Standards

Crying Out for Acceptance, Approval & Appreciation

In this world, we find ourselves striving for material things, things that can be bought, things that can be studied or achieved. We want the nice house, the pretty clothes, the flash car, the good grades, the top job to fill our bank accounts with money, and the list goes on.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with wanting these things, as most of them are basic needs and wanting our things to be nice or attractive to look at isn’t a crime. However, it becomes a problem when this becomes our main want in life and our desire for these things overtakes our need for happiness, love, inner peace or our own well-being.

We have a tendency to neglect our mental and emotional health, in favour of meeting the standards society has set for us, striving to make the most money we can, or get the best grades we can, or have as many things as we can. I’m guilty of this myself and I’ve been paying the price for it over the years.

I put myself under pressure and unnecessary stress to achieve the best grades possible at GCSE and A-level. I worked myself ragged as I did all I could to get into my dream university. I found myself emotionally drained and mentally tired, giving my all on a university course I hated, in an institution where I never felt comfortable.

Although my grades at GCSE and A-level were good, I got into my dream university and I persevered for two years at that university, it wasn’t worth the emotional and mental turmoil I put myself through. By putting myself on a pedestal and piling on the pressure, I ended up losing myself and a sense of happiness in the process.

My energy dropped, my mood could quickly worsen and I let little things upset me. I found myself easily getting into depressive states, I cried bucket loads of tears and I was self-harming over the years. I was emotionally dying, walking around in a daze and struggling to fall asleep.

Yet through it all, my desire to make others proud wouldn’t allow me to give up. I wanted to make my parents proud, I wanted to make my family proud, I wanted to make my Textiles teacher proud, I wanted to make my tutors proud etc, etc. However, I can’t say that I was making myself proud – all I saw was disappointment after disappointment.

My GCSE grades weren’t good enough for me. I wanted to get all As at A-level, just like my teachers had predicted, not just one A*. I was regressing rather than progressing at university, which depressed me more and more, because I was trying my absolute hardest and spending practically every waking moment on my assignments.

None of this was helping me and my desire to be the best (or perhaps the world’s idea of the best) was covering up the issues within myself. In trying to be the best, I was crying out for acceptance, approval and appreciation.

I wanted my parents to say how proud they were of me and tell me they loved me. I wanted to make something of myself so that people would no longer look down on me or look through me. I wanted to ensure that I wouldn’t be second best anymore.

Looking back on it all, I can see that all I want and all I’ve ever wanted is love, affection, support, care and appreciation from the people around me. I don’t want to feel lonely (despite not being alone) and I don’t want to feel like I’m second best all the time. Yet what I really need is to learn to truly love myself.

Imbalances

When asked to look at the imbalances in my life, it gave me the opportunity to evaluate myself and some of the choices I had made.  At this current time, my life seems very one-sided in some areas and I want to work at changing that.  However, this is easier said than done and it is proving quite difficult.

There is a definite imbalance in the amount of time I spend criticising and commending myself.  It has become second nature for me to put myself down or critique something I have done, whilst giving myself some praise or a pat on the back is usually an afterthought.

I would love to stop being so down on myself, but I set myself very high standards that I want to achieve.  If I do not meet those standards and see that I could have done better, I berate myself for it even though I may have done well.  I think I just need to climb down from the pedestal I’ve put myself on and give more appreciation to my achievements.

Yet my main imbalance seems to be the amount of time I’m spending at home.  In a lot of cases, I prefer to stick with what I’ve become comfortable with, even if it is making me miserable.  While undertaking my gap year and struggling to find a job, I became comfortable staying at home.

I purposefully enrolled on an online writing course so that I could I study at home and when searching for jobs I try to find ways to work from home.  It’s gotten to the point where I only leave the house if I am going to church, seeing friends and family or if it is absolutely necessary.

However, this isn’t really the best thing for me.  Although I feel comfortable and safe in the security of my home, I am someone who enjoys being around people and likes to meet new individuals, which I am not doing much of by being stuck in a house.  Not working or attending an educational institution means that the social part of my life has a big chunk missing.

In a way, I am isolating myself from the world, which could lead to further feelings of loneliness within myself.  I don’t want to feel lonely, isolated or cut off from the world, but I am well aware that this could happen if I am not careful and this imbalance continues.

Working on this imbalance is proving to be incredibly difficult for me, because I seem to be experiencing so many fears and issues that I wasn’t always facing before.

I fear getting out there and applying for jobs, because of the rejection I might face.  I fear going off on my own while with my close circle of friends, because I seem to need them for some sort of support which was not the case before.

I don’t feel fully at ease communicating and socialising with individuals who aren’t in my close circle of friends, as I seem to have lost some sense of myself and I feel unsure about many of the people walking around this world.  I’d prefer to stay cooped up inside, because I hate all of the hurt, bad things and unnecessary evils taking place on this earth.

I’ve realised that I am scared of so much and that there are an abundance of things holding me back, which makes it easier for me to be wrapped up in cotton wool by staying at home.

I’ve created my own little bubble where I can study, spend time with God, spend quality time with my sister, exercise, communicate with friends in cyber space, do the activities I love in my spare time and carry out certain types of work.

However, I need to be brave and strong by getting out there and facing the world head on, like I know I can.  My home does not always feel like my sanctuary and there are times when I need to get away, which makes this all the more important.

It will be difficult, but I need to have more confidence and self-belief to make sure it happens.  And once it does, I’ll be well on my way to getting the balance back in my life.