“We need others. We need others to love and we need to be loved by them. There is no doubt that without it, we too, like the infant left alone, would cease to grow, cease to develop, choose madness and even death.” -Leo Buscaglia
In many of the circles I float between, it is cool to be seen as aloof and uncaring of other people’s opinions. It comes from this “I do what I want,” “haters gonna hate” mentality that is currently popular. I can certainly get behind the notion that we will be criticized no matter what we do, so we might as well do what we please but criticism is only one side of the equation.
I recently put myself out there on social media and shared my struggle with finding a job. This is very much out of character for me since I like to give off a got-my-shit-together vibe, but the truth is much more messy. Of course, because I am friends with some wonderful people, the responses rolled in: “you are over-the-top AMAZING,” “Everything will be ok,” “…remember you rock,” “Oh I’ve been where you are.” etc. And I realized that was all I needed, some validation from people I care about.
So why is it so easy to say “I don’t care what you have to say” to those who bring us down, but so hard to say, “I value your opinion” to those who want to lift us up? Why is it not okay to say, “please, just tell me I’m doing alright”? Sure, it makes you vulnerable to someone who may say, “No, you should live this way” but often I find people will surprise you in the best possible way.
As an artist, I’m constantly forced to put myself out there in the form of a painting and I wait. If a piece isn’t well received it’s difficult but I can always remind myself that while they may not get it now, maybe they will someday and continue onward. To make art, you must balance between feeding off of validation and not letting it control you. This doesn’t mean that validation is a bad thing just that it isn’t everything. And while it may seem that the world is full of haters, there are many people who will reach out a hand of support if you are brave enough to take it.