It's also easy to feel anonymous and insignificant in the world. Even with all of the ways for us to be connected, it can still feel like we're shouting to the wind. In looking externally for validation, we're hoping that someone will recognize us, learn our names, shout our accolades. But life isn't really like that. Humans are kinda self-interested, first and foremost. We'll pay attention to other folks if what they have to say or what they're doing directly affects us. Otherwise, we deploy our highly-evolved filtering tools and screen out "the rest" as noise. And the funny thing is that while we routinely involve ourselves in self-interested filtering behavior, we less frequently look inward for self-validation and self-esteem. It's almost as if we think that who we are doesn't matter unless someone validates us, yet at the same time who we are matters to us all the time. What a weird conundrum.
I bring this up because as I was scrolling through articles about the Oregon community college shooting last week, I came across an article alleging that the shooter posted online that he thought that randomly killing people was the only way he would ever feel "significant." This terrible example illustrates what I'm talking about to an extreme. Violence and seeking notoriety are never, ever, ever, not ever, never ever reasonables responses to feelings of invisibility or anonymity.
The best way to feel significant is to live a significant life. Build up an arsenal of goodness, not an arsenal of guns and violence. This lesson goes for everyone, because we all fall somewhere on the seeking-external-validation spectrum. If you have ever felt invisible, insignificant, worthless, empty, you're not alone. Not by a mile. Every one of us has felt that way, and every one of us can do something positive about it.
It's not easy, but we all need to learn how to seek validation in ourselves first and foremost. Just imagine how different your perception of the world would be if you told yourself good stuff about you and actually listened. Instead of belittling messages of self-hate, take stock in messages of self-love. Build up fodder for self-congratulations by living in a manner that makes it easy to be self-affirming. Then when the time comes for you to give yourself a pep talk, it won't be hard to conjure up Stuart Smalley with a daily affirmation of "I'm good enough, smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!" Before seeking external validation, ask yourself, "What do I hope that person tells me?" Then tell it to yourself.