My biggest fear: Who I am now is who I'll be forever (long, boring, nonsensical, long

I’m glad that this forum is now free, as I’d hate to have you guys pay to read my drivel (even though I’ve posted similar threads before, but I digress).

In short, I feel like I’ve hit a brick wall in my life, at 23. I’m working a decent-paying, but dead-end job that I’m completely bored of. My social skills suck, and my social life is comparatively sucky. I feel completely inadequate when it comes to many topics of conversation or anything requiring skill-sets outside my very limited talents.

Essentially, my biggest fear is that who I am now is who I’ll be forever, regardless of how much effort I may (or may not) put into change.

I guess at the crux of all this is my lacking social skills. I don’t get it; it looks so easy for others, but I have trouble striking up simple conversations, or hell, even maintaining one. Granted, there is the rare occasion where the planets align and the moon is full when I’ll actually be able to engage someone in a decent conversation, and (god willing) come across as gasp competent (well, within reason), but these events are way too seldom to be of note. And I know people say “practice will make you better,” but it’s not like I don’t talk to people at work…why haven’t I gotten better at that? And this is why I fear I may just be fundamentally broken.

Even worse, when I do make the effort to go outside my comfort zone (such as going to a party that I would normally skip…which I also don’t get invited to very often anyway), I’m usually reminded why I avoid said situations in the first place (I suck at conversing, and generally fear talking to people I don’t know). But, wait, it gets better! Although I say that I “want to get better socially,” I wonder if that’s really the case…I mean, my social batteries seem to run dry quickly and as such, I’ll sometimes even avoid meeting with the few local friends I do have. I mean, why should I go see them when I can sit on my ass and write long messages about why my life is so depressing…yeah, so hopefully you see my problem.

I’ve wanted to post this thread for a while, but I kept putting it off as I do most things in my life (lack of motivation is another problem I often have to deal with…or not, as it were). But for whatever reason, the stories I’ve heard from my roommates and coworkers got to me. Every time I hear about the parties they go to or who they hooked up with, serves as a reminder of the failure that is my life. Yeah, I’m making decent bucks…big fucking deal. When I can barely talk to girls, let alone date them, the amount of money I have seems rather inconsequential. Though perhaps ironically, I’m guessing I’ll need said money in order to (hopefully?) enhance the aspects of my life that desperately need enhancing (unless I’m mistaken, which would be sweet).

Which leads me to my job. I dropped out of community college (after about 2 years) for what was then my dream job. Well, the dream didn’t last long. It pays well, but I’m bored out of my mind doing what it is I do. I’ve since applied for a similar job elsewhere (which I’ve posted about), though I only did so to hopefully make even more money in the interim (interim between what, I have no idea). Though I know that if I do switch companies, it would only be bandaid on the gushing wound that is my life. I already know that what I’m doing now is not what I want to do forever. So what do I want to do? I have no idea, though I’m seriously considering going back to school to take film courses, but I don’t even know where to start when looking into that, and I’m not sure I can even motivate myself enough to find out…ugh.

I feel like I’m wasting my life. It can’t be healthy to pretty much stay at home all day, except when I work. I’m afraid that my complete lack of a social life will linger with me forever, and that’s not a life that I want to live (don’t worry, that’s not a hidden suicide message or anything). And to be completely honest, I am growing increasingly upset (maybe not the word I’m looking for, but it’s the first that came to mind) at my inability to get a girlfriend. The one thing most guys strive for, I’m completely incapable of doing…23 years and counting. Granted, I also don’t really go anywhere where I could meet girls, which is undoubtably a large part of the problem.

So what am I looking for by posting this? I have no clue. I honestly don’t, but I had to put my thoughts somewhere, as I don’t really have anyone else to confide to. I’m sorry if I wasted your time, much like I’ve wasted much of mine…

In my opinion, be who you are and try and enjoy that. You don’t HAVE to be a social being. You don’t HAVE to do anything…just do what you feel is right for you, and go with it. I’m not exactly a social butterfly, but I do well when I’m around like-minded people, which is who I tend to hang out with. In college, I never went bar hopping because I frankly didn’t want to socialize like that. I’d be forced into inane conversations about crap I didn’t care about, so I usually hung out with my 2 or 3 close friends and that was great.

