Okay in typical me fashion I’ve neglected the blog and this time I’ve left all six of my readers hanging - I’m only half-way through the 12 Steps For Getting Over a Validation Addiction.
Now, instead of moving forward with the rest of the list, I must first do a couple stand-alone posts to show why someone like me can’t just get over this Validation Addiction overnight. Yeah, yeah. I’m really just creating false suspense, much in the way network TV drags out major story developments with boring filler episodes. However, I argue bad habits are like Roman cockroaches, and they can’t be killed in a day or a single blog-post split into two and spread out over four months.
So time for a Case Study in Validation Addiction: How one
neutral comment vicious insult can rain on your
So let’s set the scene. It’s Pride 2013. A weekend of slutty, shirtless free-for-alls, where douchebaggery is at its most fervent. Plastic gays have spent the better part of the year pumping iron and indulging their eating disorders to ensure they’d fetch top prize in the meat markets that ensue.
Normally a mild-mannered slightly above-average former fatty would dread these affairs and the toll they can take on your ego and self-esteem. But I'm transformed and making up for lost time.
And I was coming off a week of both insane creative and physical validation. My documentary adventures a resounding success and in the can. Plus I’d had the chance to train and diet like crazy to ensure I look the part. Heck, the night before, I even took in so many rape-stares during the army-themed Boot Camp, my Validation meter was full to the brim.
Of course later that afternoon it was time for Aqua, the sole event set in broad daylight when the unforgiving noonday sun reveals every unsightly flaw, every missed patch of manscaping. Any expectations for validation are dangerous at best. But my Validation Meter was full, so why should I feel the need to posture or peacock?
|Aqua: A dangerous place for a Validation Addict|
Alas, by the time I arrived, I was dwarfed by prettier Gods amongst men with broader shoulders, more chiseled pecs and rows upon rows of abs. Wherever I turned, there were guys hotter than me.
Okay I just had to regroup. I could find the most flattering light to stand in, next to someone fatter than me, so I'd be hot by contrast. Hold it out until the Magic Hour of sundown when vodka-diet-redbull-goggles had kicked in. But it was a lost cause. It didn’t matter how much fake confidence I tried to muster, I got about as much attention as the ladies washroom.
Until finally I ran into a friend I hadn’t seen all party with a dude, a Random Asian Stranger I didn’t recognize. Finally, I knew this was my opportunity. I’d be introduced to Random Asian Stranger and he’d stroke my ego with a compliment. Sure enough, Random Asian Stranger pulled me in to whisper something flattering into my ear.
“Has anyone ever told you look like…” he started but trailed off, drowned out by the circuit beats.
No big deal. It must’ve been Guy Pierce. Or Ethan Hawke. I've gotten those before. Either way it didn’t matter, I should’ve just heard “a celebrity that’s hot” cause that was the obvious punchline. But no. I was insecure and needed my validation loud and clear.
|Celebrity Recognition as Flattering Compliment|
“Sorry I didn’t hear you, what did you say?” I forced him to lean in and say it again.
This time he raised his voice. “Has anyone ever told you… you look like Mitch from Modern Family.”
I really felt like a stake was stabbed through my heart. No, I wasn’t just compared to a ginger – an association I've used a decade's worth of tanning beds and bottle-blonding to avoid (no thanks to South Park) -- but this ginger.
|Celebrity Recognition as Insult.|
I was speechless with no sassy comeback prepared. Not that it mattered, he was long gong, parading off to destroy another poor, vain douchbag’s self-esteem.
First of all the comparison was ridiculous, right?? I mean, Mitch from Modern Family?! A scrawny, red-headed chubby-chaser?! Okay yes, I've got a little ginger in me, and under scorching sunlight my hair can take a slightly reddish hue. So if you must compare me to a famous redhead, how about Trainer Bob from the Biggest Loser?
I didn’t even know this Mean Girl hater-bitch, let a lone understand his motivation to cut me down. Maybe I rejected him somewhere in the digital realm. Maybe he was on one of the losing teams we absolutely destroyed in Gay Dodgeball. Or maybe, just maybe, this guy didn’t actually mean it as an insult. Maybe this guy really likes gingers, somehow seeing my ginger resemblance as a positive thing. No. Not a chance.
Anyway, we’re losing the point. Which isn’t that some stranger had the gall to compare me to a ginger.
No, it’s why I allowed the opinion of a stranger get under my skin.
I found my friends and told them I had to leave the party at 6pm so I could prepare for the next day’s documentary shoot at the Parade. Which of course was total bollux, because I was already prepared for the filming, but the excuse probably sounded better than "some random guy unintentionally struck a nerve with an impossibly low blow, so I'm gonna stay in to nurse my wounds". Thus I stayed in on a Saturday night slaying fungus-infected pseudo-zombies with my
real virtual friends Ellie and Joel. And they never had the audacity to compare me to Mitch from Modern Family.
So why is it that I can survive a network screening where my blood ends up on the floor, when my creative reason for being is questioned, and somehow not take it personally, but then one harmless remark can leave me crippled?
Well it's because I can still be a vain, self-doubting guy who cares way too much about what others think of me. I can also have warped delusions of how others perceive me. Not that one shouldn't care what certain others think - lest we swing to the arrogant end of the confidence spectrum - but one should probably raise the bar above the random drones they meet at shirtless dancing parties.
The good news is I did survive the character assassination attempt. I somehow sucked it up and reported to work the next day. I even took Random Asian Stranger off my Kill-Bill black list for Planned Vengenace once I’m rich and famous. How's that for progress?
Which all means to say, that I must be one step closer to curing my need to be continually validated by others, right??
And Gingers, do have souls, for the record.