August 4, 2019 at 1:04 pm #306539
First of all, Thanks for taking valuable time to read my post. I am posting here as I have been struggling with a feeling of despair, arising out of my perceived lack of strong relationships in my life.
I am a 26-year guy living in India. I just want a peaceful life filled with people whom I can care for. I do not have very high ambitions professionally. I have a very loving family who cares for me unconditionally. My parents and my sisters support me in everything I do and to every extent possible. This is probably the only relationships in my life which are strong.
I have a few friends whom I care about and can talk to. However, when I observe many of my other friends, I feel that they have some really strong friendships in which they have a lot in common. Their bond is really strong to the extent that they are present for each other in up and downs. I don’t envy them. I just wish that I also have such strong friendships in my life. I think the reason for my lack of strong friendships seems to stem from my lack of passion in any specific thing and also from the lack of natural charisma. It’s not that I don’t have any interests. I love traveling, outdoor activities, reading books and many more. But I don’t feel that I am super passionate about anything. Also, I am an introvert and I have trouble forming stories and talking too much. I feel that my life is not happening as others. And therefore I do not have many stories to tell.
I am a mere spectator in most of my friend circles where I just observe others talking and bantering. This even leads to my exclusion from the conversations and I feel unwelcome in my friend circles. This is depressing me and is affecting my interactions with my family, who loves me unconditionally. I worry about that but I feel lost and unable to find direction to rectify the affairs in my life.August 4, 2019 at 1:15 pm #306545
I would like to understand better, therefore I ask: can you tell me how you interact with your parents and sisters- are you introverted with them as well, having trouble talking and sharing, a spectator in their lives as well, lacking passion in what they are interested in?
anitaAugust 4, 2019 at 1:43 pm #306547
I don’t think that I am introverted with them. The conversations with them are completely different from the one with other people. For example, with my sister, I have frequent talks about her children and how to groom them. Similarly, with my other sister, we talk about the issues persisting in her life. Apart from these, we often discuss anything anyone needs to make a decision upon.
With friends, most of the time it is just jokes and tales.August 4, 2019 at 1:58 pm #306549
You said you have a few friends that you talk to and care about. Are these the friends that exclude you from conversations and have you feel unwelcome?
You also mention that you feel lost and unable to find direction to fix things in your life.
I am not sure what you are asking about. Are you tying your lack of close friendships with feeling lost and not knowing how to fix things in your life?
If you are only wanting input on creating close friendships then I would suggest you nurture the few friends that you feel close to. It’s not about quantity but quality for me.
Insofar as the lost and wanting to find a direction, please elaborate if you want input on that.
MarkAugust 4, 2019 at 11:54 pm #306593
I’m guessing that a lot of your friends are simply more extroverted than yourself? It can be hard being ‘the quiet one’ of the group, especially when the main group dynamic is based on contributing through jokes, tales and light conversation etc. As a more introverted type you are always going to be happier in one-on-ones, smaller groups, where the conversation is focused on something deeper, more meaningful than the light-hearted banter. Like the interactions with your sisters.
Does it mean you have to give up your friends – ofcourse not. But recognise you simply have something different to offer the group – all talkers need an active listener after all – without that there’s nothing! Even without your own stories to share you can contribute to the group dynamic by showing your interest and asking questions, helping to develop stronger connections with them one at a time. It can be helpful to set yourself targets such as ‘I will contribute two questions next time’ – making it seem achievable but more than you would otherwise do. A way of growing your confidence in contributing and helping stop the feeling you are simply standing there. Tbh, most introverts tend to have a small bunch of friends who they are close with, often other introverted types. It doesn’t mean you can’t be friends with your current group – but perhaps don’t expect them to be something they aren’t – same way don’t expect yourself to be something you are not. You can learn to improve your ability to socially interact but perhaps look elsewhere for the closer friendships.
Story-telling can also often be a form of competition in groups – as in ‘who’s done the best/craziest/weirdest/etc thing lately’. If you recognise it as such you can also recognise that it’s likely each of your friends is also insecure in their own way about where they stand in the group. Spend some time thinking about if you only feel “I feel that my life is not happening as others. And therefore I do not have many stories to tell” when you are in this group – i.e. when you are comparing yourself to others. If you are content with your life otherwise – no need to change – most people fall into the trap of comparing themselves and thinking they or their lifes fall short of what they ‘should’ be doing. But there is no ‘should’, just what makes you personally content.
Hope helps.August 5, 2019 at 1:22 am #306597
It occurs to me that you have a very strong family support system. These are the people that are there for you during your ups and downs. There are plenty of people ‘out there’ who would envy you that. You have a few friends who you care about and can talk to. These are strong relationships.
Your life is individual to you and will not happen as others lives are happening. The way to be ‘interesting’ is to be interested. Enjoy the stories and laugh at the banter. If you don’t have much in common with certain groups and you feel unwelcome then it is probably best for you to cultivate friendships elsewhere.
