Counseling/Loneliness and Depression
I am a male in my early twenties. Till high school, I had a group of friends and we had been friends since childhood.
But I started drawing away from these people because I had different career and life goals and wasn't in as comfortable a position as they were in, financially. I basically couldn't keep up with their lifestyle, because of money and time.
I stopped all contact with them after we graduated and now I have been in college since 3 years and it sucks.
I haven't even come close to living up the life I once had. I do have people that I can call "friends", but these are all people I meet during class or hang out with like a couple of times a month at most.
It's like once a month or so, when I get to hangout and feel like I once did. All the other days, I feel extremely lonely. I do have people to talk to and call friends, but it's not the kind of thing I had way back in high school, where we all lived nearby and would hang out everyday or so.
I was also a popular kid on high school and now i am the exact opposite of that. I learned how dependent I was on these friends in high school and how didn't really have much of an independent identity.
It has been a learning experience but at the same time, I am going through these unbearable feelings of loneliness and depression.
I know what the standard solution is. To go out more and be friendly and join clubs and all of that. First of all, I don't have much time, as I have to work on my studies and career.
Secondly, making friends with people is not that hard but the problem really is that everyone already has their core group of friends whom they have been with since years.
I can manage to be a part of everyone's fringe group but no one's core group. I don't think it's possible at this stage.
To top it all off, I don't have a girlfriend, never had one. I have hooked up a bit but that's it. I feel like a complete loser and the expectations I had from my life at this stage, it has all turned out to be the exact opposite of that.
On the other hand, it seems to be worried about petty things like these when you know millions of people in the world are dying of hunger and poverty. I don't have it nearly as bad.
But these thoughts don't make anything any better. I still feel depressed and lonely and for the firts time in my life have wept and cried like a baby over these things. Many times.
It's like a recurrent cycle of depression. Sometimes the busy schedule keeps all these thoughts away. But reality eventually comes back and hits hard.
I see all the others with their core group of friends, having fun, living the life you're supposed to be living at this age, and I just sit at home doing nothing.
Thanks to the clarity of your writing, I think I have a pretty clear picture of what you're going through. I know this can be very difficult and painful, and like you say, comparing yourself to others less fortunate doesn't really change anything. Your pain is your pain, regardless of what others may be experiencing.
It's good that you have the friends that you do, and it also sounds like you have some good social skills that allow you to make friends easily. Those are big pluses, and I encourage you not to take them for granted. If you did not have any friends at all, and could not make friends, the road ahead would be much more difficult.
So, where does that leave us? You're feeling left out, and it's your perception that everyone has their core group established, and you can only be included on the periphery of their activities. You also said that you don't now and have never had a girl friend. I know that must hurt a lot...to say the least.
These are big issues in a person's life, and you have every reason to feel what you feel. I want to encourage you to consider that there is indeed a road to take you from where you are to where you want to be.
I've discovered that there are three steps we take as human beings, which allows us to virtually "create our own reality." Those steps are:
1) You have a theory
2) You want to be right about your theory (we all do...it's human nature)
3) Therefore, you look for evidence to support your theory, and you find it, proving your theory to be right--whether it makes you happy or not.
For example, you have a theory that others have already formed their group. You will automatically look for evidence to support that theory, and you'll find it...but you won't like the outcome.
So, I suggest that you develop some new theories, like:
"I am a good friend. There are people out there who are a good fit for me, to become good friends. People are attracted to me." The trick is to believe your theories, as much as you possibly can.
To help you with that I suggest that you read this page on self love
. Be sure and follow all of the instructions on that page, especially the positive journaling about yourself. Trust this process, do the journaling, and you will start to feel better...which will make you more attractive to others.
You can do this. You've already got a lot going for you, and I strongly encourage you to expect it to just get better and better.
The trick to all of this is your mental focus. If you allow your mental focus to go to what's wrong and not working in your life, you will feel bad about yourself, making it much more difficult to attract the kind of relationships you want. If on the other hand, you practice a positive mental focus every day until it becomes very strong, you will become much more attractive to others, because you will be feeling so much better inside yourself.
I hope this helps. Believe in yourself, and your ability to create the kind of relationships you choose.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
I don't think I'm forming negative theories and proving themselves to me. I think I'm just analyzing the situation very realistically and calling a spade a spade. So when i say just about everyone around has a core group of friends to lean back on for emotional or psychological support, it indeed is the case. Ofcourse, there are people in huge numbers who've got it much worse than me and many who are in the same boat.
Im not ignoring that. Im simply placing myself somewhere in the entire spectrum of social and psychological states.
