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Health & Fitness

Self-confidence heals the validation disease

 

Q “I have a big problem of constantly engaging in activities just to win validation from my group of friends. How can I kick off this habit? I feel imprisoned”

You sound like a most insecure person! Is this something new, or have you always been like that? If it is new, then you may have to seek help urgently in case you find there is an easy cure for what is clearly a serious problem. If on the other hand this has been your “personality” then the “cure” might be a little more difficult to put in place.

A few years ago, we saw a university student who was in similar shoes to yours. She had come from a leading all-girls school and had been admitted to university to study medicine. On account of her Form IV results, she was expected to settle down quickly into the course and generally breeze through the medical course.

When that did not happen, a number of questions were asked. Great urgency was felt by all when she failed her second semester exams. She had no record of failure in any past exam. She was an ‘A’ student from primary school who was liked by all the teachers. Upon this first time failure, concerns about her welfare were expressed and it was decided to seek her out.

When she was eventually located in her room at campus, there was shock and horror all round. The number of bottles found in her room told the story of a girl who was drinking heavily. Her room smelt worse than a pig sty and cigarette butts were strewn all over the dirty place, many of which were moulding.

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It was clear that something had gone wrong with this top student who was clearly unable to cope with her first year at university. Arrangements were made for her admission to a private mental health facility and the story that emerged was typical of so many others who at the age of 19 years “tasted” freedom for the first time, on entering university. Clearly nobody had prepared her for university and the freedoms that came with youth in the city.

On the first weekend, she had stayed in her room, much as she had done all her life in high school. A member of the Christian Union, she had enjoyed her own company, often in contemplative prayer and study. She was a prefect and often led prayers at school assembly.

During the second week, she met some “city girls” who were fellow students, and who had established deep roots in the city. They easily persuaded her to go out with them the following week, and that was the beginning of the slippery slope, out of which she could not pull herself!

At first it was much teasing about her way of dressing and in general the way she carried herself. She was told that she was now at university, free from the rules of the headmistress, and away from the watchful eye of her mother, that she had an ID, she could go anywhere she pleased and did not need the permission of anybody.

She was convinced (perhaps like you) that without being in the crowd, she was nothing and life would pass her by. Her “friends” reasoned that the time to have fun is while at university because after that one would get married and be under the “rule of the husband”. University was the only time one was truly free.

Soon, she tasted a glass of white wine which “gave her good sleep”. She began to enjoy the company of the city girls who seemed to be on the fast lane of life. Soon she developed a severe form of FOMO (fear of missing out). She started to feel that if any of the girls was going out, she “needed” to be there otherwise she might miss out on all the fun!

Once or twice she had missed classes because of late nights and severe headaches. The other girls seemed to cope with life on the fast lane. They did not go out as often as she did, because she was the only one who needed “validation” from all her friends. Freedom was a new toy for her. She did not know how to handle it.

One day she woke up in a lodging and had no recollection of how she got there. She had lost both her memory and her virginity. Life went from bad to worse. Now she felt she needed to get validation not only from the girls, but from boys as well. She got to “know” many of the boys, but sadly they kept moving on. In the end, the only thing that “validated” her was alcohol and cannabis. She got the help that she clearly needed.

Many weeks of therapy were followed by a return of her self-confidence, and the last we heard of her, she was in final year of her studies.

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