Affirmation: I choose to give and receive love in equal measure.
This past week was challenging. I received some bad news from several of the universities I applied to, and it was hard to deny the sense of inadequacy that swept over me upon opening my fourth rejection
letter e-mail . Yes, you heard right (or…read right), of the six programs I applied to, in hopes of earning my PHD in Psychology (studying the mind-wandering network—the network in the brain linked to rumination, anxiety, and also dreams—that voice in our head that seems to incessantly loop), I have received four rejections. Three more programs to go (2 of which are my ‘safety’ Masters programs), but this experience has got me thinking…
This news has been (slightly) devastating, causing me to reformulate my position in life and evaluate my place in the world. I have been feeling a sense of unease these past few days as I have begun to question the ways in which I hope to contribute to this world and this constant need for external validation. I have become increasingly aware over the past few days just how incessant this need for approval and validation is. It’s maddening.
Firstly, I began observing my relationship to social media. I am growing curious about what I post, when I post, and why I post, becoming aware of this mind-numbing compulsion for social validation through these social media outlets and I can’t help but feel like a slave to the outside world. Much like the denial from these several grad programs, I am noticing my tendency to seek external validation to illuminate internal worth. Trying desperately to appear a certain way on social media to be liked, accepted, envied even. Why is it that my sense of self has reduced so boldly to a few simple clicks and an algorithm of which I know very little about? Why is it that I am allowing my emotional state to be dictated and controlled by this platform of which could be seen as a tool for sharing/archiving/and discovering?
The addiction to this need for external validation runs deeper than just an incessant need to confirm my worth via social media channels. I remember as a little girl, the fabric of my psyche was similarly composed as I would fondly admire the extroverts, the popular kids, the rebels. Grouping people into an identity, one that I wished to be more part of, while often operating just outside of and on the periphery. I remember being a young girl and idolizing the ‘popular’ kids. Wanting to be like them, dress like them, hang out with them. Driven by the need to be accepted by the ‘cool’ kids, as a measure of my own worth. My grad school validation is eerily similar operating under these same principles. Being accepted by an institution that can claim my worth. In psychology, I believe that this is known as having an ‘external locus of control’, meaning, my internal makeup is soothed only by external means. This often leads to a rollercoaster of emotion, and constant highs and lows as I cling to any approval or acceptance.
I have to be OK with whatever comes my way and recognize that whether I am accepted into grad school or not, it is my responsibility to turn to faith and deepen my understanding of a divine plan. I tried my best when it came to applying this round and if I don’t get in that marks the third year in which I’ve applied and been denied to graduate studies. Maybe, it just isn’t for me… I can’t say that this third rejection will drastically alter the course of my life, but I would be lying if I didn’t say that another rejection may in fact alter me applying again for another cycle. I did put things off last minute in a lot of ways. I didn’t improve in the GRE as much as I would have liked, and I’m not published. The recipe I present to an admissions committee isn’t one that statistically shows success I suppose, and I get it, maybe it just isn’t a good fit. Either way, I am devoted to teaching, I am devoted to consciousness and better understanding these aspects of mental and emotional health and whether I explore that in the formalized institutional setting, or rather in a more individualistic and entrepreneurial way, I am committed to that mission.
I am committed to better understanding this epidemic of anxiety and depression. This sense of isolation and loneliness that may be contributing to the shootings that are happening unexplainably left and right. The pressure and tensions rising in this sometimes volatile world, and how we relate to technology and social media and our striving for acceptance and validation to find a sense of self-worth. All of which make things sometimes seem too much to handle. I am going to dedicate my life to the pressure cooker we call society and work to formulate an alternative route for myself and others that promotes self-soothing, and provides the steps necessary to help us live a life with a calm nervous system.
Sticking it to the man, to the popular kid complex. The avoidance of ‘weird’ people that don’t fit in to some formula. Committing to you. Let’s bring back independence, individuality, and personal responsibility. This gentle/yin yoga sequence and playlist are dedicated to just that, with some heart openers and poses that allow us to be our own best friend while practicing the art of radical self-acceptance.
Amen to that.