If my parents listened to others, I wouldn’t be here today. Forty-four years ago, my white mother married my black father. It was not favored by everyone, including my maternal grandfather (note he got over himself when he realized my dad was an awesome human being). Today, biracial marriages are common. According to Gallup, 87% of people in the U.S. approved of white-black marriages. Now let’s compare this percentage to 1984, the year I was born. It was only 44% (Gallup). This halved number contributes to where my personal validation story starts. A time when there were fewer marriages like my parents and less children who looked like me.
I grew up in a small predominately white town, most of my closest friends were white. The boys I had crushes on were white. My sports and activity teammates were white. In my early years I was surrounded by a majority of people who did not look like me. I thought my friends had prettier straight silky hair, beautiful knees that never got ashy, and that people generally liked them more than me. I remember in 1st grade at recess, two of my closest friends would always go to the top of the slide together, wait for me to get close to the top to join them, then hurry down and run away laughing, leaving me alone at the top. It would make me sad, but I would press on because that’s what most six-year old’s do. This is just one example of the many social interactions that attached itself to the validation deficit bucket I carried around with me as a child. There were not very many people or places (other than family) that reflected back to me what I needed to believe about myself. That I am a good friend and my skin color doesn’t make me lesser.
As a child this deficit developed into a mentally to strive for perfection. “If I am perfect, they will like me, I will be enough.” Also, my self-identity was created through my past experiences, molding my traits and sense of self, socially constructing me, Elizabeth. As I grew older, made new friends, experienced new things, and received the validation I needed, the reach for perfection waned, and I learn to love myself more. Still to this day, I sometimes struggle with poor self-talk that comes with the nuances of being biracial and the learned false view of what true friends are.