Here is a very important lesson I learned today, not only about myself, but about the world as a whole: People have a need to be validated. People must constantly be reminded of the good they have in them. I suppose this is something that I have been told, in countless other variations of speech, many times. One of the few things I still remember from four years of studying Economics is that people respond to incentives. And my mother, in one of her most memorable emails to me, once wrote that the way of handling all living creatures should be a matter of common sense: You treat plants, animals or people with kindness, attention, and nourishment, and they will flourish.
The problem with being me, however, is that sometimes I am possessed with wild imaginations that the world will understand what I am doing without prior explanation. It never occurred to me, to make the long story short, that people might need more positive reinforcement than I do. The most vivid takeaways of the past four years are all constructive criticism on things I need to improve on or harsh judgment on things I am not doing right. They came from all sorts of influences around me: feedback from people I work with, arguments with friends, even internal debates with myself. I made the mistake of forgetting that just because I am used to not being appreciated – if only because there are not very many things I have done of late that are worth lauding – does not mean that other persons can function whilst being unappreciated as well.
This realization makes the conversation I had with my thesis adviser earlier even more heartwarming. She told me – and she told me twice, in a way that let me know she was speaking from the bottom of her heart, and in as objective a way as her position allowed her to – that she was proud of my presentation during my thesis defense. Aside from birthday greetings, it has been a very long time since I have received a compliment of the sort. It is embarrassing to admit that a single statement could make me feel so worthy of being a person. Discounting friends and family, who have always been and will always be my support system, I have not experienced this much appreciation from a practical stranger in a very long time. For that single sentence alone, for those five short words, I will be eternally grateful. (And yes, I cried over this.)
To cap off this realization, and a day of very hugot-like emotions, I give you the cover song that will be my LSS in the next few days. I am hoping your days are full of realizations as well, although hopefully of a less teary kind.