August 14, 2014 at 8:18 am #63361mimicusParticipant
Hi everyone, first post here.
I’ve taken this “problem” to pretty much everywhere I could online – depression forums, loneliness forums… you name it but I couldn’t find an answer. To some, this might seem like a “petty” problem and it does to me too at times and I find myself writing and deleting my thoughts on forums. But here I am finally finding the courage to post it.
I’m a 22 year old guy who had socially isolated himself for the last decade or so. Being an introvert, it didn’t matter at first and it barely even matters now when I’m in an “okay” mood. But when I find myself alone, physically alone, as in while going to bed or when I go out alone and I see others with other people being happy, I just can’t help but want it.
I live in a place full of beautiful people and I believe a lot of them are really nice, friendly, lovely people. I’ve lived here for the last 22 years of my life and I’m soon going to move to a new city. When I think about it and about the fact that I’ll probably just be taking one friend with me, one friend in 22 years of my life, it just saddens me to a point that I can’t even express.
I want friends. I want people around me. I want to like and be liked by people. Am I the worst person on the planet?August 14, 2014 at 8:31 am #63366MattParticipant
Have you tried to make friends? If you want a sandwich, you go and make a sandwich, right? What’s stopping you?
As far as being the worst person on the planet… why do you ask that? What have you done?
MattAugust 14, 2014 at 9:03 am #63367AikiBenParticipant
I isolated myself too for most of my college life and a large part of my uni life. I often tried hard to push myself to just go out anyway even though I didn’t want to when I was at uni, and to tell you the truth I’m not sure it really helped all that much.
Things have only really started to turn around for me in the last few years after leaving uni when I committed myself to getting to the bottom of inner stuff like this so this is all I can recommend really having come from a similar place to where you are at perhaps. Keep searching for answers, for the truth, for freedom. Find what feels like your inner path in life and follow it. For me life keeps getting richer the more I do this.
All you need to know is this: as within so without.
Getting the within stuff good takes time and effort but honestly it is as simple (not easy though) as that. There’s no need to confuse yourself trying to workout asnswers to questions and coming up with justifications for: why am I like this? Do I need to change? How can I make this better? Do it if you want but all the knowledge in the world isn’t really gonna help.
This also doesn’t mean you have to change yourself so you are more beautiful inside, it’s already there, I know that sort of thing’s really annoying to hear, but it’s true, you just need to unearth it from all the mountains of soil you’ve dumped on top (years of analysis, too much thinking, theorising, etc, etc). The unearthing takes time, effort and patience. But what I can say is that I’m starting to see that once you get to a certain point life can become effortless, you can enjoy life a whole lot more, find inner fulfillment like you’ve never experienced. I’ve only had glimpses of this, but even the glimpses have been worth the effort compared to the futility with which so many people are living life. I would say the biggest barrier to reaching this is thinking, too much mind. The main practical thing I can recommend that can help here is meditation and something life yoga/martial arts that are great for getting you out of your mind. As it says in the book The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, The mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible enslaver, and most people are enslaved by their minds. This website is also a great starting point. One word of caution: just don’t get caught up in the self-help trap of thinking you need to improve yourself which often just causes even more frustration and bad feelings. I’ve found that when I’m able to be in that mindful place that meditation practice allows you to be, or being centered as martial arts can train, that you naturally know the right way to act, that you can act against bad habits quite easily, in other words it’s almost no effort. Most people have grown up to believe that life is a struggle, the more I read what more enlightened people say the more I get the message that actually it doesn’t, the paradox is it takes considerable effort and steely determination to return to that natural state, but it is possible I believe.
you’ve made a start, now just keep going, no mattter what, you’ll drop the torch sometimes, but just pick it up again at some point and you’ll be amazed at what starts to happen, be a little patient though. Good luck!
Ben.August 14, 2014 at 2:37 pm #63382KarenParticipant
As a fellow introvert and a sufferer of social anxiety, I can completely empathise with you! I identify your issue as extremely important for your own happiness, identity and complete being, therefore definitely not “petty”.
I congratulate you for identifying yourself as an introvert, but have you accepted yourself as one? There is absolutely nothing wrong with being introverted (and it doesn’t make you the worst person on the planet!), it just generally means you prefer to have meaningful and deeper conversations rather than the trivial rubbish that extroverts are happy gassing about.
Introverts are typically not shy people, instead they are intimidated by too much stimulation which may be as little as talking to a group of 3 people let alone going to a party where there’s 200+ people.
My suggestion to you would be to start talking to just one other person about the things that interest you. If the person isn’t interested ah well, their loss. Try again. You will find someone with some common ground and the ball will start rolling from there.
How do I find someone to talk to? I hear you ask, well there are two wonderful things about the age we live in now that will help you on your way;
1. You can do research online in the comfort of your home about forthcoming events and start putting together an events diary that suits/interests you of things you plan to attend.
We have social groups here called Meetups where you can add your interests/hobbies to a profile and find like minded people to meet up with. Also citysocializing pop up in cities and towns everywhere. People create events online to go and see a film, catch up for dinner, go shopping etc. Both Meetup and citysocializing are online. If neither of these are near where you are, why not set one up?
2. There’s a lot less stigma attached to going out on your own (I frequently go to the cinema on my own and love it!) and other people are more likely to approach/talk to you if you’re on your own then if you’re with someone else.
You might also find the following book useful;
Introvert Advantage – Marti Olsen Laney
Karen xAugust 15, 2014 at 9:14 am #63449mimicusParticipant
@Matt Remember how when we were kids we didn’t have to “try” to make friends and they just somehow happened? I don’t remember initiating a single friendship my entire life – either they were initiated by the other person or it just somehow happened. I know it’s kinda crazy to want something that you had as a kid but what can I say? I guess I do.
