“I do not care what others think about me”!

Well, I used to hold this to be true until I started a new job and was faced with the need to be validated. I wanted my work to be seen, so eventhough it was not in the form of likes on social media, I still found myself trapped in the seeking for validation cycle.

I guess we all do, one way or another; we can see this through our extensive morning routines to get our skin perfect or when we stare at our closet, bugged by not knowing what to wear, or even following the rules only when someone else is watching. We humans do not want to be seen as going against the grain, because we seek to be included in the “pack”.

Luckily, we are not fully to blame for this, the harsh reality is that not only our upbringing, but our biology as well, is structured in this way. 

I have observed 2 things that have led to mine and some colleagues need for affirmation

In our early lives, one or both of our parents or major mentors instilled the need of affirmation in us, this is usually in the form of receiving very little affirmation in our childhood or too much even when undeserved.

We learn how the world works from people close to us, and whatever coping mechanisms or habits they have, we pick up and keep with us throughout our lives if we do not actively recognise and work on them.

It’s in our DNA. A well known philosopher once said

“Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual”.

And there we have it folks… we are not really in charge of ourselves in the way we believe so. Being social creatures means we inherently want to behave how society does because it makes us feel good.

The more we seek validation and are praised, the more we are trained to behave in a way that brings out positive responses from others.

The more we behave as society deems right, the more we will receive approval and praise from others this leads us to act in ways that elicit good responses from others.

If you haven’t guessed yet, the philospher I had mentioned above is Aristotle. He doesn’t hold true that we have to always follow our base desires of acceptance he also mentions how 

“The high-minded man must care more for the truth than for what people think.”

― Aristotle


“I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies, for the hardest victory is over self.”

― Aristotle

And although the want to be validated is natural, excessive desire to want it all the time is not and social media has feed off of this. 

I am here to tell you maybe cutting down your social media usage might cure your need for constant validation. Hundreds of individuals in our social media circles ave not spoken to us in years or are complete strangers who are part of our online community. They will not be there to share our hard times and are probably envious about our good times yet we still crave their praise and attention. 

This keeps us dependent on external validation that is not from those who understand you, digitizing our base desires can lead to addiction, this has been seen with porn, gaming, streaming and the list goes on.

I have definitely not perfected curbing these desires but I am now more aware of them which I guess is a start.

Written by Tshimangadzo Nemurangoni