~Taking criticism is hard~
~Taking affirmation is complicated~
“The more affirmation you need from others, the weaker you become,” Blake once told me. He always spoke about strength and weakness as if we lived in Game of Thrones (but we both obsessed over GOT so in our minds we kinda were). “The person who doesn’t need any affirmation is free. And watch people,” he looked me in the eyes, “People always follow the person who doesn’t need any affirmation.” I decided that very day to need less affirmation, suddenly feeling cheated by all the chasing and pleading I’d passively done throughout my life, begging for the affirmation of those whom I didn’t even like, admire and who did so little for me. Soon after I read the Lisbeth Salandler series about a girl who lacks the imagination to even conceive the notion of a healthy affirmation from another life form. And a couple heart breaks later, she became my role model. Along with this quote which sealed the deal:
And I think, at one point, I made it. Compliments meant less to me than criticism. Admiration and validation became coupled with control and manipulation. All those who sought to validate me wanted to conquer me (again with the Game of Thrones delusions, gawd). All those who liked me presupposed that I even needed to be liked. All those who affirmed me assumed I needed their affirmation, a mistake even worse than not giving it to me in the first place.
And paradoxically, the harder I tried to not need any affirmation, the more it actually bothered me, both positive and negative alike. Things had flipped, like ‘he who goes against the fashion of the day is to itself a slave’. Eventually being a human ghost-goddess and ice-queen hybrid (but only to myself and in my own mind) became the only suitable role for me to play.
The truth is EVERYONE needs someone to affirm them. And both sides are scary. Needing too many affirmations means you morph into a people pleaser, at which point you should become the next Taylor Swift or run for Presidency. Needing too little means you end up alone, at which point you should become the next Smaug or Sherlock Homes, brushing up on your fire-breathing and deduction. But I don’t think its the number of people you have in your life to affirm you, but the quality of those that do.
Quality over quantity (unless you’re a politician, then definitely quantity over quality).
And I can say that over these past few months, I’ve had a shift in consciousness about this. The residual Lisbeth Salander in me still dismisses all the affirmations of people who in no way inspire me, who annoy me, who think they know everything, or who drink half decaf and half regular coffee in the same cup and refuse to have their coffee any other way. Or those who misuse double negatives without blinking. But there’s a part of me now that’s okay with being affirmed and validated by those who try to see the best in others. Like I don’t melt into a green puddle on the floor anymore. I just breathe in, breathe out and say, “Thank you.”