Advice for the lost and weary

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    I am a 23 years old Indian woman. I have never been in a relationship. I have only had guys i liked before none of whom were single at the time. There is a pattern though – I only found out they had girlfriends after us becoming friends, and used to wait in hopes that they would break up and also was maybe delusional in thinking that they liked me and would some day choose me. However, due to jealousy our friendship would end.

    I also have seen really turbulent marriages in my family – from domestic abuse to simple indifference and disrespect. All of them arranged. That was one of the reasons i decided back in the 8th grade that would never go for an arranged marriage.

    I used to feel extremely insecure about things like my looks, my english, how i was called a  nerd, how my parents would never fit in with the other families – my mother as she was conscious about her english and my father as he simply could never fit in, now i realize it may be because he is bipolar.

    My mother was never open or vulnerable – she always had a stereotype of what a city girl should be – strong, fearless, social, etc. I have never felt comfortable in my own body. Always felt in any social situation like i should not be there. But i never heard any kind words from her.

    So i think i have always yearned for a boyfriend who would love me and make me feel like i am enough and that all my flaws would not matter.

    I somehow decided to break out of my shell and made good friends at college.After the three heart breaks and finding my best friend at college  i  grew more independent, i did not need friends only to please them anymore and i decided i would not get married as i was only looking for validation and i truly don’t need a guy.

    Due to the lack of self confidence i convinced myself that i could never be a good enough problem solver and lack skills to be an engineer. Since i never was passionate about anything since childhood – i hardly have any memories and even my mom says i was very detached – i became a engineering graduate and joined a big company as a web developer with the highest package out of all the offers in my college. Yet i did not believe i could do it. I really struggled a lot and the procrastination and apathetic team did not help. I could have found another job but i did not believe i could and stayed for two years.

    Now i do not know what to do next. When someone talks about higher studies i want to do it. When it is about changing domains i want to do it. But i somehow do not work towards them, may be because i do not want them badly enough. Yet i am not happy where i am. And i have a fear of missing out.

    I have been putting off looking for a husband through arranged marriage as i know i will never know a guy in a few minutes. But now i have said yes to creating a profile as i am sick of feeling stuck and my mother says if i delay it more there will be fewer guys that would want to go for my height and salary (both are above the average). This search has brought out insecurites about my looks again.  But also, what if i am meant to be single. What if that is the best life for me to live.

    Same goes with career, i don’t really care but don’t want to end up begging so i am swayed by what ever people say is important, loathe myself for not having that skill and do nothing about it.

    I am sick of hearing about gratitude. I really sometimes wish i could die. And i really have no support. I even met a life counsellor and her advice was to focus on being happy. I can practice mindfulness but the world seems too harsh and difficult. I do not think i can make it but want to try.

    A lot of answers here talk about gut feeling, but i have also heard that you should step out of your comfort zone. They sound contradictory to me.

    I need advice -1 . how can i know what is the right thing to do

    2. How can i get unstuck in the situation i am in.




    Hi, I am 30 years old. Until now, I still don’t know if job is I really want or enjoy? I had an average (with average payment) job last year, but with very good works environment. I leave it because I got better job (good payment), but the working environment is the worst. At least the worst in my working experience (horrible boss, bad communication between colleagues). I am thinking this is maybe mistakes. I could just quit but, what if I ended make wrong decision again. For now, I decided just go through with it. If three more years I am still feeling this, I could consider quitting. I want to explore more what job that I enjoy and what skills should I take if I will quit later. In my life, I still don’t know what is right for me. Every time, I think too much, it just make my stress worst. Don’t pressure your self. You could try breathing exercises, it help me a lot with my anxiety.


    You are still young, 23 years old. I am older and I am willing to do anything to make myself better even quitting my job in my thirties. My suggestion is just go through with what you have now. On that process, you could discover what is your passion. I also suggest not afraid to try new thing. It’s never too late to be might you have been. If you feel the thing is right and it makes you happy, just do it. It is better not to base your feeling by other people opinion. Sorry for my bad English, I am not a native speaker


    Dear gj:

    I read your previous posts of last year as well as this one.

