In my previous post, I discussed the challenge of making friends when new to a community and how my current social situation reminds me of high school. Well, when I think about if I were in high school, or middle school, in this era of social media I cringe.
It was hard enough hearing about the gatherings my peers had without me—seeing photos of them would most certainly have broken my heart!
Now, at 33 years old, it is still hard to see photos of my peers with whom I am friendly but have not yet developed a more established relationship. When I see pictures of them going out with each other it makes me realize that their world is completely separate from mine, and while we are friendly acquaintances, we are no MORE than that.
On the one hand, I want to hide these photos since they trigger the painful memories of peer rejection that I experienced in high school (although my peers didn’t actively reject me, simply not being invited to their gatherings was rejection enough for me).
On the other hand, seeing these photos is useful because it lays out clearly and transparently these people’s social lives. In high school, I didn’t have the self-esteem or emotional wherewithal to accept that my peers’ lives were separate from mine—I so wanted to be included!
But after more than a decade of therapy and many personal growth workshops, I have gained much self-awareness and have come to acknowledge that my instinct is to look OUTSIDE of myself for validation before seeking it from WITHIN.
That is what led to my melancholy in high school and that is what later drove me to date guys who didn’t respect me. I wanted to be the kind of person “they” would approve of. I wanted to be accepted.
Now I realize that the type of acceptance that is most crucial is SELF-ACCEPTANCE.