?

Log in

No account? Create an account
Show Validation Errors - The Book of the Celestial Cow

> Recent Entries
> Archive
> Friends
> Profile
> My Website

March 27th, 2008


Previous Entry Share Next Entry
09:58 pm - Show Validation Errors
A few days ago, I made a short post about a pretty woman who made me happy by rubbing my arm. It spawned at least four other posts that were tangentially related to my original idea, which I don't think entirely came across. So I wanted to clarify why I wrote what I did.

The arm rub made an impression on me, and it made an impression on me because it made an impression on me. Because I thought I had my self-esteem in order, you see. I thought I was generally happy with who I was, or at least happier. But yet, attention from a pretty woman still validated me, still made me feel better.

And I wondered why. Why it mattered that she rubbed my arm, why it mattered that she was pretty. What did it say about me that I needed external validation from someone I found attractive? Intellectually, I knew it didn't mean she found me attractive; it was just a friendly gesture. But maybe emotionally, I didn't care. She was nice and friendly and liked libraries; it's not like her appearance was the only positive thing about her. So why was I so focused on it? Especially when, seriously, any woman I just met who hugged me and rubbed my arm would set off my inner "Aw, shucks."

In discussions following the original post, I came to the realization that I have been told I'm SMART my whole life. By this point, I hardly believe it, it's been so instilled in me. I don't want people to tell me I'm smart anymore. I want them to tell me I'm HOT because that's what I'm not used to hearing. So then it would make sense that I would consider people I think are hot to be the keenest arbiters of whether or not I am hot. It might make sense. We all know there's definitely, definitely, definitely no logic to human behaviour.

I also realized that my original post was basically a callback to this post from three years ago, ironically titled "Not a Pretty Boy." In case you were wondering whether men had the same beauty issues as women.

And it turns out I'm still that same guy from three years ago. Am I dysfunctional? Is it okay to be pleased by the beauty of people? Why should a particularly pretty woman have any more power over me than another? I'm still the same person regardless. Of course, we seek validation from all kinds of sources: funny people, popular people, famous people, rich people, etc. We want people who have what we want to tell us that we are just as good as they are.

It's a silly, sad system, but I don't know how any of us can get around it. Is it just human nature?

The discussions inspired by my post caused me to question myself and my motives and how I felt, drudging up issues I thought I had long since resolved. In an attempt to reaffirm my identity, I end with words I wrote five years ago almost to the day:

I'm feeling strangely content with who I am, faults and all. I'm a romantic and an asshole, an idealist and a cynic, a hero and a loser, smart and stupid, sweet and spiteful, thoughtful and lazy. Word to your mother.
Current Mood: coldcold
Current Music: Muse - Map of the Problematique

(57 memoirs | Describe me as "inscrutable")

Comments:


Page 1 of 2
<<[1] [2] >>
[User Picture]
From:sophia_helix
Date:March 28th, 2008 05:44 am (UTC)
(Link)
For a woman who's been in a relationship all nine years of her adult life, I have a ridiculous amount of romantic issues; to wit, I know perfectly well I would be utterly screwed if I ever needed to find another partner in case of death or disaster.

It's probably silly to base any of this on my high school dating experiences (two short, stupid dalliances), so I can't really use all the years I spent painfully alone, all my flirtations rebuffed, as a reference point. But I do know that I am incapable of meeting strangers' eyes, and that if I dress at all provocatively on a night out I always regret drawing any attention. Of course I'm too gregarious (purely out of nerves, of course) in any social setting not to drive people off, and I basically just pass for "acceptable" in the looks department, but that's all irrelevant in the face of me being utterly unable to engage with someone that way. (Constantly knowing that I can't encourage anyone hasn't honed that skill, but I never had it to begin with.)

But regarding looks.... yes. And I treasure any kind of validation from someone, even though I've got no right to feel unsatisfied due to being married. Which is depressing, I know, because being in a serious relationship is supposed to make all that stuff not matter, so, sorry. *g*
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:March 28th, 2008 05:53 am (UTC)
(Link)
It never ends? DAMMIT.
[User Picture]
From:catatonia00
Date:March 28th, 2008 06:21 am (UTC)
(Link)
THE BISCUIT! As in John Cage, Biscuit, right? You have me reminiscing the good ole days of McBeal neurosis now. Aww, that show used to be so much fun.