    Here is what I figure, and I will put it simply and to the point, then I will ask you if I my understanding is correct:

    As a child you were unhappy with what you experienced, maybe your mother was sad a lot and you wanted to make her happy, maybe you saw her struggle and you wanted to make her life easier. You tried again and again, you tried this and that, but all your efforts failed. So you gave up, gave up hoping that there is something you can do to make a difference.

    And so, you go through life with the mindset, the core belief, that you are powerless, that there is nothing you can do to make a difference. And so, you feel no calling, no solid interests, no passion, no ambition, not knowing what it is that you want.

    Do I understand correctly?



    Thank you, Amelia. I am just really tired of moving through life aimlessly.


    Hi anita, i remember discussing about my work situation with you. Thank you for replying here again.

    My mom was incredibly unhappy and sad. I don’t think i was trying to make her happy. I think i was trying to survive. I am not sure if it was my mom’s doing or how i interpreted things or where it started but i convinced my self i was useless. I did not get into the best of colleges because i did not believe i could make it and hence did not prepare well. My whole life has been a loop of believing i won’t make it, not putting effort and as a result not making it. “It”refers to anything that could have given me a boost of confidence. Whether it is career or health.

    I really tried until 8th grade. I believed we would end up begging if i did not get a good job. I used to study all the time and basically had no interests. However, the first time i liked a guy i was severely distracted and have never put the same effort again even now at work. I knew all my flaws by the time i was in 12 th grade and also severely hated my family for not being supportive in any way. I never was a child. I can see the difference in my sister and I. She is chirpy and jovial despite suffering from a really bad eye condition due to which simple tasks are difficult for her. She was even bullied for it. I will not say it did not get to her but she just moves forward. She had a childhood -The difference in maturity in the two of us is evident.

    College went smooth because i was studying with people that made it easy for me to get good grades as it was all relative. I truly could have gone to a better college. But i do not hold that against myself. Since it is not an esteemed college i don’t consider it an achievement and my entire time in college went in believing i will not get a job.

    It was not until around the time last year when i wrote on this platform that I realized that I am not incompetent and can do things if i give it my all. But this has not helped. I am not able to move forward. I don’t have the energy to try. I don’t know what to go for next. I really feel empty and i have no one.

    My mom does not know why we marry. She tells me that it is what we have to do. And literally i am looking at strangers and deciding if i want them for a husband. I at the same time am not able to turn away from this.

    I am powerless, people are too strong, harsh even cruel. No one stops to see where another is coming from. So i am stuck being down and weak while everyone else bombards me with their expectations. I do not even know if i should reject them as they maybe right after all. I have truly not worked on anything since 8th grade. I have no joy left.


    Dear gj:

    “My mom was incredibly unhappy and sad”- this is a devastating experience for a child, to watch her mother being incredibly unhappy and sad. Naturally, the child tries to make her mother happy in the little ways she can. A child cannot get a paying job, cannot earn money, can not buy her mother what she wants, so a child, in practical terms, is limited to what she can do.

    So what does she do, that young child wanting nothing more intensely than to make her mother happy? She may pick up a flower and give it to her mother, draw on a paper and give that creation to her mother, she may clean her room, or part of the home, to please her mother. The child does what she can do.

    “I don’t think I was trying to make her happy”- you did try to make her happy, early on, you did. Maybe you stopped when you gave up, when you found out that all your efforts failed.

    “I think I was trying to survive”- a child needs her care taker, her parent, to look happy enough. in control. For a child, to have a parent that may.. die at anytime because of intense misery, that is a danger to the child’s survival.

    “I convinced myself I was useless… I am powerless”- unfortunately for you, in the quest of making your mother happy, you were useless, and you were indeed powerless.

    Not your fault, it is just that no child has the power to make a miserable parent happy.

