Dear Approval Addict,
Checking in on you. How long have you spent this week hovering over an Instagram or Twitter post waiting for a like or retweet? How much time have you spent wishing it was you instead of [Current advocate/activist who has the spotlight of the moment?] who has the byline, or panel invite, or a twitter mention from some public figure the world swoons over?
Let me begin by saying, I FEEL YOU. Deeply. It’s likely you’ve spent much of your life aiming to collect a bucket full of “Yes! You’re amazings!” to validate your very existence. If you’re like me, you carry so many identities that even if you feel like you’ve received a stamp of approval in one space, you likely don’t feel the same in another. And now, if you’ve become connected in one manner or another to the disability community…well, here’s yet another group of people that you wanna win the hearts of.
Now, let me encourage you, as one who has learned the hard way: LET. THAT. ISH. GO. Easier said than done, I know. But, take it from the woman who used to sit with flashcards every night trying to remember the names of the “key players” in the community and all of the acronyms for everything disability-related just so she could fit in during work meetings and community gatherings -it ain’t worth it! These people are just that. PEOPLE. Decades from now, their approval of you will have had little or nothing to do with where you end up (unless you’re down with having these folx control your life, which I DO NOT recommend).
If you’re the type of approval addict who’s willing to take someone else’s authentic ideas and work and act like it’s your own…Or, perhaps you’re the crip who pulls from other social justice movements in the name of “comparison” to get sympathy (aka approval) from those who don’t know any better? We see you. We know you. And we’re exhausted from calling you out and trying to fix your mistakes. Two words for you: JUST. STOP.
Take a step or a roll back and ask yourself the one question that changed my life a few years ago: What do YOU want? Forget what everyone else is doing or saying. What do YOU want to say? What do YOU want to do? And what do you NOT want to do? Don’t feel obligated to co-sign or maneuver a certain way if you’re not totally sold on it. Go with what you desire to see manifested in your life. Write and/or document this. Reach out to people who you believe you can trust and ask if they can provide guidance. I can’t promise you a “yes” from everyone, but I imagine there’s at least ONE person available to guide you.
With all sincerity,
A Recovering Approval Addict