Of course, we seek validation from all kinds of sources: funny people, popular people, famous people, rich people, etc. We want people who have what we want to tell us that we are just as good as they are.

That's really all there is to it. I don't think it's inherently human nature. Rather, it's a habitual behavior concocted, cultivated, molded, manipulated by media, culture and a ginormous amount of people who have the time and energy to think outside the basic necessities in life because we are beyond cooking up fires and playing with stones in the bat caves. Or I'm just making it up as I go. Because the human brain, not just the actual anatomical part, but what the stuff the brain can come up with knows no bounds.

In fairness, you really are so much cuter when you smile with your teeth. And even though I don't necessarily like your green cords, it's cool that you love wearing it. Also, maybe a little manscaping might be good for a change? Y/N?

We are all walking paradoxes. Love it, live it.

Edited at 2008-03-28 06:27 am (UTC)
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:March 28th, 2008 06:28 am (UTC)
(Link)
THE BISCUIT! As in Ally McBeal Biscuit, right?
Yes indeedy.

Rather, it's a habitual behavior concocted, cultivated, molded, manipulated by media, culture and a ginormous amount of people who have the time and energy to think outside the basic necessities in life because we are beyond cooking up fires and playing with stones in the bat caves.
I don't know. I don't think the human race would have evolved if humans didn't continually try to improve. And in order to improve, you have to admit that the current state of things is non-ideal.

In fairness, you really are so much cuter when you smile with your teeth.
Thank you.

Also, maybe a little manscaping might be good for a change?
I barely know what that word means, and now I am afraid of it.
[User Picture]
From:arbitrarium
Date:March 28th, 2008 06:25 am (UTC)
(Link)
I think most people don't get directly told that they're hot? And if they are told that, then I think most people would like the feeling they would get from hearing it. Your "am I dysfunctional" question might be rhetorical, but I don't think you are anyway. Maybe don't think of it as validation. It's not bad that the arm rubbing was a good experience for you. It's positive interaction with a fellow human being. If you thought she was attractive, that's a side bonus.

But yet, attention from a pretty woman still validated me, still made me feel better.
I still think of when you told me I looked nice at the mall! Are you saying that if I had high self esteem then that wouldn't have made an impression on me? Or that if you weren't attractive then it wouldn't have meant as much?

I am keeping my eyes open for any nice red-headed Indian girls on campus for you! *hugs*
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:March 28th, 2008 06:33 am (UTC)
(Link)
I think most people don't get directly told that they're hot?
It doesn't even have to be telling directly so much as being made to feel it.

It's positive interaction with a fellow human being. If you thought she was attractive, that's a side bonus.
That's kind of what it is, pretty much. And then there all sorts of societal issues with attractiveness being a bonus. Or something.

I still think of when you told me I looked nice at the mall!
Aw. You really did!

Are you saying that if I had high self esteem then that wouldn't have made an impression on me? Or that if you weren't attractive then it wouldn't have meant as much?
I don't know! I'm trying to work it all out myself! It doesn't mean that everyone is wired the same way or I actually understand my own wiring correctly. And, wait, ARE YOU IMPLYING THAT I AM ATTRACTIVE??

I am keeping my eyes open for any nice red-headed Indian girls on campus for you!
Thank you!

