I’ve spent a large portion of my life seeking approval. Whether it was seeking the approval of peers, colleagues, family, teachers or acquaintances. It used to consume me. Some days, it still consumes me.
I was never a kid with a lot of friends. I was picked on. I didn’t feel accepted. I didn’t have a lot of confidence in myself. I spent time seeking approval of my parents. I knew they loved me, but sometimes I didn’t feel good enough. I felt like I had to have good grades for their approval, especially since my sister seemed to get much better grades.
Throughout college while I was really sick, I continued to see approval and acceptance. I never did anything that really put me in harm’s way, but I wasn’t always true to myself. I did things while seeking approval of people I thought were my friend.
I left college with one person I’d consider a lifelong friend and a lot of memories that I’d throw into the acquaintance category. It used to really bother me, and sometimes it still does, that I never felt like I got the college experience I wanted. I finished in three years because I was so miserable. I hated it. I felt isolated because no one understood what I was going through and why I was always so sick.
I spent some time after college still seeking approval of various people. Because of the way Sully and I met, I never felt like I had to hide anything from him or had any reason to. By the time we met in person, he already knew a lot about me. I knew a lot about him. I felt vulnerable, but I also liked that all the cards were laid out on the table.
Sully is honestly one of the few people whose approval or acceptance I’ve never felt I had seek. Around the time of our wedding, I went to counseling to work out some issues I’d been having. I also had a sweet friend who helped me work through some of my feelings and issues. None of it was related to my relationship with Sully, and I was and still am sure he’s the person I’m meant to spend the rest of my life with.
It was around that time I finally stopped seeking approval as much. I’d always shown this “I don’t care what people think” attitude because it was easier for me than dealing with how rejected and lonely I felt. I think I really benefited from talking to someone about the way I was feeling, and for once, I felt it was “ok” to be feeling this way.
I still want to fit in. I want to have friends. I don’t want to be disliked by people. But, I also figured out that in order for me to be happy, I had to accept how I was feeling and go about my life in a way that made me happy.
I’m a realist. I don’t necessarily have the most positive things to say all the time, but I share how I feel. I’m not so afraid of people not approving of me that I pretend everything is fine. I finally reached a point very recently where I have really stopped caring if people approve of my life choices, my decisions, my actions or my opinions. Sure, it’s always a little bit in the back of my mind, but it doesn’t consume me like it used to.
Life is hard. I think people sometimes forget that. They forget that everyone is fighting their own battle, whether it’s apparent or not. There are things that have been said to me and done to me that I will never forget. I may forgive that person, but I remember. And, after one too many wrongs, I stop allowing those people time or space in my life. Eventually I am done.
I’m not really sure exactly where I’m going with this without “airing dirty laundry” on the internet, but basically I’ve finally given myself permission to be done after one too many wrongs. The quote at the beginning of this is something I have to remind myself of often, and really it should be a framed print in our house to remind me daily. I gave myself permission to admit I was unhappy in my career field, take a leap of faith and find something that fulfilled me, so I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to get to this point in my personal life. Rather than continue to put myself in situations where I’m made unhappy or allow myself to be treated poorly, I’ve decided to be done.