May 18, 2017 at 9:31 am #149843
So I graduated community college back in 2013, and I’ve kind of been struggling ever since. I have a *wonderful* girlfriend who supports me both financially and emotionally (and I sometimes remember that I do the same for her). Right now, though, I’m struggling with a lot of questions. If I wanted to drill down to them, here’s what I’d say they are.
1. I struggle to see myself as valuable in my relationship with my girlfriend. She’s the breadwinner between the two of us, she usually is the one to do the practical legwork of making plans, while I sort through my emotions. She admits she struggles with her feelings and says that while she does the practical labor, I do the emotional work. It’s hard for me to see that perspective, because I’ve always viewed emotional work as personal, and sometimes very selfish. Like, I don’t know how that’s much of a contribution. I feel like I’m only helping myself.
2. I struggle to find stable, fulfilling work. I’m ok with some *relative* stability, i.e. constant steady stream of gig work for now. My goal is to work in animation, but right now I’m kind of struggling to see that as more than a pipe dream. I’ve been using the past year to really dig into my art capabilities, and I’ve had some wonderful teachers. I’m just scared that taking this leap is going to out me as a fake. I haven’t been drawing since I was like ten, I picked it up for about a year or two in middle school and put it down because of depression and a desire to fit in. I’m picking it up again (and I love it, to be clear) but I’m really struggling with questions about worthiness. Do I deserve to get paid for my work? If not, what do I need to do to get there? What if I hate the lifestyle that comes with it but love the content? What if I love what I do but I don’t get to see my friends?
3. I found out last night that in a year my parents want my girlfriend and I out of the house. This is the big thing that triggered my crisis last night. that compounded with them unceremoniously kicking me off of their cell phone plan when I was already in a bind (on my way out the door while I was trying to replace my phone that had just died while making sure I wake up at a decent hour the next day) reminded me how cruel and unforgiving adult life can be. I’m on my own, basically. No one wants to help in any meaningful way. It would be cheaper to pool resources but it seems like I’m the only one willing to do that, and that’s probably because I’m already unsuccessful anyways, so of course I would.
4. I also suffer from bouts of depression. I’m not medicated, I found it disturbs my sleep and that makes the depression worse, but occasionally I’ll have bouts of it. Living in America, a culture both founded on the Protestant work ethic and unforgiving to mental health, I worry about the days that I don’t even want to get out of bed or have to phone it in. I feel like I need to perform at my best every day at every hour simply to make ends meet. If one thing fails, or I get something that sets me back like a medical emergency or a major car repair, I’m screwed. My parents can’t help. They lost everything in the financial crisis in 2009, and are basically starting from square one, working this stupid MLM that’s gonna take more money from them than it gives them.
5. The depression I mentioned feeds a lot on my self-worth issues. I was bullied a lot when I was a kid, and still don’t entirely trust people. Sometimes I think when people are being kind that they’re setting me up. They want something from me or they’re pulling a prank on me, and if I don’t test them first, I deserve anything that they bestow on me. Needless to say, this is pretty isolating, and leads me to not even really trust my own judgments. This is probably the hardest one to put into words. I want to trust. I want to be open. But I’m not scared of being hurt, I’m scared of being preyed upon–if that distinction makes sense.
Any advice on any one of these questions, emotional or practical, would be appreciated. Even if it doesn’t directly address one of these questions, I’d still appreciate the support.
CapoMay 18, 2017 at 10:28 am #149855
You wrote toward the end of your post: “I want to trust. I want to be open. But I’m not scared of being hurt, I’m scared of being preyed upon”-
your bullying experience (“I was bullied a lot when I was a kid”) has taught you to not trust people. Your experience was a real-life experience: you didn’t imagine being bullied, you really were. Kids bullying kids is common, unfortunately, it is not out of the ordinary life experience.
Direct experience is what teaches us most convincingly. And so, you shouldn’t trust people indiscriminately. It is true that some people will hurt you, if you are open to them. It already happened. And so, although you may want to trust everyone, it is not wise.
I suppose a child, before he/ she knows better, trusts everyone. The first betrayal of trust that a child experiences is mind boggling to a child’s brain: how can that be, he asks. Unconceivable! Yet it happens.
Once you learn and correctly evaluate a person to be trustworthy in this or that context- then trust that person in that context.
Other thoughts: help your girlfriend with a bit of the “practical legwork of making plans”- help with just one thing, every day. The confidence you will build as a result will be worth the effort.
Animation is a difficult industry to get into and succeed, isn’t it? Isn’t it a lot about being hired by a few dominant companies, something like being in the right place at the right time?
Hope to read from you soon.
anitaMay 18, 2017 at 10:47 am #149857
I distrust as my starting point. There’s this ambivalent feeling of wanting to get close to people and not doing so. It’s not with individuals, like my friends. It’s when I think in a generality about “people,” I think of a crowd of people, kind of seeing what they can get from me. It’s a hard notion to escape, that people are out to take what they can from you and are looking for someone to exploit, even if it’s poking fun at you for a little ego boost. Somehow. It makes starting interactions difficult.
