhile journey.
IF the want of validation from peers and teachers were removed, perhaps competition is too. Not in the healthy sense of competition, but the prideful sense of wanting to be the best in the class or office to impress others with what I can do/have. Perhaps, it would become less about “I,” and more about contributing to all of “us.”
“Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man… It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition is gone, pride is gone.” – C.S. Lewis from “Mere Christianity”
Competing is a pointless endless pursuit, all of us are working, learning, and growing differently.
Wanting encouragement, constructive criticism, inspiration, etc., is not the same as seeking validation.
Validation comes from God and what He says about you.
“So God created human beings in His own image. In the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.” – Genesis 1:27
“In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” – Matthew 5:16
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. – Galatians 1:10
“Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.” – 2 Timothy 2:15
“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.” – Psalm 139:13
“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.” – Jeremiah 1:5
‘”For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”‘ – Jeremiah 29:11