the need for affirmation

I’ve been in a state of deep reflection the past few hours, and in terms of my long-term mental health, I can’t figure out if these trances are good for me or jarring. Today’s realization was that a lot of my issues stem from the fact that I am so preoccupied with what other people must think of me. When doing anything, I can only see myself through the eyes of others, but not even one specific person, more so, a hypothetical third-party. “Would this person compliment my outfit?” I ask when getting ready in the mornings or “What would this person say if they saw me right now?” when sleeping in late or wearing pajamas to the grocery store. Although, I’m sure there is a technical term for this let’s call it looking at one’s self through “black (oversized Celine) colored glasses.”

 The black colored glasses are at their darkest tint when I am doing things society has deemed “unacceptable”. I don’t typically feel guilty about my actions, as they are decisions I (a whole ass adult) stand behind. But often, I wonder what is being said about me in a snooty holier-than-thou group chat. I feel small when looking at myself through the eyes of others, and wonder if people respect me less because I don’t adhere to the same value code as them.  

Other times, it’s quite the opposite and I try and see myself through the eyes of someone who is in love with me. Some days the role is played by someone I am infatuated with, but a lot of the time it is a hypothetical life-partner who doesn’t yet exist. Would he look over at me as I am reading in comfortable silence questioning how the hell he got so lucky? I wonder if he would find my quirks to be endearing rather than something to run away from.

It is interesting, however, how I don’t actually care what people say about me, in the sense that, I have very thick skin. But this notion that I have no real idea as to who I am in the minds of others freaks me out. I always contemplate what my friends would write in their long Facebook memorial post if I were to pass away tomorrow. Would they have described me as a good person? Did I leave any impact on their life, well-being, or personhood? Was it a positive one or are they happier now that I am gone? I value my relationships with others more than the average person, but that is because they’re the only thing I’m proud of. That I have collected (and maintained) such a wonderful group of people.  And if I didn’t positively affect those in my immediate circle what was the purpose of my life really? So far, I’ve been too self-centered and “woe is me” to have made any real mark on humanity. I never found a cause I care deeply enough about to invest time into, nor have I pushed the societal needle forward in any manner.

Maybe my inner turmoil could all be resolved if the people I loved were more expressive with their feelings. Gratitude seems to be a foreign concept to most people, alongside suppressing compliments or emotions. It appears that I am on a constant chase for words of affirmation — my love language that doesn’t get fed nearly enough. God, I really hate my constant need to be reaffirmed.