In the Journey to Validate My(Our)self

The original piece of this article appeared first in LinkedIn Pulse and featured in Student Voices and What Inspires Me.
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“If I can define the terms, one life is enough”

I was re-finishing this amazing book from Paulo Coelho (The Winner Stands Alone) for the fourth time and as usual, I’m starting to be reflective about my life journey.

Last week, I had an amazing opportunity to attend an international business conferencefor undergraduates from one of the student organizations in Princeton University. I still remembered my first reaction when that notification came into my email around two months ago, which was:

“Is this even real?”

The clue for you: of course it is!

You may read this experience for two minutes here.

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It’s no secret that humans are naturally striving for validation. This is important because validation affects the way human see himself (aka. self-esteem). There is a reason why people want to go to the Ivy League universities, get the 4.0. GPA in their university life, work in big firms (especially if we are talking about consulting/ investment banking/ private equity/ venture capital), going after MBA degree in Top 10 schools, etc.

But if you dig deeper, why it’s happening?

The reason is simple:

“Human love the idea of being the -chosen one-”

In modern society, it means that you already passed all possible and legitimate tests that people put to you (it might be SAT, several round behavioral interviews, elected for a leader position in your local university club, etc.). You already passed everything. You are “filtered”. Of course you are the best, right?

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People always forget that there must be something that you have to sacrifice for any outcome that you want, including in our effort to be validated by someone else or by the system around. At least there are three of them, which are:

  1. You have a hard time to clarify your life purpose.

If validation is something that you use as your benchmark, your life purpose will be definitely unclear. Several questions that might disturb you:

  • Why are you here in the first place?
  • Why are you so proud with that A / B / C achievement?
  • Why you choose your job because of the big employer brand?
  • Why you choose to have a lot of debt that might be paid in 5 years time for that MBA degree?
  • Why you decide to postpone your marriage and being left in the process because he/she choose someone else?
  • and the list can go on and on……

Related to this, I have an interesting personal story. Until now, I use several metrics that personally I arrange in order to choose my first job. One of them is the possibility to go to the business school for master degree. I have to admit that I’m consumed with this idea until the moment when I’m connected with someone that already graduated with the MBA degree that become my target. His message to me was really deep that forces me to re-evaluate my way of thinking:

“Just want to highlight my disagreement — (name of the school) is not supposed to be the goal, (name of the school) is supposed to be the mean to accelerate you reaching your goal. So regardless whether you go to (name of the school) or not, focus on achieving your goal. I am sure you can do that even without (name of the school)”

I believe he is right. It’s essential to start with the goal first.

2. It might cost you the personal relationship with friends and families

Paulo Coelho wrote about several characters that we can relate to in The Winner Stands Alone. There is a girl that really want to be a legitimate actress so badly, there is a guy who wants to become that detective who can crack a big case, there is a millionaire that lost his wife but want her back (even if he has to killed people to attract her attention), among others.

Of course in one side, those stories might be not real. But if you read the book deeply, you’ll realize that these characters highlight the reality in our modern life. Our goals to be validated might blind us from the fact that in the process, we might force other people to break their relations with us. We have less time for hangout activities, less time to talk to our parents, even we have less time to express our feelings for someone that we love. The result is clear: humans are less connected today even if social media is everywhere.

“Start to be connected in the real life with people who you care about. Call them and tell them if they are matter in your life”

3. Obsessed with Our Flaws

Source: Everyvowel.com

Fact: No human is perfect

However not many people believe in that. They recognize that it might be true, but we can’t use this as our excuse if we do one or two wrong things in life.

I think it’s not right.

For me, once we face bad things in life, first we have to acknowledge that human has his/her own limitation. This step is crucial because once we accept the truth, only thenwe can be reflective and assess the whole thing in order to do it better next time.

Often, people just jump to the second part rather than start with the the first part. As the result? People think that we are the cool kids with no problem. Of course, that is false. If we can’t handle it well, it might affect our mental health in the future.

“Accept your flaws. Be comfortable with them. Grow with them. Only then, you can unleash your potential”

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For me, I realize that I have big dreams. I’m working on my “why” but I can see it clearer now. It might be not easy, but I know exactly it’s worth it.

But of course, the main question is still there.

“Who should be the one that can validate our existence in life?”

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For me, this is the answer:

It should be me.

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How about you?

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