Also, i dont think i feel badly about myself or have low self esteem. I recognize myself for all the amazing qualities i have but i also recognize things about me that aren't so good and am trying to work on it.
The point is, none of that is going to cut it. A simple fact is that it's really difficult to become really close to someone at this stage of life, when there's so much going on in terms of career and life in general.
You can manage to have relationships that have a fleeting existence, but at the end of the day, I don't really have that core group of friends that i can say has my back, or with whom i can regularly hang out.
Should i just accept this as a fact?? As an opportunity lost ? And just deal with it ? What do you say ?
ANSWER: Hello again. I apologize if my previous answer missed the mark for you. I'll try again.
You sound like a very intelligent person, who has strong feelings and opinions. That's good. It also sounds like you have good self esteem, and you're aware of your strengths and weaknesses.
In this most recent question/statement, you make it clear that your perceptions of yourself and the social world around you are accurate. I won't question that. Then you ask if you should just accept this as a fact...as an opportunity lost...and just deal with it. I would have to say no to that.
What I do suggest is that you ask yourself these questions:
* What can I learn from my present situation that is or will be useful to me going forward?
* What is present in my life that gives me any kind of joy or satisfaction, and how can I build on that?
* How did I get myself into this situation, or otherwise contribute to these outcomes in my life?
* What choices can I make in the future that will help me prevent or minimize the possibility of this type of situation?
* What friendships exist for me now (however distant or superficial they may be), and how can I contribute to these relationships?
I'm all about taking responsibility for what happens in our lives, because of the freedom that provides. If we don't take responsibility, then we're innocent and helpless victims of the circumstances and forces around us...which from my perspective is an untenable position and an unworkable formula for dealing with life.
It's been my experience that the only attitude that really works in life is intelligent optimism. Look at the facts, leaving nothing out, and work to create an optimistic belief about your future possibilities.
I hope you find something helpful in my response.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
I tried to answer those questions and tried to analyze my behaviour a bit more.
This is what i have come to realize..
First of all, i look at friendship in a very binary way. Either some one is truly a friend, or they are just people in my life with a temporary existence.
So far, apart from family, i haven't been able to form relationships that i can say will last a lifetime.
Because of this, i have high standards for my friends. I would expect my friends to include me as much as possible because i try to do this with every one else. I always try not to miss any opportunity to get my friends involved in anything and everything i do.
I like to open myself up more or less completely with my friends. I try not to leave behind or ignore any of my friends. In short im the nice guy, but not at all overly nice in that creepy way.
That's why, i also have equally high expectations from my friends. And when i don't see them living upto that, it bothers me. It makes me feel sad when i am put down by my friends. I dont know if some people just like doing that or wether its a mask to hide their insecurity and pump up their egos. I don't like people like that. Unfortunately, i've always had friends of that kind.
I also try to draw away from people on intent in order to get attention. That doesn't mean i'm always waiting for others to make plans or include me or something like that. But i don't pester people beyond a point so that i don't try to come across as too clingy. I try to take initiatives. But when i see a lack of initiatives from the other side, instead of clinging on further, i give up and withdraw. This I feel is nothing but a subconscious way to attract attention to myself.
In short, i think it's always me making an effort to get close to people and not the other way round.
That compounds the sense of loneliness. It feels as if i dont really have a friend who genuinely cares about me, but instead its always me clinging on to other people.
Other people won't take much of an initiative , i guess, because they already have a pillar in their life. They are not needy. They are cool with me clinging on but they'd be equally cool if i weren't there. Because they have their core friends.
In order to be a part of that core group, it takes time and a lot of interaction and doing suff together. But for that, i also need initiative from the other side, which is lacking because of the reasons i talked above.
Its like a vicious circle. I cant break out of it.
What do i do ?
I have a couple of responses for you. Friends need to be loved and appreciated for who they are, as they are. This means putting aside your expectations and needs, regarding what you want them to be. I know this is hard, but it's the only thing that works. Everyone wants to be loved and accepted as they are...it's human nature.
Think of all of your friends, and make lists of their positive aspects. Do your best to see the goodness and value of each person, and make up your mind to enjoy who they are and how they show up, without wanting them to be any different. If you find that you just can't accept any of them, then they are not good possibilities for friendship with you.
The other thing is, I want you to think about balance in all of your relationships. Nature seeks balance in all things, including human relationships. Give and share in proportion to what is being given and shared with you in each relationship. If you give more, want more and expect more than the other person is giving and wanting, then the relationship is out of balance, and you will not find satisfaction.
In summary, love people as they are, and they will be more likely to love you as you are. Seek balance in the giving and receiving, and make every possible effort to create happiness in your own life no matter what.
You can do this, if you set your mind and heart to it.
My best to you,