The Ache of Being Wanted


Vulnerability alert!

I got dolled up yesterday for Pretty Lipstick Day (random self-esteem booster days established by one of my best friends) and took my picture. Admittedly, it was rather good. I looked rather good. I was very surprised and even more so at the number of likes and comments that it got after I posted it. For the rest of the day, I felt an ache in my gut. And, if I am completely honest with myself, then I know what it is. It’s the ache for being admired, being wanted.

Oh, yes, I’m admired. I’m wanted. My husband adores me and I him. He shows me how much all the time. But, in the interest of honesty, I have to admit that it’s pretty awesome to be admired by others. My self-esteems was never really the best growing up, as you probably know, though it got a bit better in college as I became more comfortable with myself. However, it has never stopped my amazement and giddiness at being admired by others, both known and strangers. When I am told that I am beautiful, or mesmerizing (that was a bellydance goal for me), smiled at, flirted with, or lingered on, I admit that it feels good. Extremely good. It’s great when I am dressed up and trying to look really nice, and even more so when I’m just…well, me. And it makes me hungry for more.

We all have that ache for approval, that hunger to know that we are deemed “good enough” in the eyes of others. It’s not easy to admit because we are afraid that it might reveal us to be self-serving, arrogant, or even narcissistic. But that is not necessarily the case. It’s a very human ache to be wanted, to know that there is something about us that others find attractive, desirable, and good, and, moreover, to be told so, shown so. It’s the craving for the blush, for the warmth, the swell in our chest that come from being being admired. It makes us feel pretty or handsome, it makes us stand up straighter and walk a little taller, maybe even strut a little. And there is nothing wrong with that. No, we should not place our self-worth solely in the compliments of others; that would be unhealthy. But to deny that we, as interdependent creatures in a highly social environment (introvert or extrovert aside), do not desire admiration, to be wanted and desired, would be a lie.

Yes, I’ve been feeling that ache lately and also working to convince myself, not just you, that it is indeed OK. My self-esteem wars with my reason very often – forcing me to weigh out whether or not I have a right to the emotions that I feel – and, therefore, I do not feel like it is OK a lot of the time. So everything that I’ve just told you goes double for myself.

So, if you feel the ache, do not despair. It’s OK. I do, too. It’s not necessarily fun to feel that way but we can own it, admit it to ourselves, and realize that it is human and it is all right. We all feel that way and we can help each other out, make the ache a little less. Tell a friend, or someone that you just think it of, that they look nice today or that you miss them or enjoy being around them.

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