You say that you want a peaceful life shared with people for whom you care. Outwardly, it seems as if that is what you already had until you started focusing on this perceived problem which has thrown you into despair. Be content with what you already have and with who you are, return to the status quo.
Michelle has given you lots of pointers with which I agree.
If it feels good …………
PeggyAugust 5, 2019 at 6:51 am #306627
I re-read your original post and your answer to my question.
You are a 26 year old man. Your goal: “a peaceful life filled with people whom I care for”.
Your stated problem: “I have been struggling with a feeling of despair, arising out of my perceived lack of strong relationships in my life”.
You are satisfied with your relationships with your parents and sisters who are “very loving.. cares for me unconditionally.. support me in everything I do and to every extent possible”. With one sister you frequently talk about her children and how to groom them and with the other sister you talk about “issues persisting in her life”. With both sisters and parents you “discuss anything anyone needs to make a decision upon”.
On the other hand, your relationships with friends are unsatisfactory and not strong at all. They talk a lot, “talking and bantering”, tell lots of “jokes and tales”, and you observe them, not being part of their exchange. They, your friends, seem to have a lot in common with each other, but not with you. They are “present for each other in up and downs” but they are not present for you.
You figured that the reason for you not having close friendships with these friends is that although you have interests (ex., traveling, outdoor activities, reading books), you are not “super passionate” about your interests. You shared that you have “trouble forming stories and talking too much” and that you “lack of natural charisma”.
You wrote: “I feel that my life is not happening as others. And therefore I do not have many stories to tell… This is depressing me and is affecting my interactions with my family… I feel lost and unable to find direction to rectify the affairs in my life”.
Raaw, if you want, we can continue to communicate because it will take a few more posts for me to understand better and for you as well. What I figure at this point is the gender factor: you grew up with a mother and two sisters, that is, three females, now all women. Maybe your father, male, was not a strong presence in the home, maybe he was quiet, reserved, so you bonded with girls/ women and talk about women issues, such as the parenting of one of your sister’s children.
The friends you shared about, they are all males, are they? Maybe you are not used to male presence and therefore not comfortable.
What do you think about this possibility?
August 5, 2019 at 12:51 pm #306729
- This reply was modified 2 weeks ago by anita.
Thanks for sharing your views with me. I am comfortable with a few friends and can talk with them in those friend circles.
My issue is that most of my friendships were with people who were emotionally distant. The guy who was my good friend in school has always been distant from everyone. Same is the case with my college roommate. Even though I cared enormously in the respective time frames, I lost touch with them over time as we grew apart with time.
Recently, I met with a couple of my friends from school days. They all drink heavily and have a passion for music. After school days, they bonded over these factors while they were in nearby colleges. This resulted in a very strong bond between them. Similarly, most of the other people whom I know have a few really close bonds in their lives.
I feel sad for myself sometimes over the lack of such bonds. I would be starting a new chapter of my life soon in graduate studies in a different country. I do not want to repeat such a thing again.
Thanks for sharing your views with me. You are correct in the regard that I had a very strong female presence while growing up. Despite that, I grew up to be really antisocial and had trouble talking to people especially females. I didn’t realize this during my college days but it was while starting my job where I realized that I could not keep a conversation for more than a few minutes with anyone especially girls. The symptoms were those of Social Anxiety Disorder. I gradually overcome those and am in a better place right now. I think that societal pressure in my environment where it was a taboo to talk with girls attributed to my repressed personality. Additionally, the environment in which I grew was intense and we rarely joked around with each other. Despite the negative effects, I and my siblings grew up to be really successful for which I am grateful to my parents.
After I started on my journey to become a better self, I was often confused with respect to consuming alcohol and other social aspects. I think this confusion led me to be cocooned and avoid other people.
What do you think about this?August 5, 2019 at 1:10 pm #306735
I only read a small part of your recent post and will read it thoroughly when I am back to the computer, about 17 hours from now. I did read this sentence from your recent post: “the environment in which I grew up was intense and we rarely joked around with each other”-
Can you elaborate on that before I return?
Also, you wrote that you were “antisocial”- can you tell me what you mean by that term as it applied to you (“I grew up to be really antisocial”)?
August 5, 2019 at 1:10 pm #306737
- This reply was modified 2 weeks ago by anita.
Thanks a lot for sharing your views and a lot of helpful tips me to apply. I think that I am pretty blessed in the sense that I didn’t have to face any significant hardships in my life. I got a very good education and a good job. At times, I think that I didn’t really deserve those but I got the opportunities just out of sheer luck. My life is fulfilled that way.
As I mentioned in my response above, I feel that I was cocooned for a large part of my life due to which I have a few closer friendships. I think that I can make small talk now with people and even squeeze a few jokes in between. But at times it seems desperate and excess effort which is noticed by people as well. The excess effort often results in me remarking some trite statement which receives pity response from people.
