Validation 21


Sometimes I think I need to retire from the modern world, because it makes me incredibly sad. Maybe I should go live on a mountain, or deep in the forest, away from the news, computers, and the hustle and bustle of daily life. Searching for some occupation, I could take up whittling. I bet after a week or so, I could whittle some pretty sweet spoons. I could spend hours and hours whittling all kinds of different spoons – big spoons, little spoons, simple spoons, intricate spoons. Maybe one day I would get fancy and make a slotted spoon. Thousands of spoons all whittled to perfection in my little shed.

Then one day, a lone wanderer would come by and see me whittling away. Maybe they would ask me a question, and I would tell them all about my spoon collection, and show them a few samples. They would wander off again happily. Then maybe the next day having heard from the first traveller about Spoony McSpoonerson out in the woods, more people would arrive. Spoon connoisseurs. And they would marvel at my spoons. And then one would comment “Oh, this spoon is just dreadful! It ruins the whole collection! Come on, darling, let’s go to the other forest where Fizzy Spoonsdottir is doing much more salient work!”. And off the crowds would go, leaving me in desperate self-doubt about how good my own whittling techniques ever were in the first place.

Fuck. I’m back to where I began: Forced to measure my own self-worth against someone else, except this time it’s an icelandic wooden-cutlery merchant one forest over.

As it is with spoons, it is with content.

Due to the gamification of literally everything, any content posted onto the internet is immediately measured up against anything else posted at that moment, and this, frankly, is awful. I am someone with such low self-esteem that it’s plumbing the depths of the underworld (Hades himself once commented on it, saying “Well this is a bit too much, isn’t it, Persephone?”). Putting any pictures up on Reddit, or Instagram, or Facebook is a stressful situation, because the inevitable will happen: I will refresh constantly over the next few hours to see if anyone thinks I look good. And a few will, but it’s never anywhere near some of the prettier girls out there.

Thus, I am measured. And I hate it.

So I’ll start to wonder why. And then I’ll start to be sad. And then I’ll start to be angry about it. And then I’ll be sad some more. And then I’ll disable all alerts from reddit/instagram/facebook so that I’m not caught up in the hours-long parade of trickling upvotes/hearts/likes. But I’ll still look. and refresh. And become sad again.

I’m sure I’m not the only one. Large swathes of the population have tied their self-worth, as I certainly have, to the magnitude of imaginary internet points awarded to them by a fickle audience. I don’t know if it’s killing you, but it’s certainly killing me. It’s desperately unhealthy.

The thing is, I really like my pictures. I think I have a high bar for posting quality content. I’m proud of what I’ve been able to do with my look, and my photography attempts, and so why I’m assigning so much weight to what strangers think of me, I don’t know.

Actually, I do. I want to be validated. I’m insecure and I want people to tell me that I’m pretty and that I’m worth it, and that’s a horrible way to live. Without this implicit stack-ranking of every picture out there, I might be a much happier person.

Instagram recognises this, and is in the process of experimenting with the removal of likes in order to foster “creating a less pressurized environment where people feel comfortable expressing themselves.”. I would like to be included in this experiment, please.

What I haven’t figured out yet is how to not yearn for people to tell me I’m pretty or worth it. I haven’t figured out how to be entirely happy without input from someone else. If you have figured it out, let me know :D

I really have no advice here, other than

  1. Get off social media, it’s awful
  2. Don’t let your own value be determined by what other people think.

oh and

  1. Please, please tell me I’m pretty.

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21 thoughts on “Validation

  • Beth

    1. I have minimal social footprint. I don’t care what you had for breakfast and I won’t tell you what I had.
    2. Be happy with yourself. If other people like you, fine, but know that some people won’t. That’s ok. Don’t hang out with them. Hang out with the ones that do.
    3. You’re pretty. Very nice outfit.
    I hope you do this blog because you like doing it and sharing your pictures and your stories. The photo shoots are well done with thoughtful outfits showing a certain style, grace and general good fun. It’s been fun following your writings and photo shoots over the last year since I found your site. You have a different, slightly irreverent writing style that is fun to read. So, please be happy that you’ve had a positive impact on at least one other cross-dresser. Don’t worry about the others. Go look in the mirror and know that you are pretty and call it good. I hope you can feel good about what you do and keep on doing it, just because.

    • Liz Summers Post author

      <3 I don't think I'll ever stop writing this blog, or taking pictures, because I'm pretty sure that I have a need to do both! But hopefully it comes with the side-effect that people find it useful and interesting.

      Thank you! <3

  • Sarah Rose

    Truely inspiring, and you actually may be saving me here.

    I’ve been wanting to setup social media specifically for that reason and we’ll… There really isn’t a good point in doing so. As you’ve mentioned this could drive you mad.

    I’m recently emailed you and have not come out to Everyone yet.

    I do however happen to run a decent sized YouTube channel with 15k subs for content not related to my dressing and……. My Lord is it stressful!

    Every video release day I’ll refresh all day, hoping that people enjoy what I’m doing because it takes a lot to do.

    I already look at photos of myself and I’ve been craving to show people. Alas I think id find myself in a similar situation. (Love your article on vanity btw)

    Sincerely,

    Sarah

    P.S.

    Your way with words as a writer are honestly nothing short of astounding! Awesome work as always!

    • Liz Summers Post author

      Thank you!
      Yeah, social media is a horrible minefield. Even in my non-liz accounts, keeping notifications off and trying not to implicitly play the game of getting as many likes as possible is the only way to try and stay sane, and I am definitely failing on that front!

