“I’m proud of you.” Many people spend their whole lives chasing this sentence. Everyone wants to feel validated and supported. While this is true, especially for me, I cringe when I am told “I’m proud of you.” Why?
Growing up, and for most of my life, I’ve felt like a failure. I’ve always been a mile behind everyone, overly sensitive, and lost. I instinctively tear myself down, because that is what I’ve always known. I was never good enough. Not for anyone around me, although I tired. I tried and I failed repeatedly, because the expectations of others were too high. I couldn’t be happy with myself, and I couldn’t possibly feel accepted or loved. Despite all this, there has been one person who continuously has said “I’m proud of you.”
At first, I felt desperate for this sort of validation. I loved it and I needed more. It pushed me to try again, and again, to be better. But soon, I felt how I’ve felt for years now. I hear these words and they are empty. They are meaningless. They are words.
I am told over and over, almost daily, “I’m proud of you” and I feel nothing but anger now. Anger and frustration. I feel I am being lied to. I’m being coddled. They are overcompensating for the fact that, at one point, these were the words I needed most but never heard. They are doing only what they think they should. But they are wrong. I don’t want meaningless words repeated to me again, and again. I want and need genuine appreciation and support. I know they love me. I know they are proud. But they can’t possible have pride in everything I do every second of the day. Every time I call, every time I text. I wait for the inevitable words.
I am blessed. I know that. I am thankful for this person and their love for me. But I don’t want empty words and false support. I want honesty. I don’t always deserve someone’s pride. In fact, I rarely do. And I want to know that when I hear “I’m proud of you” it has weight.
Thank you for reading. If you have tips on how to handle this dilemma, please comment.