Letter of Validation
by Nethaniah Jan J. Lim
You may be giving a toast to the one on the podium or a toast to someone who has achieved a great project. You raise a glass of gold with nothing but bronze hands. The rust eating away at your self-esteem, which was barely there, to be honest. You might feel insignificant amidst the sea of applause and cheers that were never meant to be yours. You sit idly by, waiting for the wave of disappointment to wash over and pass you. Were you really meant for greatness— or mediocrity?
Well, let me remind you—
There is no quota for the number of breaths you need to take each day; to break your bones every sunrise to survive. You do not need to be needed to have permission to live.
You are more, brave heart. These milestones may be pebbles, but let them mark your progress. Behind every victory, big or small is you; you who is fully deserving of recognition. These would not exist without you, for each has grown under your nurturing hands.
But yes, you’re probably tired—physically, mentally, and emotionally. You may be anxious because others are closer to achieving their dreams, and you think you are less than. But quiet the noise and let your engine rev. Remind yourself of the highs in between the lows. After finishing a task, a passion project, or an academic requirement you’ve poured your heart into, let your inner child be in awe of you. For you create with unbridled passion and fly without the weight of expectation. Whenever you feel the rush of accomplishment, remember to only let yourself be the cause of it.
There will be times where you will question that fire, wondering if your light makes a difference at all. You will reach for the handle at that emergency exit with the heaviness in your lungs thinning—but do not take that final step. Loosen your grip. Breathe for four, hold for seven, and release for eight. Repeat.
You were never meant to carry this much poison, this much weight of the world as if you have taken Atlas’ place. You were meant for the truth you so desperately seek, despite the mistakes, the wrong turns, and broken routes. To choose your path is to have the freedom to live. No matter the disapproval of peers, advisers, and parents, this is yours. You are not too late, and staggering growth is growth nonetheless.
Never force yourself on the path that will only dim the passion you’ve tried so hard to ignite. Give yourself a moment and ask: “Was it worth going down this path in exchange for someone else’s dream? Was it worth discarding my own? Have I really lived my life or did I just buy someone else more time?”
Please remember, your worth is not intrinsic. External validation is empty calories. This life, no matter the number of your dependents, is yours. Discard the roles and the many hats one has to keep tucked away into their luggage. This journey has no need for all of that. Keep it light. Know that regardless of an external force reminding you that you matter– you already do.