One of the things I enjoy about the internet is that it has become a wonderful outlet for creative expression; that it provides us with the opportunity to enjoy the works of talented individuals we might not otherwise know of. A good example of this is the award-winning film short “Validation”. The story focuses on a man whose job is to validate parking stubs, but who we learn very early on in the film also offers the shopping mall patrons a sense of validation for who they are. The film is not only inspiring thanks to its feel-good nature, but it’s also very effective in reminding us of how powerful the simple act of showing an appreciation and understanding of others can impact those around us.
Of course, how much validation a person can feel upon hearing words of appreciation or praise is very much dependent on the person’s own sense of self-worth, something the writers of this film are acutely aware of. In this film, the reason why the lead character has such an impact on those around him is not just because he’s telling them something no one’s ever told them; rather, it’s because he’s telling them something they know intuitively about themselves, which those around them have not bothered to acknowledge or appreciate as their contribution. Offering random compliments is not what any of us need to feel validated; rather, it’s being recognized by our peers, our friends and family for the unique and intrinsic value we bring to those relationships, as well as the feelings and emotions that come with those interactions.
It’s sad to think how much we’ve been ingrained with this notion that we shouldn’t praise others too much, as this could lead to either swelled heads or a drop in their productivity as they might feel like they no longer have to prove their worth to us. And yet, as this film demonstrates with such genuine clarity, offering such words of appreciation, of validating what people feel internally about themselves doesn’t lead to some rise in self-importance. On the contrary, it only serves to demonstrate that the things that are uniquely theirs, the things that others should take notice of are in fact being noticed, and most importantly, being appreciated for what it contributes to the greater whole. It shows that we’re willing to put ourselves in their shoes and try to understand why they feel the way they do, instead of summarily judging how the situation makes us feel.
As the film’s lead moves out from behind his counter offering everyone around him that feeling of validation they feel so lacking in their lives, there’s this clear sense of jubilation, of relief even that someone out there understands them, sees them as they see themselves and appreciates who they are. Watching these scenes, you can’t help but be drawn into them because we know this to be true, that to offer validation to those around us is not a bad thing. You cannot help but wish that we’d encounter such an individual in the real world, who simply seeks to offer reassurance to others that they are not so misunderstood or unappreciated.
And that’s probably the greatest message of this story because by the film’s end, we realize that this person exists in all of us, that we all have the power in ourselves to offer validation to those around us; to show others they’re not being overlooked or their feelings being judged or discounted. For us to truly have meaningful and rich relationships with others, we need to remember the importance of making those around us feel validated both for who they are and for how they feel.