I’m repeatedly acknowledging the importance of being unique, being you, and not rendering ourselves a slave to outside approval. Why? Because it’s not something we control. Because our own standards should be so high that we already have plenty to worry about.
Still, there’s considerably more to be said about this particular human desire for external validation. Indisputably, this is a timeless and widespread problem. Throughout my youth, similar to others, I wanted to be liked – by my coworkers, my mentors, by the people I’d meet in the street – but I also attempted to grasp why I craved everyone’s approval. I wanted to know what was driving my desire so I could eliminate its power.
Why was I pursuing praise from people who kick themselves every fifteen minutes, who know everything but do nothing, from people who despise themselves?
Being liked seems important… For some, it can appear like the most significant thing in the world. Until we start to consider the people we happen to be so desperate to impress. Until we think about the ridiculous quirks they are impressed by, and the remarkable purity they don’t “get.” Until we realize that they don’t even respect themselves – then all of a sudden being liked feels almost… juvenile.
To be clear, the point of freeing yourself from this external burden isn’t to make it easier for you to be a selfish jerk. On the contrary, it’s to free you up to do the right things for the right reasons. Not to pursue virtue for praise, but for its own sake with no regard for whether we take heat for it later. Many great decisions are not popular, many brilliant innovations (and creative people) are poorly understood. Should they change for the sake of people who kick themselves? Or don’t understand themselves?
No. And neither should you. Do right – do your best – because it’s who you are. The rest doesn’t matter.
Attain vitality in your own presence, and discover independence by being unique.
By Brian Nadon