If you want to change careers, do so. Yes, it will take the hard work needed to see the change through, but if you can persevere you’ll be that much happier.

I’ve seen stats that the average person changes careers 7 times throughout their life. Things get old for all of us. Don’t worry about what other people think you should be doing, or how you should be acting. As long as you aren’t hurting other people, do what’s right for you.

As for girls…the best place to meet girls that are good for you is to try and find social groups that involve activities that you really like…you’ll at least have something in common. If that’s too much, internet dating is actually a fairly good way to meet people who are similar in personality and behavior. One of my good friends met his girl that way, and they’re getting married in the spring now. Nothing wrong with that route. Yes, there will be nerves. EVERYONE has nerves on the dating scene, regardless of how smooth some people look from the outside.

I know someone who is quite possibly the most socially inept person I’ve ever met. Really nice guy, but is VERY uncomfortable around anyone. Even people he really knows well. There’s nothing wrong with that. It took him longer than the ‘average person’, but he got married 4 years ago and now has a son.

That’s fair enough, and definitely good advice. But I don’t think it’s going to work for me. I mean, I’ve tried to enjoy who I am (a socially befuddled dumbass), and it’s not quite working out too well, hence why I don’t meet girls, for instance.

I do appreciate the reply though!

Added some stuff in my original post.

Thanks, just read it. You know, I’ve tried online dating, too. I’ve probably contacted a dozen girls over the last year or so (I took a long break in the middle), and most never went anywhere. Though I did go out with one…and that didn’t go too well (at least partially because of my aforemetioned lack of social skills, I’m sure). Maybe I should keep at it, but it’s hard to find the energy…

I’ve heard really good things about Toastmasters, and reading your post made me think of that organization. I don’t belong, but have considered joining. Hmmm…the link isn’t working at the moment, but I’m sure it’s a temporary problem.

Anyway, I was extremelly quiet and shy when I was younger, so I know how painful it can be. I’ve never been one to have a zillion friends–I tend to form very close friendships with a small number of people, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But from your post, you sound too isolated and wanting change, so it’s just a matter of figuring out how to create that change.

Toastmasters can help, I think. I also think one of the things that helped me figure people out was talking to people I trusted and who were stronger than me socially. I’d run things that puzzled me past them to ask how they would interpret the situation, and how they would have handled it. Getting involved in clubs, taking community education courses, etc., can also really help. If you’re doing an activity you enjoy with other people who also enjoy it, then it gives you something to talk about.

The thing about change is that it can seem really daunting to look at where you are and thinking there is some kind of way to leap directly to where you want to go. That can make the change look complicated and difficult, and the complexities you see become a barrier to pursuing change. So maybe break it down into one thing that seems most possible to do first, even if it’s only a small step in the right direction. You don’t have to have your entire life figured out now. Just find one step you could take to make things better, and then work on taking that one step to see where it leads. Hopefully that step succeeds–but be prepared to be a bit persistent about it. Even if it doesn’t work out the way you plan, though, you will learn something from it, and that knowledge will inform the next step you try to take.

Anyway, I hope this helps. The good part about being twenty-three and feeling like you’re stuck is that you are young and have plenty of time to work on figuring it out. So don’t worry about having all of this solved tomorrow. Just start thinking about what little piece seems manageable today.

Life is just really weird . . . you never know what’s going to happen next. I’m 41 and am quite different from my 23-year-old self. I’ve fallen ass-backward into activities and interests that I never would have pegged myself for. I’m outgoing and pleasant in the mornings, whereas I used to be quite the misanthrope and sullen before 10 am.

When I was about 20, I felt like I was looking down the same barrel as you. Just about finished with college, had been on a few dates but had never had a boyfriend, feeling like nobody “got” me, even my friends. Total square peg.

One day I read in the paper that a girl I’d gone to high school with had killed herself by sitting in her car, dousing the interior with gasoline, and lighting a match. I was totally shocked. I hadn’t known her well; she was one of the “popular” girls, but perhaps on the edges of the clique, and she had always been nice to me, unlike some of her friends. I wondered what could have been happened with her that she would choose to die like that.

