What We Really Need

There are all kinds of schemes hanging about, promising you that THIS is what will make you happy, THIS will make you successful, THIS will make you skinny, THIS will make you loved. We all know they’re bullshit. But maybe this time, THIS one will work, just for us.

The exception that proves the rule, right?

Because, really, we’re special. Not like all those gullible idiots out there. That’s why it’ll work for us, this time. Soon we will be accomplished, and therefore happy. What we want, what we need, is this new thing we didn’t know about until two minutes ago. But we definitely need it. No doubt.

So we push ourselves through workouts, training schemes, diets, qualifications. We endlessly strive to reach the next level. Level up! Ping! Now, Super Mario, you have everything that you need. Now, you can be happy. Maybe even Luigi, too.

Constantly pursuing a goal, however clear or defined it is, is exhausting. Constantly moving, acting, achieving, don’t stop to breathe. Keep going.
We chase these things not to achieve them. We chase them to talk about them. Or at least, that’s my experience. What we want isn’t to be a better human being; it’s to be recognized as a being at all.

What we really need is very simple. We need the validation of others.

It’s why we blog, Tweet, Facebook. We joke about how things aren’t ‘real’ unless they’re ‘Facebook real,’ but there is a kernel of truth there. What do we use status updates for? If I feel an emotion, and no one else registers it, it has no tangible effect. Scientifically, its impact on the world is imperceptible. And if your emotions aren’t tangible, how do you define your self? Can you exist, divorced of your emotions?

Perhaps tweenagers understand this more than any of us. They put every aspect of their raw angst onto the internet. It must be seen, it must be acknowledged. Hence hideous Myspace pages abound, with endless photos taken in the bathroom mirror. Hey, if no one sees those pictures, how will they know how good you look? In the collective consciousness, you’re still pretty average looking until everyone has seen those hot-damn photos with the contrast waaayy up. Every aspect of their lives in the open, acknowledged, therefore true.

At some point, we realize there are parts of ourselves that we don’t want to be acknowledged. Parts that we don’t like, and wish we could totally erase. Things we’ve done, thought or felt. From the ‘Oh-god-I-can’t-believe-I-did-that-last-night’ variety to the ‘Why-can’t-I-just-be-more-normal­’ variety. We stop exposing our entire selves to the public eye. We’re embarrassed.

In some ways it’s a shame to lose the easy, total abandon of the teenage years. This newfound restraint brings up the doubt: who are we if no one knows our unedited whole?

How do you define yourself? Through your experiences? Or through how you present those experiences to other people?

Probably neither of those. We define ourselves through our relations to other people. We are mother, husband, lover, sister, teacher, friend, son, enemy. Without links to other people, we disintegrate. We need anchors to society. To label someone is not to negate them. Even derogatory labels, whilst unpleasant, acknowledge a place in society, somewhere to belong. An identity.

And identity is relative. Without anyone to relate or react to, there is no identity, only isolation. To ignore a person, to deprive them of the labels of relationships, is what truly negates them. It robs them of their identity, and denies their humanity.

Everyone in the world needs to be able to believe that they are real. And to be real, you have to have an impact, you have to make things happen, have an effect somehow. Everyone needs to believe that they matter.

We don’t need a new hobby, skill or ‘hilarious’ travel photos. We need someone to matter to. Someone who will acknowledge us, validate us, and not make us feel pathetic for needing that. Someone who knows our whole.

Until you find a person who you can really trust to hold the flowing quicksilver of your self, keep having experiences. Create relationships. Make an impact. Don’t just feel – be felt. TC mark

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363230138 Michael Koh

    Were you high when you wrote this?

  • stoic

    Beautiful.

  • ali

    i instinctively pressed the 'share' button after reading this so other people could validate my existence.

  • Anonymous

    seriously considering deleting my facebook because of this

    • anonymous

      i think the author intends to suggest that you can still be real and get real validation through facebook, and we shouldn't be ashamed of the human need for recognition. the same insecurities we have about being recognized in the real world happen in facebook world too. that's fine.

  • yeko

    nice articlde

  • http://www.facebook.com/madeline.criswell Madeline Criswell

    This is the shit I write in my diary, tell us something we didn't know.
    Of course you have to make a difference but all those people trying to “make a difference” have no idea how to do that. If being a child of the 90's has taught me anything its that a lot of my peers think doing something like buying a “save darfur shirt” from is “helping”. We've lost the meaning of true passion and motivation because we all know it will probably amount to nothing.
    I'd rather see ideas and suggestions then senseless revelations we all make when we are stoned.

  • http://www.calvinmarkus.com benny

    all i want is to be validated and recognized

    i also really want to see men in black 3

  • Guest

    I agree with most of this. Next step: why do we want to be remembered at all? Why do we even care if people know that we existed?

  • lame

    booorrriinngg i wanna talk about titties

  • RamonaCC

    I is someone else.

  • Andrea

    I cannot understand the above hatred. This was honest and lovely and real.

  • http://vinabanana.tumblr.com Summerismyseason

    beautiful.

  • http://twitter.com/mal_jones Mallory Jones

    Great musing, I had to share it myself.
    http://bit.ly/gmhL5P

  • Mary

    i've thought about those kinds of things before, but i've moved a bit further… i think that to “matter” or “make a difference” or whatever is an impure thing… a construction of a narrative to give your life a superficial sense of worthiness that, in reality, it will never live up to. it's on the same plane as facebook. i don't see how feeling acknowledged via facebook is so different than feeling acknowledged in 'real' life… facebook just streamlines the process and makes it too perfect and overt, and so we can finally see it. i doubt that the answer is to pull back and re-nurture our superficial real-life relationships as well, because i think that's the definition of ignorance.

  • Nicole

    Preach it Tasha! You speak the truth!

  • http://twitter.com/and_susan Susie Anderson

    seems legit

  • Good one.

    The harsh truth, but still, truth that need to be said. Second article I've read and so far I think you have a magnificent way of writing and analyzing. I guess a lot of people just felt what you wrote, you went beyond feeling. =)

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