The other day, I purchased an airline ticket online. Immediately afterwards, a screen popped up to ask for my “feedback.” Later that day, I picked up dry cleaning. A few minutes later, a text arrived asking me to evaluate their services. The same experience occurred after leaving my doctor’s office for an eye exam, and it happens daily at almost every checkout counter from hamburgers to retail with a website on the bottom of the receipt asking to be rated.
The power of feedback is certainly useful – most of us can agree on that. So for actual services, like my dry cleaner or eye doctor, I don’t mind letting the company or service provider know what was useful or what needs improvement. But for automated purchases or a checkout where the clerk provided no service or help whatsoever, I don’t feel inclined to invest my time on a simple transaction.
And there’s the question – did you have an “experience” or merely a business transaction? The purpose of this “validation” is what concerns me. While the Millennial generation gets most of the blame for needing constant feedback, it seems businesses are taking surveys and feedback to a pesky level with incessant requests.
It makes me wonder about how we view ourselves – when did we become so needy for tangible reinforcement? Why do we crave validation for our very existence? What is the need for never-ending feedback? When did this need to confirm our worthiness or existence move from self-motivated to being dependent upon others?
Growing up, I was validated by my family as smart, creative and a leader. My sister Elizabeth, however, was always the “pretty one.” We laugh about it now but as a child, to be publicly acknowledged as pretty became the validation I secretly hungered for. My senior year at Auburn University, I was selected as a top finalist to represent the University as “Miss Auburn.” Young women in this category represented both brains and beauty. Finally, the validation I sought became a reality. I didn’t win the title and quite frankly, that wasn’t the point for me. It was all about the confirmation.
You would think this enormous honor would be enough to settle my desire. It wasn’t. Quite simply, I didn’t believe on the inside that my outer beauty was good enough. There was always room to compare myself to others. Without inner validation, all the positive feedback and comments in the world can’t create true peace.
And so we come back to the issue of how we are becoming a “Validation Nation” seeking confirmation that our services, products, beliefs and selves are “good enough.” As spirited women, we seek our own true north to empower those around us. We find strength in the sisterhood with encouragement and inspiration. This is the type of “validation” that builds strong women from the inside out – my kind of “validation.”
What about you? Where do you find yourself craving validation? What would make you happy without waiting for feedback from others? What are you waiting for someone else to notice, do or give to you? Can moving ahead in that direction be a way to empower and validate yourself?