Do you seek validation at work?

Andrea Huls
3 min readOct 24, 2023

Look inward. That’s where you will find your worth.

white, blue-eyed and blond woman dressed in a white shirt and blue blazar receives feedback from two other women whose backs are toward the camera
Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

Many of us seek validation at work. Most of us want to feel seen. We want to know we are valid and that our contributions are worthy. We want to feel worthy. At least, I know I do.

Even if we acknowledge our jobs do not define our worth, striving for recognition is normal.

Have you wondered why you seek validation?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently. Why do I want approval from my bosses and peers?

Perhaps, in my case, it stems from my childhood.

I only felt seen at home when I got good grades, behaved well, and followed the rules. My worth was linked to how I performed and how I acted. How I got validation was by doing things perfectly.

My father had high standards and wanted me to be the best. From violin to dance to basketball, he expected excellence. The pressure to stand out made me competitive.

On the one hand, I learned about discipline and responsibility. On the other, I began comparing myself to others obsessively. My insecurities grew and grew, and so did my jealousy of others.

Furthermore, I was heavily punished for my mistakes, regardless of how big or small they were. Today, I struggle to ask for help and feel shame when I make a mistake.

I’m as worthy as what I do, not as I am

My father unknowingly taught me that I only matter if I do something worthy.

For most of my life, I have tried to make him proud. Putting aside any dreams or wants of my own.

Since graduating from high school, I have been working to become an accomplished and “successful” person. Which begs the question, what does success even mean?

I’ve pursued paths I believed would make me worthy, only to feel more empty.

Seeking that external validation has never helped me grow professionally. Not only because it has not been given the way I hoped for but because my worth truly has nothing to do with my work performance. The people who evaluate my work are doing just that.

How our childhood wounds…

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Andrea Huls

Writer, documentary filmmaker, photographer, feminist, mother, and much more.