The next day I started a new job and met the man I’ve been married to for 18+ years. Guess what? He was a square peg too. Had had a series of bad jobs, a few girlfriends but none that really worked out, lots of time in Dumpsville. All those girls threw away a perfectly nice guy. All right for me though. Unfortunately he had to wait 32 years for me to show up. If only I could have been around about 10 years earlier (and of legal age).

I might also add that the new job was one in my major; I’d been working the usual dippy college jobs and getting bored, so I decided to see if I couldn’t get some on-the-job experience while I finished school. One of my instructors told me about this job opening, and voila, my decision had paid off. (The job turned out to suck, and Future Hubby and I were both gone within six months, but by then already firmly enamored of each other. So there nyahhh. :slight_smile: )

So yeah, I always think about how that girl’s life ended the day before mine truly began.

I think you’re putting too much pressure on yourself to be “social.” That just leads down the path of not being yourself. What are your interests? What lights your fire? Is there anything you love to talk about? You mention film school, and I think that would be an excellent place to start. When you’re doing something you enjoy, you’re in a much better position to meet people (girls and guys) with whom you have something in common. That would make conversation and getting to know people a lot easier.

Or maybe there’s something you’d LIKE to get involved in. Wine tasting, playing an instrument, book club . . . sometimes you have to take a leap of faith and just try it. (I like Ray Bradbury’s quote about jumping off cliffs and building your wings on the way down.)

Maybe shake up your life in some small way to help put yourself in a mindset of positive change. New haircut, different clothes, get your ear pierced, I don’t know. When I went off to college after being socially awkward for 17 years, I had a BIG chance for a do-over, and I took it. Nobody knew I was a social outcast in high school! The summer after my freshman year, I traded my shoulder-length hair for a near-buzzcut and my glasses for contacts, and started wearing makeup, crazier colors, and bigger earrings. (It helped that this was the 80s . . .) I’d always been rather mousy before. That fall, several people didn’t recognize me at first. It was a big step toward changing who I was for the better. I think the main impact was realizing that I was in charge of my life, and I felt really empowered instead of just being swept along. I also swung farther toward not taking shit from people, though I’m afraid I went a little too abrasive for a few years . . . but I’m back on reasonable ground again, I think. Took a while to find a happy medium.

Also, remember that an easy way to start a conversation is to ask people about themselves. Most people love to talk about themselves, and if you give them a chance to do so, they’ll think you’re the best conversationalist EVAR. It’s far more important to be interested than interesting. (And you’re probably more interesting than you think you are.)

Really, most people are not as scary as you may think they are, and they’re not out to “get you” or judge you. Take the social “embarrassment” of forgetting someone’s name. Everyone does it, but no one will admit to it. Hey, you know what? Just admit it. It’s REALLY not a big deal. “Hi, good to see you! I’m so sorry, I remember [something about the person, what you talked about last, etc.] but I’m terrible with names and I’ve forgotten yours. Remind me again?” If you’ve ever seen someone do this, did you think they were a twit? Probably not. Do you expect every person you’ve ever met to remember your name forever and ever? Of course not. So just get the name refresher out of the way and move on. Sheesh.

Because of getting picked on by the pretty, popular girls throughout junior high and high school, I got really cynical about people. Anybody who wasn’t an obvious dork like me was probably out to get me, right? Well, a few weeks after I started college, I got an on-campus job. One of my fellow new hires was a very pretty girl, and of course I assumed that she and I were of different species. We ended up becoming very good friends and co-crewleaders of that work team, and she came to my wedding six years later. I’m kind of sad to think of how many potential friendships I may have lost in high school because of being conditioned to believe that most people are scum.

Have faith, my friend . . . your day may be just around the corner. Mr. S and I continually shake our heads at where we are today. Happily married for 18 years, and planning to remain so for the foreseeable future, with a wide circle of friends, when we both once considered ourselves society’s lepers? Shyeah right.

Life really is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.

Good luck, dude.

I think Scarlett pretty much nailed it.

You are me except in male form and several years younger. And I have the same exact fear about myself. It has led me to a depressive state that I cannot seem to shake out of. Not even therapy has helped.

But I’m trying to change my life. Even though I feel hopeless, I haven’t given up. Tomorrow I’m going to a class to learn how to play bridge. The hypothesis being that I need a social outlet that is structured enough so that I don’t have to think about socializing–that I can just focus on the game and everything else will come naturally. I expect that I will be the youngest person in the room, that everyone will already know each other, and there will be that sense of alienation that I always feel. But it’s something new and maybe I’ll like it.

