(Estelle - No Exit)
A girl is put into a room with two other people. She has never met them before and she will never again see anyone else other than these two. Yet, she needs something from them. She needs approval. She needs validation. She needs to be told she is beautiful, valuable, and desired, but based solely on the superficial – her looks. These strangers must serve as her mirrors. She invites them to be her worshippers and her judge, her esteem and her torment. She thinks if she is valuable from the outside it will overcome any imperfections and insecurities on the inside. Eventually, the girl is able to obtain all of this from one of the two people, but not from the other – not from the one she desires. The approval received is from the one whose opinion she does not value. It is not enough. She wants to be accepted by the one that she deems as worthy to approve her, and will not relent until she has it.
Sound familiar? Remind you a bit of high school? We all do this in some way or another, and not just as adolescents. We like to think we’ve grown and matured past that point, and yet in so many ways we still ask others for validation, in ways both conscious and unconscious. Surely, we reason, if we put our best selves out there by buying the right things, getting the perfect career, and broadcasting pictures, details, and actions that make us look meaningful, we will be just that.
What happens when we supposedly receive validation from this? As long as this approval comes from the right people, not those deemed by us as social outcasts or misfits, we feel good about ourselves. But it doesn't last. It is never enough. It wanes. Then like a drug, we have to keep coming back for more. Our identity becomes wrapped up in the opinions of others who are looking to you to sanction them in the same way.
So, the questions I hope this story provokes are: what do we use as mirrors in our own lives? What do we use to determine our worth? Why do we constantly seek to be commended by others? Why is it that we must keep going back for more? Why is it never enough? And finally, where is the place we can find true validation and who is the one in which we can find our true identity?
I have an answer for the last question, yet I still find myself caught up in the cycle at times. My hope is that this story will cause these questions to arise and then we can help each other shift our way of thinking so that we accept each other and ourselves for the way we were fearfully and wonderfully made.