If there's one habit that I would like to kick, it's caring what other people think about me. I care about what they think about my clothes, my opinions, my likes, my dislikes, my successes, my failures, all of those. And as much as I try, I don't know how to stop caring about what everyone thinks about me, whether or not they like me. 

But a few days ago, I got to thinking, why am I so obsessed with what everyone thinks? And I began thinking about how I'm always so unsure of myself. I'm unsure about my opinions about things because I'm not sure if that's a "cool" opinion. I'm unsure about the way that I should act because I'm not sure whether or not people will accept me. I'm unsure in my choices because I'm afraid that people will look down upon them. But why? 

Why am I constantly seeking validation from others? Why can't I just make my own choices and decisions and not even bat an eye about what others might think about them?

The thing is, I like to be liked. We're social people, even the most anti-social of us, humans are naturally social. 

It's in our nature to take comfort in a community. It gives us a sense of connection. It's nice to be liked, it makes you feel loved and appreciated. But there comes a point when liking to be liked comes to a new level, begins to eat away at our lives. Whether it means trying to change who you are in order to fit in with the popular crowd or trying to create this fake life in order to get more Instagram likes, wanting to feel liked can sometimes take control of our lives. 

I am 100% guilty of this. Sometimes my personality varies a little bit when I spend time with certain people and I know that it's because I'm trying to be liked. I care about their opinion. I feel uncomfortable with people looking through the kind of music that I listen to, because let's be real, there are some music snobs out there that will seriously judge what you listen to. If I listen to music that's too unknown, it's weird. If I listen to music that's too popular, I'm mainstream, basic. There's no winning, even with something as simple as music choice. 

So why do I care so much?

Validation from others feels like a reward. It's like knowing that you're doing something right. 

As much as we crave being able to stand out, being unique and different, there's still a part of us that craves normalcy. It's not fun when you don't fit in. It's not fun when everyone around you believes something else, it makes you feel like you're a minority, a social pariah. Being different can sometimes be lonely. 

When I was in middle school, I was in a school full of people that I couldn't relate to. I was nerdier, quieter, and frankly, just not into the same things as everyone else. And yeah, people would say that it's good that I'm different, I stand out from the norm. But in that moment, I didn't want to stand out. I didn't like that I couldn't relate to others. I didn't like that I didn't have a lot of friends. Being different from everyone else made me feel lonely. It made me feel like alienated, like all of my opinions, feelings, and ideas, didn't matter as much. 

Fitting in is a safe place. And when I was liked, it made me feel like I wasn't lonely anymore. When someone said that they liked the same thing as me, it made me feel like my opinion was valid, like it was okay to have that opinion. Validation makes you feel like you're fitting in, because other people share your thoughts.

"If you set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise anything at any time and you would achieve nothing."
- Margaret Thatcher

When you're validated, it feels like a reward, like your feelings are correct because others agree. It makes you feel like you're more normal and I think that we unconsciously enjoy that sometimes. There's just something about the science in our brains or the fact that we're social creatures that just makes us want to fit in. We live in a world where we constantly say that it's great to be different, but sometimes being different means being lonely, with no one to share your ideas with. And it's not fun to be lonely. 

I think that to a certain extent, it's okay to want to be validated. There's just some kind of happiness that naturally goes through when you're surrounded by people who have similar thoughts, views, ideas, beliefs. It's good to be liked, it makes you feel appreciated. But there comes a point where liking to be liked, seeking validation, goes too far. You shouldn't let the craving of validation from others dictate your life or change who you are. It's a slippery slope. The thing is that sometimes, unconsciously, we change a little bit in order to be liked by others. Maybe you'll act a little bit different than normal. Maybe you'll get the newest iPhone because everyone else has one. But if you're getting to the point in which you're actively changing against your personal views in order to be liked, something needs to be done. 

In a world where 99% of people like us, we still constantly stress about that 1%. 

Why don't they like us? What are we doing wrong? How can we get that validation from them? And I just think that it's a waste of time and energy. If you spend all of your time wondering why people don't like you, you're just wasting all of the time that you have to do something meaningful with your life. It's exhausting, really. There's just something so liberating about not caring about what other people think about you. It eliminates all of the unnecessary and excess stress. I just have so much stress in my life already. Why would I add more on my stressing about the people that don't like me? No one is winning, but by stressing about it, you're losing the most. 

The worst thing is if you change in order to be liked. Why are you morphing into something, someone that you're not? Why are we so obsessed with trying to be someone else, this ideal person? Because the thing is that no matter who you are, there will always be someone out there that doesn't like you. 

Even the greatest people, the most influential and the most caring people, still have people that don't like them. Whether it's Beyonce, the President of the United States, Mother Teresa, Angelina Jolie, there will be someone out there in the world that does not like them. And what if they stopped to think about all the people that didn't like them instead of doing what they did? What if Martin Luther King Jr. began to think about all the people that were against his views instead of fighting for his own? Isn't that just silly? You should not let your need to be liked hold you back. Changing will do nothing to make you feel more liked, it will only make you like yourself less. 

Why does it matter if all the people in the world like you if you hate yourself?

Whether it comes from choices in clothing or the number of likes on an Instagram account, I'm constantly seeking validation. And I don't want that anymore. When you think about the principle, it's just such a pointless thing to do, seeking for validation. Why are you seeking for validation when yours in the only one that matters? 

No matter how many people like you in the world, there will always be at least one person that doesn't. And sometimes, you just can't change that. And if you try to change, then you're just letting that person win. You're losing your sense of self, compromising your own identity in order to please someone else. And that's so incredibly wrong. Yes, it's nice to be liked, but is it really worth losing yourself over?

"It's not your job to like me - it's mine." 
- Byron Katie

Your feelings and opinions are valid. Maybe to someone else, they don't share those. And that's perfectly okay. Not getting validation from others doesn't mean that they're not real and 100% acceptable. Wouldn't it just be plain if everyone in the world had the same opinions, same likes, same dislikes, and all that other stuff? 

Although we strive for normalcy, validation is not necessary in order to be happy. Yes, some extent of validation is healthy, but you should avoid going out of your way in order to get validation, especially from peers. It's nice to be liked, but you have to remember that if someone doesn't like you, it's not the end of the world. Life will go on.

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