Desperate for Approval

Going on social network, stalking others life, and uploading updates are becoming daily norms these days. Not to mention even parents are starting social media accounts for newborns just to prep them for this new world. What are we trying to achieve out of exposing ourselves?

My life is better than yours. 

Whatever the reason maybe, the above is an unmentioned phrase that sticks right up on each forehead of social media participant. Yes, a cruel, slow, and silent killer. But, I’m not here to dwell into this. 

Growing up in a conventional Chinese family since the 80s, girls or women are generally not encouraged to excel in any professional aspects, apart from professional homemakers. The generation before me, couldn’t be much better. I am the only daughter but not the only child. Getting a fair share for myself is not an easy task living within an extended family. Believe it or not, childhood is the most critical moment of our life. What we observe, hear, comprehend, and feel from our surroundings will eventually shape who we are. 

I am a fighter. 

Back then, I was too young to have a voice. In conservative part of Asia, we learned to give in, accept, or rather follow as much as we can. This is a gesture of respect, even today. I learned from surroundings as I progressed from childhood towards adulthood. From used to be to never accepting anything less. “Why he can and I can’t?” was a constant battle in my mind. It took years of hard work, refurbishing failures, sucking up to humiliation, being thick-skinned to go though countless cycles of proving my credentials, speaking up only to being turned down, and going extra miles to earn the slightest admiration from people I respect.

I believe I am made to make a difference. I’ll prove to those who think I am not. 

To be honest, I am obsessed with victory phrases, be it.. “Well done”, “Great work”, “You should be proud”, “Excellent”, and the list goes on. They keep me motivated. At the same time, they became an addiction burden over time – because I gotta work for it. 

Compliments make us feel good, and they make us keep wanting for more. Criticism or no-compliment makes us feel useless, and so they force us to fix things right depending on how desperate we are for approvals.

I fought for approvals for over a decade just to prove others wrong and that I’m worth it. I love and love how these approvals pushed my boundaries to achieve more, and made me a caliber person today. At the same time, I realised these phrases are merely temporal to get me excited on the surface value. For all the hard work…

“Am I pouring my dedication into something just to earn a line from someone?”

Hold on a second. Whose life is this? Who am I answering to? If I can move the needle with my own effort, it’s for me. Not for others. 

There isn’t much basis on others’ approvals except continuous escalating expectations and pressures at the expense of emotional distress. So, why bother living on others’ expectations?

Whilst I am trying to retract my desperation with this realisation, it is still a struggle for me. Why are we desperate for approval? – Childhood plays a part for definite. Although it can be a career puncher, the downsides are hard to live with. Imagine a life that depends on what others think or say about you? It’s as good as not having own life.

I’ll lay low these days – to prove or not to prove? Approval for indifferent outcome is not necessary. 

Pollen, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

Pollen, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

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