And as far as being the worst person part goes, I see every kind of person with a friend – tall, short, fat, thin, dark, fair, good and even bad – why can’t I have it? There must be something wrong with me right? Maybe I’m the worst person on the planet.
@AlkiBen I tried going out too but like you, it ended up doing the exact opposite of what it was supposed to do – I almost always end up feeling crappier. I don’t think I need to change myself, I’ve never thought that. But seeing how “just being myself” never seems to work, I think something IS wrong with me and I need to. Moreover, I think I’, missing all these opportunities for some potentially amazing friendships. I’m almost at the end of my college and I don’t have a single good friend to take from it – something that was supposed to be the happiest years of my life (it wasn’t even close). I know this won’t matter as much 10 years down the line if everything turns out fine but if it doesn’t, I fear I’ll end up regretting every last chance I had to make a friend.
@Karen Yes, I have accepted being an introvert and it cushions my pain a lot of the time – the idea that I don’t need as many friends or relationships as the people around me. I’d even go as far to say that I thought low of people who indulge in all the showy pretense of being social and hung out with people and weren’t “more serious” with their lives and whatnot. But I guess I can’t kill the human in me who has a basic primal need to be social.
I’m not shy and it often irritates me that people associate introverts with shyness. I’m not shy by a far shot; I just have problems initiating conversations and stuff like that.
As far as the online socializing ideas go, I’ve tried looking for some but I couldn’t find anything of interest. When I do, either I’m busy or I end up finding out that the even just passed. But I’ll keep trying anyway. Thanks for the suggestion.
And finally, your suggestion about talking to the next person seems… erm… what’s the word here… I just can’t. I think I have anxiety too and if I find myself sitting in about 3 ft of another person, I end up putting up this facade where I pretend I’m busy thinking about something very important or what’s going outside is more interesting. I’ve even “pretended” to sleep so many times! As for conversing with random strangers go, I just don’t see what I could potentially talk to them about. Also, what adds to the whole problem is that I’ve had very little new interaction with people as in, I haven’t really interacted with strangers in strange situations and when on to be friends. All of my former friends till date have been my neighbors, schoolmates, etc. So when someone shows some kind of interest in trying to approach me, I take it as all sorts of things. Like just the other day, these two girls were talking to each other (I was siting near them) and both of them took turns looking/staring at me to see if I’d respond in some way (maybe). It made me extremely uncomfortable up to the point where after a while, I came to the conclusion that they were trying to “bully” me and I decided to totally ignore them.August 15, 2014 at 9:59 am #63452MattParticipant
Ah! Well, the good news is you’re not the worst person on the planet. The bad news is you’re being dumb. You’ve never initiated any friendships, and repel other people when they are near you. So… don’t you see the issue here? How exactly would you make any friends with such a strategy?
Consider a different one. Ask people questions about their life. My favorite (used on me at a meditation retreat by an Aussie) was “so, matt, what are you intensely passionate about?” The conversation just blossomed on its own from there.
Now, about the fear and feeling of loneliness… consider that you sound like you feel stuck in a rut. Very normal, and usual. Isolation has a way of turning our attention inward, making us focus on ourselves almost exclusively. Like a thirsty man may think only of their thirst, and not see anything else around them. Of course this inspires hopelessness, because even as you sit and wish to connect, you’re perhaps too far in your own head to see around you.
If you’re fed up with complaining and whining about what you don’t have, perhaps you’re ready to build what you want! Consider giving up on finding friendship “out there”, and grow a sense of friendship inside yourself. Metta meditation does this very simply. As we sit and become peaceful where we are, accepting the puzzle pieces of our life as is, and begin to focus on warm, friendly thoughts, we begin to grow warm, friendly feelings. When we have those feelings, friendships are easy to make, we naturally feel excited about other people’s brilliant lives, and shaking hands becomes a joy, rather than a quest. Said differently, making friends is about having fun alongside others, sharing common interests and hobbies. Its not about grabbing onto a person and saying “oh goodness, I need a friend.” When we spend time growing metta, that thirst goes away, the need for friends to escape the feeling of loneliness goes away. What is left is peace, appreciative joy, and contentment. Consider “Sharon salzberg guided metta meditation” on YouTube, if interested.
Finally, you’re not broken because you don’t “know it all”. When we’re young, often we are impatient, as though we should automatically know what to do, especially if our parents made us feel bad for our ignorance. Said differently, you’re only 22, so of course you don’t know your butt from a hole in the ground. All normal, usual, and unavoidable. The trick is to accept that, and slowly, over time and trial and error, learn what makes you happy, and how to grow a life you want to live through. Ditch the “I never have, so never will…” bullshit, and try “I never have, so, how do I?” That’s when we can humbly learn, and ever so gently grow our little garden.
MattAugust 17, 2014 at 11:32 am #63542rosamundiParticipant
Some good ideas above, and I’d definitely go along with investigating meditation.
There are also a lot of useful pointers on this site – http://www.succeedsocially.com/articlesmakingfriends which I wish had been around for me to read when I was at uni. It would have helped a lot! Most people find it a lot harder to talk to others and to make friends than it might appear. The bottom line really is that carrying on doing things the same way is unlikely to result in different results.
It’s worth the risk of trying something different.
August 21, 2014 at 11:30 pm #63787BobbyParticipant
- This reply was modified 9 years, 6 months ago by rosamundi. Reason: To link to a more relevant page of the site
You need to put yourself in a positive state, either fake it or find it genuinely, and find friends based on what your interest are, stay true to yourself and do what you love and the right people will come into your life