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8 Comments 18 May 2010

I worked at Starbucks a few years ago while my husband was in graduate school.  We couldn’t be without health insurance and so I became a

Debra Winger & John Travolta in Urban Cowboy

barista.  I loved the people that I worked with, but the job was no walk in the park.  At the end of my shift I had to count my money by entering my employee number and the little phrase “waiting for validation” would pop up on the screen.

I will never forget the very first time I closed my till in the back room of Starbucks.  That little phrase made me think and kept me thinking.  It struck me how deeply I longed for validation and had longed for it my entire life.  I think we as women are all looking for validation.  My life is full of stories of looking and not finding that validation simply because I was looking for it in the wrong spot.

I saw Urban Cowboy with John Travolta when I was probably in the eighth or ninth grade.  When I watch it now I am surprised that my mother let me see it.  She was fairly strict and it was pretty edgy for a good Baptist girl.  But I think my search for validation could easily have had the background music of the movie’s theme song, “Looking for love in all the wrong places.”

There is a deep need in each of us to be loved, to be validated and even as a young girl I thought that would be found in a boy.  I remember walking down the eighth grade hall and having Keith W. tell me that my hair was just TOO BIG for my body.  Lesson 1: boys do not appreciate skinny girls with body waves from Fantastic Sam’s.  Lesson 2: I was not going to be validated, truly validated…ever-by a boy!

I soon found that looking for validation from a boy gave me a mound of heartache and swollen eyes.  This was all dramatic back in middle and high school, but as I find myself in my forties, it really isn’t much different.  I am surrounded by friends whose marriages have ended after decades.  Marriages that they expected to last a lifetime.  Their heartaches are earth shattering and extend to their children as well.  This need to be validated is still here, still driving decisions and leaving my friends “waiting for validation.”

I think we were actually made with that need and honestly I think it is only satisfied by our coming to a place where we can know we are validated by something bigger than ourselves.  But this then begs the question – who made us?  Yes, I do believe that we were made by a Creator, each one of us perfectly crafted and given beautiful gifts to contribute to all of humanity.  I believe that is the foundation of validation.

I think when we come to believe that we are loved perfectly by something bigger than ourselves, bigger than another human being, bigger than our children, bigger than our jobs…that we are indeed validated by the one who made us, then we come to a fulness that allows us to live freely and fully.

My faith hasn’t solved all of my validation issues, I still struggle, but I do believe it has allowed me to stop “waiting for validation” from every other source on the planet.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this.  Do you think women are always “waiting for validation?”

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8 Comments so far

  1. In a word, yes. How many times do we ask our husbands “Do I look …” Ten dollars every woman reading this can fill in the blank. I never believed life changed much as you aged-I mean,except for the support hose and my pink hoveraround. Was I in for a surprise!
    Hard to be specific, but women have to find “something” to focus on- I mean learn something new- spanish, or html… or like myself- build a website from scratch-
    As you achieve success in your learning process, validation of a concrete sort happens- the kind that stays.

  2. April says:

    This has been a lifelong struggle for me as well. I agree with you that my source of validation has to come from something bigger, outside of myself and my circumstances. I constantly wrestle in my faith to believe this. In this season of life I find myself looking to every parenting book for validation that what I am doing with my little one is “right.” I’m ready to throw these books out the window or burn them!

  3. kate says:

    i’ve been thinking alot about validation since i’ve read this… it can be such a prison to need that from everyone around me… ONE DAY i will be totally free!!!

  4. angie says:

    yep. lifelong. and then i married a man that i thought totally “got” me. and a few years later i’m (finally) realizing that he is still a man…and cannot ever really ‘get’ me. no matter how kind he may be with my tears/emotions/meltdowns i’m realizing i may never feel completely validated by him…or anyone really…b/c yes, my ultimate validation only comes from one. thanks for that encouragement! it helps me rest, and prayerfully, live freely/fully – even in/with my tears/emotions/meltdowns!

  5. Deus aderit says:

    Are women waiting for validation? Yes, but only if they are weak women and don’t have a sense of who they are as one of God’s beloved creations in this world. Seeking validation from all external sources will never satisfy the inner desire for completion as a person.

    • Jorja says:

      Interesting that you call women who are seeking validation “weak.” I personally have found that owning my “weakness” has made me a much stronger human being, not to mention woman. It has been my experience that ALL women, including those who have very deep faith, struggle with a need for validation. It is ironic, however, that women of faith find it easier to hide their seeking validation as it is often found in their in their spirituality or relationships (i.e.-marriage & mothering) within the religious world; these roles or “validators” are seen as noble. However, they are sources of validation other than God, nonetheless.

  6. Carrie says:

    I think it’s a woman’s desire to “make right” that leaves us feeling the need for external validation. I know I search for physical validation from my husband and mothering validation from my women friends. Since I see God as a collective whole that we can all tap into (and that’s where I my internal me dwells), I know I should look there for validation but it’s so easy to get the perspective skewed. Sigh, bummer, try again.

    • Jorja says:

      carrie, i hear you and i think i understand what you are trying to say. again, it comes down to something larger than ourselves to give us a sense of purpose. i think there is a sense of being whole and connected to this “larger” being that allows us to interact with others and not depend on them. this is very difficult to discuss via comment boards…call me! love you! miss you!

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things to make you wonder~

“I am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along. I am aging and eaten and have done my share of eating too. I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, but instead am wondering awed about on a splintered wreck I've come to care for, whose gnawed trees breathe a delicate air, whose bloodied and scarred creatures are my dearest companions, and whose beauty bats and shines not in its imperfections but overwhelmingly in spite of them...” Annie Dillard

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