My only concern is that I lack significant-close bonds of friendship. Late but not least, I have started nurturing a few friendships so that they can become significant for me in the times to come. It is just when I observe other people with a strong support system, that I feel despair for myself.
I’ll definitely try your suggestions and hopefully, I’ll be in a better place.
Thanks a lot for your kind words. You are correct that I have a perceived problem which might not exist in reality. I am a pushover personality and have trouble saying no to people. That is why I used to put in a lot of effort at the cost of my own peace. But now I have decided to keep a distance from people and social groups which trouble my peace of mind. I won’t cut them off but I will certainly not go out of my way to make them feel special, which I used to do earlier for everyone.
I still suffer from the lack of significantly strong friendships apart from those of family, but I believe that time will fix that problem for me if I continue to put in the effort for people who do the same for me. I think that in the meantime, I need to take up a few hobbies so as to be emotionally fulfilled myself.August 5, 2019 at 1:23 pm #306749
While growing up the focus in my house was strictly on studies. I had an addiction to playing computer games and rarely went outside with the children of my own age to play. I was an intense kid who threw tantrums and became angry at small instances. If I try to recall my childhood then it was spent either studying or playing computer games.
During school hours, I had a few friends with whom I used to talk. I rarely interacted with anyone whom I didn’t know at school. I used to envy others at that time who could fit in easily with others. I was heavily socially awkward. I couldn’t make small talk with anyone and was offended easily. This continued to my college days where I spent time with a few friends only. Anxiety used to grip me hard if I had to talk to anyone else even in my own batch. After completing my college, I only had a handful of people with whom I interacted during my stint. Out of my batch of 100 odd people, I think I had never or rarely interacted with around 60 of them. That is hugely large considering that we lived in the same building with rooms next to each other.
It was only after completing my college that I understood all this and undertook remedial steps for the same.August 5, 2019 at 1:27 pm #306755
I will read and reply to you further when I am back to the computer, in about 17 hours from now.
anitaAugust 6, 2019 at 7:59 am #306807
What you want is “a peaceful life filled with people whom I care for”, but you “have been struggling with a feeling of despair, arising out of… lack of strong relationships in my life”.
You wrote: “While growing up the focus in my house was strictly on studies” and indeed you studied well, did college, have a good job, and you plan to continue higher education in another country. Problem is the social aspect- you weren’t taught social skills at home. Not that your parents should have gathered you and your sisters in a classroom setting in your home and taught you like teachers in school do-
The learning of social skills I am referring to is in the very interactions between you and your parents (and their interactions with each other as well as their input into the interactions between you and your sisters).
“I was an intense kid who threw tantrums and became angry at small instances… my childhood.. was spent either studying or playing computer games”- when you got angry at something, your parents didn’t attend to you, didn’t sit with you and asked you what it was about, didn’t suggest to you what you can do to make it better, to solve this or that problem. Instead, you were left alone, not guided. And you probably didn’t witness effective communication between your parents.
You were “heavily socially awkward” at school because you were a socially alone and unguided at home. You were unattended to the way you needed to be attended to. A child needs more than to be told to study well at school, more than food and clothes and a bed to sleep in.
A child needs to feel like he/ she belongs at home. A child needs to feel comfortable at home. A child needs to be shown that he is okay, that his emotions are acceptable. That he can ask for what he needs and to be shown how to ask, and that conflicts can be resolved fairly and respectfully.
“Recently, I met with a couple of my friends from school day. They all drink heavily and have a passion for music”- the reason many young people drink is to belong with other young people who drink. Don’t do that. Don’t aim at belonging with people who drink while they drink. And don’t pretend to like music you don’t like.
“I think that societal pressure in my environment where it was taboo to talk with girls attributed to my repressed personality”- first, people are not born with repressed personalities. Emotions are repressed because of lack of attention- and/or negative attention at home while growing up. Second, you are a 26 year old man. This means you naturally have sexual needs and desires. I don’t know if you received any guidance in this area- what to do with those needs and desires. I don’t know if you were taught- like so many have been taught- that it is shameful to have these needs and desires. This topic needs to be attended to.
“I am a pushover personality and have trouble saying no to people.. But now I have decided to keep a distance from people and social groups which trouble my peace of mind”- the better solution is to learn to say no, practice saying no, becoming assertive. But it is difficult and takes time and practice. There is and is fear, anxiety in this learning and practice, which is what makes it difficult.
“I was heavily socially awkward. I couldn’t make small talk with anyone and was offended easily”- you consider your relationships with your parents to have been good through your childhood, do you? I think they were not. I think that you were heavily socially awkward at home- but you got used to it being the way it was and is, so you are not anxious anymore at home. What happens is that in new social situations, the social awkwardness, or social anxiety, is activated.
If you would like, let me know what you think about what I wrote so far, and we can communicate further.
- This reply was modified 1 week, 6 days ago by anita.