Do you have problems expressing emotions? Do you ever feel like you can’t be yourself when you’re with other people because your real self seems too robotic or alien? When other people express emotions, do you tend to question their sincerity? Does everyone seem “fake” to you? I’m not going to give you the name of the disorder that fits these critieria, but if you’ve answered “yes” to any of the above, you should think about seeing a counselor. Regardless, that’s probably what you should do anyway. Can’t say that going to a counselor will make everything better (it hasn’t for me), but at least you’ll have someone to talk to.

I hope the two of us, but you in particular, can figure something out. Twenty-three is too young to feel so hopeless.

I can relate to this. I sometimes look around at other folks’ lives and think “Maybe I ought to be more like them, as they seem happy and are having a very full and enjoyable time of it.”

But then I know when I have tried to do a lot of these kinds of things - travelling, new hobbies, social events, conversations with new people, attempts to make friends (and beyond) - I spend all my time wishing I wasn’t doing them, and that I was back in my safe comfort zone where I’m in control again.

Clearly I don’t want to live a different life. I have fallen into this way of living because it’s what I like, and where I feel comfortable. Yes, it would be good to be more like what society expects of the average human being, only so as to not stand out so much sometimes, but the truth is I am who I am, and I do what I like, and this is where I find myself, so it’s where I’m supposed to be.

In some ways, I probably have a happier time of it than a lot of people do, so I should savour that.

You remind me of me when I was your age, and to some extent, now.

First, I think most people spend a lot of their lives working, sleeping, and pooping. I don’t think you need to feel totally inadequate about some of the concerns you mention. I often compare my life to my father’s: by the time he was 45, he had ten kids, had fought WWII, survived the Great Depression. He didn’t have time to wonder if he was fulfilled etc. I’m a total wuss by those standards, but that’s just the hand I was dealt.

I stumbled across an article in some architectural digest saying that the front porch has disappeared…people don’t sit out front and talk to neighbors like they used to. No, they build decks out back because they’re afraid of who might knock on their front door, which they’re very reluctant to answer.

There was an excellent program on PBS about how suburbs alienate people. IIRC it was called “Subdivided: [Something or other] in America.” It said we live in giant triangles…live here, work there, shop in a third location. The good ol’ American neighborhood (and the connectedness it brought) is gone.

So you need to realize that there are bigger forces out there and not blame it totally on some shortcomings you think you have. But yeah, it’s easy to fall into a comfort zone and not challenge the status quo.

Second, 23 isn’t old at all. Hell, your skeleton finishes growing around that age. Just because people at your age do XYZ doesn’t mean you have to do the same. I’ll tell you that I’ve seen some people who seemed happy but actually were not, and they were the last to know.

I think you have to be true to yourself, but I also think there’s room for change if, upon reflection, there are changes that you think are worth making. As Prince sang, “If de-elevator tries to break you down, go crazy…punch a higher floor!”

Take some chances; make some mistakes. Learn from the process. I suspect too many people live in their minds and shoot down possibilities without really trying them. If you try and it isn’t a fit, move on. But step outside your comfort zone, try some new things, and see what happens. And give yourself props for trying, each time.

If you wanna be somebody else
If you’re tired of fighting battles with yourself
If you wanna be somebody else
Change your mind

Sister Hazel

I’m also posting to recommend Toastmasters. Don’t let this temporary problem with their website prevent you from checking it out.

It will help in 2 ways. First, the meetings count as social events that get you interacting with people, usually once a week. Second, you get practice in public speaking and other communication skills, which can only help with what you’ve identified as your problems. Really, these are skills that can be learned through practice. They are also skills that will be really key to a career in film. The clubs are free to visit and affordable to join.

After I read the OP I had to scroll back to the top to make sure it really wasn’t me who wrote it.

Ok…23. Jesus! Imagine being 40 and feeling this way. Welcome to my world.