*hugs*
*hugs* I feel like it's already been too long since I've seen you.
[User Picture]
From:kibarika
Date:March 28th, 2008 10:15 am (UTC)
(Link)
For the record, I still find your knowledge of participles hot. Which doesn't really help with the looks question, but remains true after 3 years. I find this reassuring.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:March 28th, 2008 03:02 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Hee. We hold onto our constants.
[User Picture]
From:sjester
Date:March 28th, 2008 10:36 am (UTC)
(Link)
That post might inspire another tangentially related post. Well, that one, of the response type posts, and other things that have been going on. Depends on if I take some time from my busy social and cleaning schedule to sit down and write it. Or end up taking writing time to work on something else. But, the point is, related things have been on my mind lately.
[User Picture]
From:jeeperstseepers
Date:March 28th, 2008 02:17 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Just about everyone loves when an attractive person expresses approval or interest in them. And many of us feel good when anyone pays attention, even if the person expressing interest isn't attractive. I think craving attention from any human being in the world, regardless of how good or bad or mean or nice or ugly or pretty they are is more indicative of self-esteem issues than enjoying a bit of attention from an attractive woman. I'd wonder about a guy who doesn't respond to that sort of thing way you do.

Edited at 2008-03-28 02:18 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
From:gymble
Date:March 28th, 2008 02:31 pm (UTC)
(Link)
For what it's worth, I understood the point of your original post (though I don't think that I commented, because I've been stuck in the inner circles of grad school hell). My husband, as you know, is similar to you in some respects and he basically has the same reaction to pretty women. Yes, still. He wants to be found attractive. We all do really, but I think that it takes on a special import for those of us who have always been more "smart" than "pretty."

While I know that the word "pretty" in the sense of physical attractiveness became fixated I on, I thought that it was implied in your original post that she was also a nice, interesting person. I may be projecting, but I can't find someone attractive if their personality sucks. So, "pretty," at least when applied to people I've actually met (it's easier with celebrities to just focus on looks), always carries extra connotations of "person I wouldn't mind spending time with." Obviously physical attractiveness is wrapped up in it, but I don't I think that it can be fully separated from the other aspects of someone's personality.

Anyway, I'm babbling and once again probably talking more about myself than anything else. But you're not dysfunctional or anything for feeling this way. I think that most if not all people would feel a little better about themselves in analogous circumstances.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:March 28th, 2008 03:07 pm (UTC)
(Link)
For what it's worth, I understood the point of your original post (though I don't think that I commented, because I've been stuck in the inner circles of grad school hell).
Thanks.

My husband, as you know, is similar to you in some respects and he basically has the same reaction to pretty women. Yes, still.
Heh. Oh, us.

While I know that the word "pretty" in the sense of physical attractiveness became fixated I on, I thought that it was implied in your original post that she was also a nice, interesting person. I may be projecting, but I can't find someone attractive if their personality sucks.
Yeah, if they're not remotely nice or interesting, I just don't...care. Those people wouldn't be worth my attention or time anyway.
[User Picture]
From:jenelope
Date:March 28th, 2008 02:38 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I think you're very handsome.

I have a blind spot when it comes to my own looks. I can look in the mirror on a good day and say, "Yep, I'm very pretty. Maybe even beautiful. My skin is beautiful, my eyes are beautiful, and my features are very regular and pretty." But in my whole life, I have almost never felt attractive. I swear, I continued dating a guy I wasn't physically attracted to for six months just because he once told me, "I think you're very pretty."
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:March 28th, 2008 03:08 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I think you're very handsome.
Aw, shucks.

I swear, I continued dating a guy I wasn't physically attracted to for six months just because he once told me, "I think you're very pretty."
I can understand that.
[User Picture]
From:annabelleonyx
Date:March 28th, 2008 02:43 pm (UTC)
(Link)
We want people who have what we want to tell us that we are just as good as they are.

Weird. Bert and I were having this conversation over dinner last night. Or, sort of this conversation. It was actually about something that I had heard in a psychology class I took in college; that everyone looks for someone slightly better than them in a mate. To which Bert pointed out that while that may be true in the end everyone settles.

Which then made us stare at eachother in silence. Possibly lamenting that neither one of us was the perfect person that we were both looking for?

But my feelings on it are that we look for someone that has things we don't have so that by having them we are just as good as they are. On our own we'd never make it.

My point to Bert of course is that without me he would never have a clean toilet. Without him I would never have England. It seems a fair exchange, no?