When I think about it, I *do* some of the legwork. I need to sort through my feelings first, but when I’m done, or sometimes even before that, I do find little things I can do, like look up apartment prices for our current predicament of being gently nudged out of the house.
And yeah. It can be. There’s other sub-fields of it, and I wouldn’t necessarily have to have *one job* in the field to start. I’m flexible enough in this stage of my career. Still, especially with anything regarding artistic endeavors, which ironically is the only sort of work I’ve found meaningful in my lifetime, is notoriously hard to break into. I don’t really feel like I have any other skills that would pay the bills. I did well in school, sure, but it woefully underprepared me for life afterwards. I feel like a child again, learning how to do the most basic things like cook and manage bills. I do have a contact locally who works for an animation studio in my area. I’m scared to really reach out. He works 90+ hour weeks (of his own volition on his own business) but said something to the effect of “if you’re going out and hanging out with your friends instead of working on your demo reel, you’re not 100% dedicated.” and he’s right. I’m not 100% dedicated because it feels like I have no idea of what I’m getting into. I work really hard but it’s undermined by the feeling that it’s never enough.
CapoMay 18, 2017 at 10:58 am #149859
You are welcome. You wrote in your original post: “Sometimes I think when people are being kind that they’re setting me up. They want something from me or they’re pulling a prank on me, and if I don’t test them first, I deserve anything that they bestow on me. Needless to say, this is pretty isolating, and leads me to not even really trust my own judgments.” In your second post, you wrote: “It’s a hard notion to escape, that people are out to take what they can from you and are looking for someone to exploit, even if it’s poking fun at you for a little ego boost. Somehow. It makes starting interactions difficult”-
I think this is a very significant issue standing in your way and I think you will benefit from understanding it more thoroughly. For that purpose (and for my own understanding), I ask:
What previous experiences specifically (with the bullies/ other people in your life, family perhaps), were such that you were set up, used, and exploited?
anitaMay 18, 2017 at 1:05 pm #149863
So, for example, with my parents. My parents have, uh, very right-wing views. From an early age they sort of pushed me to listen to their views and demonize the other side. I remember even writing a paper where I had to pick a side regarding hate speech. My original paper was saying “it should be censored, etc.” and they listened to my argument, and basically said “I disagree with your point and my only advice for you is to change your position closer to mine.” This didn’t make me a lot of friends, honestly. I overidentified with my parents, they treated me well when I parroted their arguments back at them. I’ve come to very different conclusions after some deep work, and now I feel used. Like I wasn’t even exposed to the other side except for in demonizing generalizations. My mother also believes in the “Law of Attraction” which made me miserable. I thought for a long time that I would bring my own misery upon myself and therefore my misery was entirely and utterly my fault and that I was a terrible person for even *considering* that something might not go well. Needless to say, I was not very good at developing my own sense of self, aside from my tastes in entertainment. After that, when they lost everything in the financial crash, they found this MLM that basically promised that they’d have a “residual income” and that they’d found their answer. I was scared, and I got roped in. I was bad at it, because, once again, those things are not designed for you to succeed. They’re designed to sell you as much crap as possible and then tell you you’re “just not quite there yet.”
While in school, I remember at one time for weeks on end we would play “Nickball.” I was always it. I look back at it now, and wonder if they were laughing at or with me. I wasn’t great at basketball. I started in fourth grade, when everyone else had been playing since at least first grade. No, really. I did it because I wanted to be around my friends, and somehow masochistically stuck around with it for two years until I decided I hated it. Looking back on it, it felt more like exclusion than outright bullying. The details are fuzzy some 15 years later. I remember trying to share things that I liked and people smiling and nodding. I hate that reaction. I can’t remember if those kids asked about what I liked because they were interested or because they wanted to make fun of me.
I remember my first girlfriend cheating on me with one of my close friends. I was not a nice teenager, to be frank. I was kind of a prototypical upper-middle class white dude with a chip on his shoulder. Girls didn’t like me. Well, the ones I *wanted* to like me didn’t. And I mean that in the context of the time, I’ve sort of changed and realized that I was doing a lot of judgment based on social hierarchy. I was so incompetent that I looked into pickup artist crap, which both made me feel worse about myself somehow and made me more of an entitled jerk. The only reason my current girlfriend stuck around through the tail end is because she was kind enough to see through that. God bless her, I wouldn’t have had the patience for me.
Please message me if you have questions, it’s hard to dredge all this up on my own.
CapoMay 19, 2017 at 8:17 pm #150035
I think you were uncomfortable answering my question ? If so, I am more than willing not to ask any more.
I didn’t see the answer to my question in your last post, even though I looked for it. Maybe it is in your statement that your parents had very right wing political views. Maybe they were suspicious/ distrustful of people, and since you were “overidentified with (your) parents”, as is natural for a child, you took in their suspicion and distrust. I don’t know.
Regarding the law-of-attraction, you felt like a terrible person for even considering that something may go wrong, because your mother taught you that it will go wrong if you think it will, something like that. To fear your own thinking inviting bad experiences causes anxiety.
I wish I had insight into your “Quarter Life Crisis” but I don’t. I tried.
Post again, if you’d like. Maybe I will understand something I currently don’t and maybe someone else reading will.