to all my fellow worriers, approval seekers, and crowd pleasers:
i know growing up in a pressure-filled society is hard. i’ve done it for 17 years and i’m nowhere near done being engulfed in society’s WAY too blunt opinions and pressure on how i should live. i spent my middle school years and most of high school, caring excessively too much about what people thought of me. from the clothes i wore, the color of my hair, to the way i walked down the hallway, i needed everyone to approve of how i was carrying myself and accept how i chose to portray every detail of my life. i watched my mom’s heart break over and over when i would come home with yet another story of how someone made fun of the way my foot hit the ground or how i braided my hair that day. i felt as if i was a target for criticism, as i’m sure many of you do as well.
it’s time for a little backstory. this may seem pointless to the message of this post, but i promise it ties in. stick with me. i was born with a cyst on the left ventricle of my brain. when i was 18 months old and still not walking, my doctor and parents started getting concerned. they went through many possible diagnoses, cerebral palsy being what they were almost certain i had. they then discovered the cyst. with the help of many amazing doctors and outstanding technology, it was said that the cyst was causing the right side of my body to not function as normal. as i grew up, my doctor started to realize my right foot/leg was what was being hit with the pressure of the cyst the most. i walked with a major limp, my foot turned in to an (almost) 180-degree angle when i walked, and it would drag with every step. you can only IMAGINE what kind of attention this drew from children and adults alike. after multiple surgeries and many years, my foot and walk is (somewhat) normal.
with that being said, my foot was obviously the root of my problems. not only did that alter how i thought about myself, it caused anxiety and made me come up with ways to compensate for my “disability” by wanting the newest and nicest things. i thought that maybe people would accept me a little bit more. one year, i gave my grandma a list of items i wanted for christmas that equaled well over $1,000. all of the items were brand name clothing that people wore who (most of the time) didn’t even want to be my friend. i thought that a new patagonia vest and a pair of hunter boots would make them forget about my external flaws. this is how far i was into feeling that other people’s approval was what made me who i was.
you’ll be surprised to know that when i stopped seeking people’s approval and wanting their opinions, is the point when my life did an absolute 360. there are instances when wanting someone to be proud of you or commend you is healthy. for example, when you got through a rush at work by yourself or wanting your parents to congratulate you on your report card, but doing the upmost extremes to get a few people to call you “cool” is only going to take you that much farther away from the self-love you deserve. learn from me. don’t sit at your desk at school and look around the room and wonder why you can’t have what lauren does, why you can’t look like katie, or what you could do to make that group of girls like you. learn to stop chasing approval. learn to stop living for other people and live for yourself. not everyone sticks around, but one thing that you’ll always have is you. learn to love you, learn to embrace you in every season of life.
i know the pressure is heavy, trust me. don’t go sweating the small stuff, because in all honesty, these people you’re trying to impress now, will be at a totally different point in life than you in five years. love yourself for yourself! i promise it’s so much more worth it in the end.