Saying Goodbye to Validation Through Facebook
I have a confession, one I haven’t made to anyone save my mom and sister.
On February 14, 2000, I was in high school. In English class, I was called to go to the office over the PA. In the office, I received a bouquet of flowers and 16 balloons and 3 cards from a “secret admirer.”
When I returned to class with my cards and balloons and flowers, I felt special. And when asked in class by my peers about who my admirer could be, I repeated over and over again in a surprised tone, “I have no idea!”
The truth: I did have an idea. The sender of the cards, the colorful “I Love You!” balloons, and flowers was none other than my mom.
I know. It was pathetic. I was pathetic. But I was desperate then. I was desperate to get something on Valentine’s Day. I was desperate then, as in many other times of my life, to show that others liked me, that I was popular, desired.
The truth: I wasn’t popular in high school. I was a loner.
At 17, I listened to easy listening music on 97.1 and Oldies but Goodies on 100.3. I wore turtlenecks and penny loafers and regular fit jeans from Talbots. Talbots! I didn’t have a boyfriend or want a boyfriend. I focused on grades and on all the other things that most of the cool kids didn’t have time to focus on (or so it seemed) because that’s what came easiest for me. That's what the real me cared about.
I make this now confession for three reasons.
Reason #1) I’m no longer in high school.
Reason #2) No one from my high school reads my blog (or, at least not to my knowledge... If someone is reading my blog who knew me from high school, MAKE YOUR PRESENCE KNOWN! (said in the voice of James Earl Jones) Just kidding (on the all caps part).
Reason #3) That girl who wanted others to like her stayed within me through the years.
And it's reason number three that I write this post. You see, that girl who needed others' approval to be okay with herself? Yeah. She joined me online in 2004 (that's when I joined Facebook). She’s the one, not me, who was once Facebook “friends” with hundreds of people, people that she liked, people that she met one time and wanted to stalk, people that she "knew" but didn't like but wanted to stalk, and some people that were just "there."
She’s the one, not me, who felt she could rest assured with the thought that her hundreds of virtual friends could keep her warm at night, like an old tattered quilt, on wintery evenings. And, she followed me into blogging.
It was her, not me, who jumped in on the Follow me/Follow you bandwagon back in the early days of her blogging in an effort to gain more followers. It was her, not me, who once felt compelled to post everyday though her real life demanded that she not. She’s the one who checked her stats daily and cried when she lost her first blog followers. She’s the one who commented on 100+ blogs every.single.day and cried when only two people commented on hers.
She was there with me in the beginning, but in 2011, she died. And with her death, I found... me. I found the "me" who no longer needs to feel validated by hundreds of others to be okay with the one me.
With her death, I found the "me" who enjoys, most, making genuine connections with real people I like online and being real online. I found the "me" and began writing, fearlessly. I found the "me" who doesn’t need to check her stats to feel okay or warm at night.
I found the "me" who loves me enough to know that I am enough.
I found the "me" and unfriended and unfollowed some Twitter and Facebook "friends" that I was using for numbers and began focusing on the people and relationships that matter most to me.
I've learned many lessons from blogging in the past (almost) two years. Perhaps the one lesson that stands out, and that I'd like to pass on to anyone (blogger or otherwise) who is like the old me, is that you are enough. Believe this and, if you are a blogger/writer, write and connect from that place. Live from that place.
In blogging and in real life, know that not everyone will like you or the things that you produce (whether it be a novel or a piece of art or a dissertation or a blog post). But some people will. You will. And that's really all that matter.
Jessica Hinton is a wife, mom, and freelance writer living in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. She writes as honestly as possible about parenting and motherhood at her blog, Mommyhood NEXT RIGHT.
Photo Credit: I Love You Flowers via Shutterstock.