Like Anyone Else

Like anyone else who may want to feel productive or feel “put-together”, I install Chrome extensions like momentum dash. This installation was in an attempt to feel ‘focused’, when in reality I was trawling through Twitter and just having a good time.

Do what you love, not what you think you’re supposed to do.

Like anyone else, I have an eye for little phrases or quotes that appear on walls, on bags, on shirts – perhaps you also have momentum dash, and perhaps you also enjoy its ‘daily quote’ function. You see, momentum dash provides users with a daily quote below their ‘Hello Y/N’ banner. I’ve been Tweeting the quotes I find inspirational (to myself), the quotes said by people who I find are inspiring (to myself) and relating them to my own life.

Like anyone else, I am subjective. (to myself) is a disclaimer in small round brackets that informs you that I may like the quotes I Tweet, but you don’t have to like them–you may not even find these quotes of any value. My first point in this preamble-example is that life is about subjectivity because human beings are full of life whether we choose to walk around our college like dead potatoes and it is in our human nature to like some things and dislike some things, and other humans may like the things one dislikes; vice versa.

But my second point that I wish to bring across is that like anyone else, I need validation.

I don’t mean that I require someone to ‘fact-check’ me all the time – although I hover dangerously close to that level of need when it comes to doing up speeches for MUN on the spot – what I do mean is that I need my thoughts to be ‘accepted’ by someone. When I’m talking to a friend or to a classmate, I tend to let the words “Do ya get what I mean? Yeah?” slip out and away from my lips like how skin peels from an apple when you put an apple-peeler to its unblemished surface. It’s so natural for me to ask for people’s thoughts on my thought; my anxiety about ‘my thought’ is like an apple-peeler, while the skin that comes off is the question – and the flesh of the apple is the core of my thought.

One day, my ‘apple’ thoughts will sit there on the kitchen counter, completely bare and rid of any skin, waiting for someone to take a knife and slice it all up. When that happens, I feel that my mouth will be shut and I will no longer be writing – because someone will be in the process of slicing all my thoughts up into bite-sized chunks, into the size of apple and the side of apple that they prefer.

Validation. It’s a big word, and for now I view it as ‘acceptance’. We ‘validate’ our opinions against someone else’s conscious stream of thought to ensure that our perspectives are aligned, and let out the breaths we hold when the other person says “Yeah, I totally understand”, and the stars become aligned in the sky, too.

Validation was a thought that slid into the concave of my skull as I was reading VIRGINIA WOOLF by Alexandra Harris.

Virginia Woolf is an authoress (the author of one of my literature books, actually) and the vivid account of Woolf’s life, Woolf’s ambition and Woolf’s background that shaped her as a writer has quickly become something that I thought about all weekend. There were several developments and interactions within the pages of this very ‘Victorian’ book – slightly thicker, cream-coloured pages and a cream-coloured ribbon as a page-marker – that are stuck in my mind because they reflect several Tweets/Instagram posts I saw this weekend.

  1. Virginia Woolf had an acquired taste for ‘friendships’ that either sunk in too deep (Vita, who she actually slept with) and or skimmed the surface (T.S Elliot came over for tea-time, but did not do the talk and talk and talk which she enjoyed doing with closer friends).
  2. Virginia Woolf did not have a ‘passionate’ relationship with her lover, Leonard Woolf – rather, she viewed their meeting (& consequently their gradually warm marriage) as ‘certain’. She was ‘certain’ that Leonard was the one.
  3. Virginia Woolf was able to ‘sketch out the shape of her novel’ – Alexandra Harris proceeds to let a bewildered Me know that her novel was ‘in the shape of an H’, two trunks of lines in grayscale ‘connected by a bridge’.
  4. Virginia Woolf had frequent bouts of sickness as she grew older and the name ‘Virginia Woolf’ became more known on the lips of people – her competitors, publications, sculptors who wanted to sculpt a bust resembling Woolf, etc.

There’s a certain ‘science’ that the passionate authoress seems to rely on; there is a pattern and a structure that can be identified as one journeys through the account of Woolf’s life – and at first I found this strange, because I  never want to reduce the struggle of someone’s passion pursuit to a formula that can be calculated or measured.

This ‘science’ that she followed – or rather, that the events in her life seemed to follow – allowed her to understand herself better, and take breaks from type-setting or over-working when necessary. The ‘science’ behind events that occurred along the thread of her passionate  pursuits (be it love affairs with books, plots or people — or intense rivalries with Katherine Mansfield and passive teas with T.S Elliot) enabled a remarkable routine to form in her life of frenzied and flowing writing.

The ‘scientific’ way in which she sometimes conducted her life and studied other people gave her bouts of passionate writing and foray into wild and unconventional relationships a place in the life of Virginia Woolf.

Her passion for all things literary was, in a way, validated by her scientific approach to interpersonal relationships and sketches of her stories.

The point I wish to end with is this: It is okay to  need validation from anything or anywhere or any system – because ultimately, this validation would push you to feel more comfortable or courageous in what you’re doing.

Of course, the same can’t be said for clearly invasive and obscure validation from someone/thing that you did not even intend to ask for validation from. Validation is not necessary, but it is something that may help us to move on from our mistakes, and serves as just one of the checks and balances which we are able to utilize in life.

V is Virginia Woolf and V is also for Validation. The two are not necessarily inter-related, but there is a certain something about her Vivacious life.

Finally, the aforementioned quote at the beginning becomes relevant:

Do what you love, not what you think you’re supposed to do.

We have to strike a balance. Of course validation, in healthy amounts, can be a confidence-booster and can be useful and relevant to your lifestyle. However, the ultimate validation is yourself – do you find what you’re doing acceptable? Does it align with your own moral compass? What weighs in for you, and what doesn’t?

Like anyone else, you are your own person. Above all, this is what counts.

No kidding; Alexandra Harris’ writing and meticulous eye to details makes for a brilliant book.

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