[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:March 28th, 2008 03:11 pm (UTC)
(Link)
But my feelings on it are that we look for someone that has things we don't have so that by having them we are just as good as they are. On our own we'd never make it.
Yeah, I get that. It's the whole "You complete me" thing. You want to be a Whole Piece of Awesome, together.
[User Picture]
From:daynr
Date:March 28th, 2008 02:57 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I don't think that because you reacted to her the way you did that you haven't changed; if nothing else I bet you behave differently than a few years ago. And it's nice that you did feel so good for a few minutes.

Who were the 4 posts?
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:March 28th, 2008 03:10 pm (UTC)
(Link)
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:March 28th, 2008 03:48 pm (UTC)
(Link)
No, I don't think that has anything to do with it. It affects whether I act on anything, but I think filtering out compliments is plain old self-esteem, or the lack thereof.
[User Picture]
From:lodessa
Date:March 28th, 2008 03:51 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Self Esteem is a tough one and I don't think it's something we are ever done working on or developing. I've been doing therapy for at least 3 years now and I have made progress but things still set me off and make me realize how deeply insecure, needy, and messed up I am still. Often it involves my father, but not always. We all want to be loved, appreciated, respected, and admired. Who can really say that they have achieved all those things though? So we try and cut off our desire for the things we aren't as good at getting out of other people and focus on what we are good at, but that means those holes in ourselves just sit there festering.
[User Picture]
From:chasethestars
Date:March 28th, 2008 04:52 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Halfway into reading this post, I started thinking about Hot or Not. And then the version that was created for UC Berkeley, in which most of the students were rated Not, and people would create profiles and submit pictures of Kristen Kreuk (I think I spelled that wrong) who became the top rated. This was in the first 2 weeks, I didn't check back after. And then there was the nonuglies community on LJ that I thought was hilarious. Maybe I didn't know what trolling was back then, but there were some seriously horrible submissions that obviously did not fit the mods criteria of "hot" and I wondered why they'd even put themselves up there to be bashed like that.

If I had a point, um, I forgot? That was just where my trial of thought went.

Like you said, wanting validation is human nature. We grew up going to school and doing work to get validated with good grades and praise. If I said something funny, I'd feel more SQUEE about it if a comedian laughed, than if just any person laughed because it seems more of a challenge to get that approval. Same with hotness and anything else?
[User Picture]
From:behindpyramids
Date:March 28th, 2008 04:54 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Why is it that physical beauty has such power?

Even though I stick my nose up in the air and tell myself I'm above looks, and admiring people for how physically attractive they are is shallow...
I pander to it just as much as anyone else.
I found getting hit on by someone attractive, extremely validating. More so because it's been drummed into my head that I'm a nerdy person, and nerdy people aren't hot.
And I think because of that air I like to project, the effects are magnified: I take pot shots at my looks. People around me think it's okay to do the same. Then it's even more validating to get a compliment on my looks/feel affirmed by someone attractive.

What makes me feel better, is that I've found, the people I like have become much more attractive the longer I know them.


P.S. I do think you are hot.

P.P.S. I realize this only has value if you think I am hot, so I will assure you that I am very hot indeed, and you should believe me.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:March 28th, 2008 05:02 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Hee. Thank you.
[User Picture]
From:incidentist
Date:March 28th, 2008 04:56 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Dunno if I posted on the original, but basically: I know what you mean, and I think you probably know that there's still some unstated nuance here. People tell you you're hot all the time, because you are, and yet...and yet...

Also, the title of this post wins the Post Title of the Month award. A framed portrait of the title is now hanging in my room, under a plaque.

Because you're so smart! And witty! C'mon, you love it when people say it. :P
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:March 28th, 2008 05:05 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Dunno if I posted on the original, but basically: I know what you mean
Of course you do; we're the same person.

Also, the title of this post wins the Post Title of the Month award.
Heeeee. You would appreciate it. We had some safety database issues yesterday, and I hadn't seen that message in a while. It seemed appropriate.

Because you're so smart! And witty! C'mon, you love it when people say it.
I DO. IT'S ALL I HAVE.

> Go to Top
LiveJournal.com