    I see your hope as understanding this very concept, that you did fail in an impossible task. And then seeing that you can succeed in tasks that are possible.

    Your interest, curiosity, passion, knowing what to do, all these will return over time, little by little if you understand better and change your core belief that you are useless and powerless.




    Do you have any advice on how to know and change core beliefs, anita?


    Dear gj:

    Yes, changing core beliefs that significantly hinder us in life best done in quality psychotherapy with a capable therapist who is honest, hard working and adheres to the truth, to reality (not resorting to convenient/ traditional thinking). It takes being engaged in a healing process that will take a few years before you feel better on an ongoing basis, which means you keep being engaged in the process although you feel distress, you persist through the distress.

    I mentioned adhering to the truth, to reality. You can start here, on your thread, start forming a loyalty to the truth, even if and when it means that you are no longer loyal to your mother. Do you think you can do that?



    I don’t quite follow what you mean by forming loyalty to the truth on this thread, anita – could you please elaborate?


    Dear gj:

    I will ask you two questions. Following your answers I will elaborate:

    1. Do you believe that during all the times your mother was “incredibly unhappy and sad” that she loved you, and therefore you were a loved child?

    2. If your answer to the above is yes, what evidence do you  have that you were a loved child?


    • This reply was modified 3 years, 2 months ago by anita.

    <p style=”text-align: left;”>1 My family in general is very rigid. We don’t really express our feelings. That changed for me in my teens but my mother is still the same. When you say loved, i take that as knowing someone is always there for you and cherishes you. I do not have evidence for that.My mom has always asked us to solve our problems. She never listens for us to unload, it is always to solve it or fix it and tell us what we are doing wrong. But not in a harsh way, it is just detached.</p>
    <p style=”text-align: left;”>2. She does love us, to this day she becomes unsettled when i fall sick and i see that she wants to see us get better. I think she has her own idea of what is right and she wants that for us – her behaviour reflects that but it has left me feeling very lonely at times when i just wanted someone to be by my side when i was down</p>


    Dear gj:

    I will now elaborate about what I mean by being loyal to the truth:

    You wrote abut your family, including your mother: “We don’t really express our feelings”- it is not true. If your mother didn’t express her feelings throughout your childhood, you wouldn’t know that she was “incredibly unhappy and sad”. She expressed the feeling of intense sadness, this is how you knew she was incredibly sad.

    But she didn’t express affection for you, she didn’t look at you with affection, smiling, being happy that you exist, did she- if she felt that affection for you, you would see it in her face and hear it in her voice, she would have looked and sounded happy to see you, to hear you. She would have asked you questions, wanting to know more about what you think and feel.

    “knowing someone is always there for you and cherishes you. I do not have evidence for that… She never listen for us unload…detached..She does love us, to this day she becomes unsettled when I fall sick and I see that she wants us to get better”-

    -this means she loves you enough to want you alive and physically healthy, but she doesn’t love you enough to listen to you or cherish you.

    – does she care about strangers and animals when they are sick, wanting for them to remain alive and be physically healthy?

    * I will soon be away from the computer for about two hours.




    I see what you mean, anita. My mom does not care about strangers or animals. I feel bad for her.

    She had to marry the first guy that ever said yes to her. No one asked her opinion and she never questioned why she did not get a vote.

    I once asked her how she felt when she held me for the first time, she said she does not remember much and agreed it may not have been a significantly joyous reaction. I can’t hold this against her. She never had a choice.

    She had a happy path in her head, her mother was happily married by which i mean my grandfather never beat or yelled at her and she never had to do anything on her own. This did not happen for my mom.

    My father’s family hid his mental illness from my mom and she only found out after she had me. When she told her father, although he was in a very close by town he did not visit. This was the time when my dad was manic and my mom had never seen anything like that before.

    My mom has complained that her parents never truly cared about her. And i think it is a pattern. They are all rearing children, not really raising them. No one cares about emotional needs. They are all doing what society expects them to do. Which is why despite me being independent and strong out in society my mom still needs to see me married. Otherwise she would have failed as a parent.


