Here’s What Everyone Is Looking For

Have you seen the movie The Switch with Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman? At one point in the film, Jason’s character Wally says: “Look at us, running around. Always rushed, always late. I guess that’s why they call it the human race. What we crave most in this world is”…what? What does he say?

Connection. We crave relationships that mentally and emotionally link us to someone else. It’s a big, scary world out there and we don’t want to have to deal with it all alone.

In the film Shall We Dance? Richard Gere’s character takes dancing lessons without telling his wife. She (Susan Sarandon) begins to wonder where he goes at night and hires a private detective to find out. When they meet, she and the detective discuss why people get married. Her theory is this:

“We need a witness to our lives. There’s a billion people on the planet… I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you’re promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things… all of it, all of the time, every day. You’re saying ‘Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness’.”

We crave connection – with someone who truly cares about us and everything that happens to us.

We want to be seen, and heard, and understood. We want the good, the bad, and the ugly in our life to be witnessed – but more than that, we also want it to be significant to someone else because we are significant to them.

We want that connection to be with someone who sees our uniqueness and is sharp enough to appreciate it and caring enough to nurture it. We want them to know our frailties but accept them because they know our strengths far outweigh them. We want their eyes to light up with joy when we enter the room the way a child’s eyes light up on Christmas morning when they see what Santa left under the tree for them.

We want to feel important, and we want to be valued. We want everything about us and everything that happens to us to be noticed and noted because we need to believe we are special, and we need someone else to believe it, too.

We want our particular brand of wonderful to be recognized, validated, and appreciated.

So here’s my question: How much of our money and time is spent trying to attract those witnesses and forge those connections? How much of what we surround and decorate ourselves with is meant to be alluring, enticing, interesting, charming, or endearing?

And how much of that is really just clutter?

If we want genuine validation, we have to cultivate authentic substance – not just an image we try to create by having a closet full of “trendy” clothes or a house full of “cool” stuff. A kitchen full of appliances won’t make us chefs and a wall full of books won’t make us well-read. In the end, those things won’t fool anyone into validating our worth – including ourselves. The connections we all hope to make only come from who we are – not from what we have.

Understanding the game and recognizing our natural tendency to play it may help you to dig out from under some of the clutter in your life that’s really just façade. It’s only after you uncover the true and unique beauty that is you without all the trappings that you’ll be able to find your witness…your connection…your genuine validation.

Ironically, you won’t need it anymore. But let’s be real. You’ll still want it.

[When you have 16 minutes and need a lift, watch this short film called Validation. As it promises, it’s “guaranteed to make you feel good.” 🙂 ]