Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Acceptance and Approval

All my life I've wanted to be "special".

(No, not that way.)

I remember going through flip book after flip book with the special education teacher back in the first grade. And I tried so hard to get them all right. I wanting nothing more than to be set apart. I wanted her to choose me as one of the kids who left the regular classroom for a while, to go to this mysterious place where more magical flip books I could conquer. I wanted to be part of that group. I never was. Of course, now I realize what it all meant and I'm glad I wasn't part of that group.

During Kindergarten nap time I would lie frozen, desperate to be chosen by the teacher to get to wake everyone up. We got to use a wand (it was sparkly with a star on top) and as you were nudged with the wand, it was your permission to wake up and the signal that nap time was over.

My mom first put me in front the church to sing at the age of four, if memory serves. I might have been five. After that, the music committee at church continued to ask and I continued to say "Yes, I'll do special music next Sunday." I loved picking out songs, practicing until my brothers would be so sick of me, and I loved getting those little notes on encouragement from church members about how good I sounded. It made me feel good.

In high school, being different was usually considered a detriment. I didn't care. I did what I wanted to do, but I still longed for acceptance. I just wanted everyone to accept me on my terms. They didn't. It probably bothered me more that I was willing to admit. But as an adult, I could care less about how things were back then.

And as an adult, I'm realizing I still want to be singled out as "special". A while back I was called into a staff meeting. As I walked in, I was greeted to a standing ovation. (I hadn't received on of those since I was The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas at the local community theatre.) It certainly was weird to receive one in a conference room. However, I was proud of the catalog I finished that week and they liked it too, apparently. So it was nice to be recognized for that.

Do we ever grow out of our need for acceptance?

Dear God, I hope we do.

3 comments:

Scott said...

If wanting acceptance and approval is abnormal, then there's a whole heckuva lot of us out here who are abnormal/disfunctional.

Why do you think I loved acting so much?

Glad you got a "standing o"...I honestly don't think we do that kind of stuff for each other enough.

Kansas Bob said...

I wonder if our need for acceptance is really just a need to be loved ... a need to be cared about ... mabe it is just taken to a little extreme.

stephanie said...

I'm not sure if it's so much about thinking the desire for acceptance is abnormal, but me worrying that my "not being good enough" mentality is unhealthy.

I want to grow out of this obnoxious need I have to be "good enough" for everyone. It's ridiculous for me to expect that of myself, because I'm not even able to accept myself for who I am. And those feelings are only reinforced when the rest of the world doesn't to give me acceptance. And that's not healthy to me. I put too much importance on it.

And I'm just now realizing, as I type this, that in my heart I know God is trying really hard to use these feelings of rejection to remind me that who I am in him so more important than who I am to others.