What does everybody else know that I don't?

It’s okay to drift for a little bit - there’s no rule that says “thou must date at X age and get a job at Y age…” etc. Another Doper has a great quote in his/her signature : Not all who wander are lost. -JRRT (I love it!) This is so true; sometimes you need to wander a little (can be literally, but can also be figuratively) to “find yourself”. I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up until I was into my late 20’s. Before that? I wandered. I tried lots of things until I found some stuff I liked.

On another note, you said you’re an introvert and you missed out due to your own shyness. From what I’ve heard/read, being shy and introverted aren’t the same thing. Introverted means you get recharged by being alone; you don’t need to socialize to get your energy. This may be quite empowering - you don’t **need ** others to get your energy.

Or I may be way off and full of baloney…

Hogwash, I’m struggling with some of the things that are giving you difficulty, and am determined to do something about it. People tell me I’m always doing interesting things, and one person even said I was an “inspiration” ( :eek: ), but there’s something about social interaction I evidently don’t get. Anyway, I’m filling up my diary with anything and everything that is going to bring me into contact with new people, and trying to just be open to possibilities. I recently read Danny Wallace’s book “Yes Man”, which is about exactly this type of thing. It might be a good read for you. I’m trying to apply the “say yes more” principle to myself, although I wouldn’t take it to the extremes Wallace does!

This is one of those threads where all the advice I would have dispensed on the problem has already been given by other posters. Definitely don’t think everyone else is getting more sex than you and having a great time. There’s a whole industry devoted to making you think everyone’s doing it but you, and it’s all BS. That’s not to say you can’t have a great time, it just takes more work than the advertisers/lad mag editors would have you believe.

The main thing I’d like to say is that if you can get to grips with this problem now that’ll be great - I’m still having difficulty with it in my forties, and the pool of available people who aren’t tied up with family commitments and busy lives is getting smaller. I’m trying to just focus on having an interesting time and not worry too much about finding certain people.

Well, I didn’t mean to ramble on. Just wanted to say you’re not alone, and I wish you good luck.

I’d like to say thanks for everyone’s input and advice - there’s a lot of wisdom in this thread and I’ll try to heed as much as I can. I’m actually feeling pretty good today, like there’s hope is on the horizon.

I know it’s a losing battle trying to compare oneself to those who are (or seem) better off, and it’s true that I need to stop worrying about other people and start worrying about me and what I want from life.

Regarding traveling the world, it’s something I’ve considered, especially since my sister is away in Australia after doing the popular Thailand trail. I can’t count the number of times people have given me the ‘so have you considered seeing the world yourself?’ line. I won’t rule it out, and while I have the cash saved up to fly out tomorrow, I’d rather get a few years on the job ladder beforehand, so I’m not back to square one upon my return.

One thing I neglected to mention in the OP is that it is looking likely that I will be moving to Bath with my friend and his girlfriend. They went to university there and think I will really enjoy it. We’re looking at flats early next week. A change of scenery, some independence, this could be really good for me. I’m going to hit up every employment agency in the area and try to take every opportunity I can. The rent is going to spur me on to get working, at least.

I personally would recommend against this. Once you’re in, it’s really hard to justify to yourself “now I just need to tell my boss that I’ll need to have the next two months off and then when I get back, I’ll be ready to work again!” You get caught up in your work and that long trip always seems to be scheduled for “next year”. That’s not to say that it couldn’t work for you, it’s just that now is the optimal time to do it. I say this as a 29 year old American guy who has been planning to visit Europe for the first time for, oh, three years.