  • Lynn Jones

    Hmmm. Social media? Yeah, I deleted my accounts for the reasons you mention. Even if I was happy with the memory of the photo, the look I’d managed, or something else, putting into that system where a score was given….. Well, it felt a bit like someone grading everything you did and it became a BS measure. Key performance indicators, my arse ;-)

    For a time I was part of it, but not any more. Instead it’s slow news of conversations in the real world, emails to friends, comments on a blog, etc. None of these are point scoring: they’re connections and brief conversation.

    I wonder if social media was a thing we had to go though, to explore, and learn that as it stands, those clickbait emojis are just dopamine hits to make us want to come back, so data can sucked up, profiles built, and ads served.

    Maybe it’s time to walk away, ignore the lures, and engage with people via routes and tech that’s not trying to exploit you.

    PS: you look lovely in that dress. ;-)

    • Liz Summers Post author

      oh yeah, it’s all dopamine hits. I’ve become annoyingly cognizant of it, too. “Why am I doing this thing? Oh yeah, dopamine.”
      I’m trying to break some of those habits, but dopamine’s pretty awesome, even if the way you’re getting it is entirely shallow :S

      <3 <3 Thank you for saying so! <3 (Dopamine hit, right there :D)

  • Gothic Emily

    Don’t forget the runcible spoon. And the absinthe spoon.

    Also, you’re pretty.

    I got off of FacePlant about a year ago. I don’t miss it.

    • Liz Summers Post author

      ^_^
      Yeah, I’ve made conscious decisions to limit my facebook exposure, and my life is definitely better because of it. Not completely out of the game, but I’ll take a 95% reduction!

  • Joey

    You are pretty.
    You are brave.
    You have done things that many of us may never do!
    You make us proud and and you make us jealous.
    You have some BEAUTIFUL clothes!
    You are a unicorn!!! :)

  • Giselle

    yes you’re pretty! And i think you kind of ran with the same crossdressing circle i used to run with! If you’re still in SF, we should meet up! I’m still in Oakland/Emeryville! Hit me up! I’d love to have you on the podcast =D

    _Giselle

    • Liz Summers Post author

      Hi! YOU’RE IN THE BAY AREA?! I honestly had no idea! I’m still here :D I rarely if ever actually meet up with anyone, so I’m not sure if I count as running with any circle :D How weird though, I actually just found your podcast on Thursday morning and listened to a few episodes on a flight! Would love to be on your podcast sometime!!

      <3 <3

  • Stephanie Locks

    The problem with validation is that nobody uses the same measuring stick. One mans / womens / Gender unspecific / other’s idea of Excellent / Good / Bad / Bloody awful is not quite the same as anybody else’s.

    Whether you are “Pretty” or not does not matter to anybody other than you.

    You are – but you knew that anyway. Have a lovely afternoon / evening.

    PS. If you carve a Welsh Love spoon please post a piccie.

    • Liz Summers Post author

      Agreed! I still need to find a way to be happy with myself and not constantly measure myself against other people. The problem with all social media is that it invites you to compare the highlight reel of everyone else to your own B-roll, which will always be a losing battle.

      I have decided to make the making of a Welsh Love spoon my own personal quest :D

  • Natassia Crystal

    Okay.. so let me start by saying you’re pretty!! :)

    Right, let me then say that I love validation.. I would be lying if I pretended to just post for the heck of it. I know some people actually do approach their online presence like that.. they post and then never look at the likes, the comments and they also rarely (or never) interact with those who post comments.

    Not me, I like both the attention and the interaction.. but 5 to 10 years ago, I would also be refreshing all the time to see how many likes or upvotes a post would get. I think I just grew out of it because it cost so much time to continuously check everything.

    Also, I don’t let the actual online interaction determine my self-worth and confidence. And I think that this became easier the more I actually went out into the real world. Giving lectures, attending dance lessons and giving dance performances as Natassia made me realise that the online stuff is nice.. but no substitute for what I could be doing by going out that front door.

    Having said all this.. the actual platform also is important in determining how much importance I give it. I know that Flickr , YouTube and Instagram work the best for me. Both in terms of what I want to post.. and the feedback that I get. Reddit is not really the platform for me even though I do post over there. So I actually don’t care if a post only gets a few upvotes. And Facebook is purely for keeping in touch with my Dutch and EU friends.

    Instagram hiding the likes is good step.. but I do find myself occasionally wondering how many likes a post (not mine) has received in relation to the number of followers of that account. I do hope it has the intended effect on the mental well-being of the users.

    Anyway, enough rambling from me.. hope you have a great weekend (and that you will wear the corresponding shoes).

    Oh, and you look pretty! :)

    • Liz Summers Post author

      ^_^

      I love it too :D but yeah, maybe I’m looking for it in the wrong places. I suspect that I’d be a lot happier if I didn’t want it :S Definitely agreed that getting out and about is much, much better though!

  • Lisa K.

    You’re pretty. Love the dress and the nice painted toes poking thru. Love your pictures too. Thanks for posting.

  • Craco Monti

    You should be careful. This craving for social aceptance could be dangerous. And you have self esteem problemas, so you are playing with fire (believe me, i`m one like you) I’ve saw your pics for years and believe me, you have the femininity im missing more and more in women everyday. You know we are talking about superficial issues. You like pretty dresses, your face is cute and i love beautiful girls like you on high heels. So you have to look for PEACE of MIND and not for social aceptance, less in the shape of electronic clicks that mean aprovation. I’m in Chile, more than ten thousands kilometers from you and i love your beauty and feminine style. But believes me, you have to toake it seriously, dont crave for mass aprovattion that is just a mirage (my native is spanish, so sorry for the spelling)