Life will take you places you never imagined, if you let it. At 23 I was bored, depressed, working a crappy job and in a social rut. Now I’m 27 and settling into my new apartment in China. I speak 4 languages and have years of crazy adventures- from the slow boat to Timbuktu to a night spent in a Honduran jail- under my belt. It’s my personal childhood dream come true- I’m I’m still young enough that anything can happen next. Never thought it would have happened, but I took a few risks, put myself out there, and it happened. I have a saying “Dreams do come true, but only the really weird ones.”

It’s true that you will always be fundamentally who you are. I’ve started over from scratch again and again, and even when I try to be someone different, people still end up saying the same things about me. In a way, it’s grown to be comforting. I don’t need to try too hard, because everyone will figure out the real me in the end. The circumstances have changed wildly, and I just get through by being the same old me. It’s good to have some things that are rock-solid in your identity. These are things that you can count on no matter what. Own who you are.

I think there is something to be said about going to social occasions even when you don’t feel like it. Life doesn’t have to be about being perfectly comfortable and engaged every second. Sometimes life is awkward and uncomfortable. Learning to own that has been a great help to me.

Something good MIGHT happen when you are out and about. And it will definitely never happen when you are at home on the Internet. So fuck being comfortable and do what it takes to open the doors of possibility, even if it’s a slow wait and not much fun. Anyway, if you have enough imagination you can come to enjoy even sitting in the corner sipping your drink. And if it doesn’t work out- well, you’ll wake up the next morning exactly the same as you would have if you had stayed home. Your comfort zone is not a god-given right, it’s a luxury that comes with a price. It’s useful to learn what that price is, how to ration it, and how to truly enjoy it when you get it.

As for feeling that pang when your buddies hook up with people, well, that is familiar to me- but remember, they did the work for it. You can’t beat yourself up because you didn’t get something you didn’t try for. If you want it bad enough you’ll go out there and make it happen. But you didn’t choose that and you didn’t end up with it. It’s not because you are a lame person, it’s because you made choices and the logical results occurred.

Want different results? Try different actions, even if they aren’t particularly enjoyable all the time. Don’t think it’s worth it? Then continue on as is and remember that it is you who made that choice and tell yourself it’s not logical to feel bad about it.

A final phrase that gets me through the day- The best way to live the life you want to live is to live it. Right now. Not tomorrow. The choice is yours.

I went for a walk and came up with some more rantings…

Time is like money. Some people spend all of theirs on things that provide quick, immediate but transient happiness. Others invest theirs and hopefully reap bigger rewards. There is risk, of course, but risk is what it takes to get the big rewards.

Another thing- get off the Internet. I just got Internet for the first time in two years, and it’s already sucking my life away. If I lived in America I’d turn off my broadband and only use wi-fi hot spots, forcing me to get out and about. That doesn’t work here, but I gotta come up with a rationing plan. Endlessly surfing the Internet never made anyone’s life better. Remember you are going to die one day and look back at your life. Do stuff that would make you proud!

If you’re actually unhappy with who you are, then change.

If you are happy, then don’t change.

The end.

Thanks dudes and dudettes for the great advice thus far. I definitely want to attend more events than I do now (ie none); I’ll check into Toastmasters as someone suggested earlier, and I’m definitely heavily considering going back to school which should hopefully kill two birds with one stone (changing my job, and getting better socially).

Perhaps ironically, I was invited to go to a night club with a few friends last night (the same day I posted this OP) and I decided to go along for the ride – might as start now, right? I ended up having a great time, even if my limit experience hindered my dancing (as my recent post in IMHO alludes to).

Now although it was fun, my ability to socialize is still far from where I want it to be, but I suspect this’ll be a long battle…hopefully one that I can win.

When you’re really high, that part in Red Barchetta where there’s the sound of screeching tires right as the guitar solo starts, is really badass. I just wanted to say that.

You should live your whole life as if that part is playing in the background.

These types of posts crop up periodically, and my response is usually pretty much the same. You’re young. You’re barely into the game. You are going to do things, meet people, work, read, watch, and try a multitude of things throughout your life. All of these experiences play a part in who you are. It is rare that a person goes unaffected by the world around him. You’ll try on different ideas, different people, and different interests. The person you are at 23 is not the person you are at 33, 43, 53, 63, or 73. It’s a journey and you’ll pick up and discard things along the way. Relax, enjoy the ride, and experience as much as you can.