    Another thing, anita – Do you have any insight on why i can never take action. Some of the thoughts are –

    1. It won’t work out

    2. I will give up anyways

    3. It will not change anything

    I am wondering if i refuse to change or take action as i am still waiting for someone to accept me as i am.

    Also, i have not always been the best daughter. I did well at school, but i think i was always upset with my mom for how she would always stay a victim or vent the frustrstion out at us, so i used to throw tantrums and fight with her. I was also too lazy to help out in the house, so i would say may be even i did not truly love her. I love her – but i think i am guilty of what i accuse my parents of – the love is expressed only during illnesses, the rest of the time it is just words and not actions.


    Dear gj,

    Your mother played a very important role in childhood as it seems she was the one that influenced your actions and expectations of life. And it seemed that she had certain expectations for you, being her daughter, expectations that probably caused you a lot of anxiety and stress. Added to the stress was your need to just have a mother that would hold your hands during your dark hours of being bully and being different, only you didn’t have many people tell you that it was okay to be you, the way you are. That you were left to solve your own problems as a child meant you didn’t have the opportunity to learn good strategies to deal with such stressful situations while learning that you couldn’t depend on the adults around you for support. When people don’t know what to do, they look around them at what other people are doing and simply follow along with that because they don’t know otherwise.

    But you’ve also developed resentment for your mother because she rejected your plea for help, yet still tried to tell you what you should be doing. You wish/ed for her support only to receive criticism in return. You wanted her to tell you it’s okay to be you. You wanted her to be a role model that you can ask advice from. You wished for affection from your mother; a pat on your head, a hug every now and then, compliments and care. You wanted so much from this person who you called ‘mother’; only, the result was disappointing. So you look for an outside source for that love, for the care and affection. You look for someone who can love and accept you for who you are.

    But the thing is, you can’t wait for someone to accept all of you. That expectation is very heavy because you are expecting them to accept everything that is you, the good and the bad, without complaint, but can you do the same thing for other people? Can you shoulder every one of their burdens, from their sorrow and anger to their woes about life? Can you hold them up in all of their darkest hours, even at the middle of the night, without wanting to scream? Can you be okay with listening and accepting all of their selfish demands without feeling used/manipulated? If you can’t, that’s okay. You’re only human, but you can’t expect another human being to do that for you.

    No matter how much you might care about another person, it doesn’t mean you’ll love that person all the time. There might even be periods where you resent or hate them for whatever reasons. In the end, love is a choice. You love a person and then you choose to continue loving them, or you don’t. Passion will fade over time, as any chemical in the brain comes and goes. Yet the people in the relationship can still choose to be in love. Do not let the movies and books delude you into the illusion that love conquers all. Just because you love someone does not mean that person won’t be able to hurt you. People can hurt those they love, at time unintentionally and at times on purpose. So it’s not that love conquers all, but people choosing to love a person because that is what they believe is the correct thing to be doing. They choose to stay. They chose to work on their relationship when all seem hopeless. They chose to be committed to that decision.

    Your mother probably does care for you, but she doesn’t understand how to love another person. She probably went through what you went through with her own mother, your maternal grandmother. Many parents tend to embodied what they went through in their childhood with the way they parent their own children. So how she raised you is probably similar to how she was raised. Because she doesn’t know better, that is how she chose to raise you. While that does not excuse her behavior, let it give you perspective that she might not understand how to love another person, even her own children.

    But when you add up all those experiences, it can be seen that you didn’t have many good role models growing up. Nor did you have a safety net to fall back to whenever you made mistakes. Then you have your mother’s expectations, one of which is for your marriage. All of that resulted in you developing a story/mantra of you, the person that you are, is not a good person. You are not talented, you are not a good daughter, you are not smart, you are not pretty, you are not good enough and probably more. You continuously tell yourself these stories while also seeking someone to accept all of that. You want someone to save you, to help you, because your mother was not that person. Those are very heavy expectations.

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