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Self doubt and insecurity at 18 years old

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This topic contains 19 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  anita 2 months ago.

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  • #284175

    Joe
    Participant

    Hi, this is my first time post

    I just turned 18 about two weeks ago and unfortunately I feel insecure and scared of the future. I never thought I would reach this point but I feel a constant sense of anxiety and fear. Most definitely I feel insecure about my looks, my intelligence and worth. I am stuck in this constant loop of negative thoughts, thinking about the things I regret, the things I’m insecure of and the future. I notice it when I’m alone and also with people, and feel like Im always trying to get approval and doing the things so people like me . I don’t like my social life, the people I hang out with are great and my friends care about me, but I feel like i have a sort of social anxiety where I feel uncomfortable around people even thought I’ve known for quiet some time. This whole thing only became bad this year,  my previous high school years were pretty cool. I was mostly happy around people I was doing not so bad with girls and my relationship with family was good. But during this same time I think I was already insecure butI think it was more in my subconscious, never feeling satisfied with myself like having a slight case of social anxiety. But somehow now I feel worst and I dont know why, all my friends are growing and are ballin at life, between girlfriends and social relationship, and compared to them I feel like like I sucks everyone’s good energy. I am always in my head and can’t seem to enjoy anything now. I remember a couple of instances when i was hanging out with people, and everyone was having fun and I could just not level to their happy state, it actually happened to me a few times, with family and friends. At those times I feel like there is something wrong with and think that life is too hard and complicated. I remember just thinking about animals that just live their lives without being so self aware and just being able to enjoy the small things without questions.

    I tried to help myself by starting meditation and exercising, but right now I stopped doing both because I did not see any changes in my mindset. I want to start again but really don’t have the motivation

     

    I really wonder sometimes if things were going to be better.

    I wish I could relive all my experiences because they were great on the surface, but I was too scared and did not enjoy them enough.

    #284197

    Valora
    Participant

    First, I want to say that I feel like this fear you’re feeling is somewhat normal at your age, especially for people who don’t necessarily like change. You’re sort of on the brink of it and that can be a scary thing because there’s a bunch of unknown out there. But life and full-on adulthood becomes a lot less scary as you go, and the older you get, the less you care about what people think of you, and that’s an awesome feeling. So far my 30s have been the best years yet, so the best is most definitely yet to come for you, too.

    The first thing to do, though, is to stop comparing yourself to other people. Your journey is your journey and it’s okay if it doesn’t match anyone else’s or if you don’t have or do things when other people have or do them. I’m 36 years old and just started my 2nd semester at college, for example. And that’s okay. I had other priorities to attend to before going to school. My point is, though, that it’s okay to do things on your own timeline.

    As for the fears, anxiety, and insecurities you’re feeling. There are ways to change that. I’ve found that being mindful helps when you’re always in your head and worried about the past or future. Pulling yourself back to the present as soon as you notice it and just being aware of things as they’re happening right in the moment can help, especially noticing things you like or that are pleasant. Pay attention to all of those awesome little things that happen around you at any given moment.

    Meditation is definitely a good thing to try again as it can help you to feel less distracted by training your brain/mind to focus, as well as clearing your thoughts. Even 10 to 20 minutes once or twice a day can work wonders… just do simple meditation, sitting quietly and breathing in for 10 counts and then back out, focusing on the breath, letting thoughts come and go and refocusing on breathing every time your mind starts to wander. It takes practice, though, so don’t expect immediate changes in mindset. Just think of it like an exercise for your brain, training it to help you refocus quickly when your mind starts to wander into unhappy territory.

    There is also a good book for managing social anxiety if you’re up for some reading. It’s called “Managing Social Anxiety: A Cognitive-Behavioral Workbook” by Debra Hope, Richard Heimburg, and Cynthia Turk. There are actual exercises in there that you can use to help change your thought patterns. That should really get you some results on a changed mindset, I’d think.

    Just remember… you are so young, still. There are so many good things ahead of you and I think it’s a very good sign that you have the insight at such a young age to ask for help with how you’re feeling. A lot of people your age don’t do that, even when they feel much like you are now. These feelings you’re having now, if you let them guide you into finding the things that make you feel secure and good about yourself without the need for validation from anyone else… that is something that will make the rest of your life a lot easier. So these feelings you’re having now can be good in the way that they absolutely can help you to have a better life… just have to find the root cause of them and fix that, and if you can learn to do that, you’re way ahead of a lot of other adults.

    #284205

    Joe
    Participant

    Thank you Valora, I appreciate the time you took to write this reply

    You’re probably right on the fact that it’s normal to feel that way at my age and I should own my actions and my journey without caring about what other people think.
    In fact I try to tell myself that other people’s opinions do not matter, but still, I always feel judged and always feel like im putting on an act for other people to like me.

    And as for meditation I started doing it about six months ago, without having a strict routine. I do not feel i had an effect in my mood, but I feel like I notice these subtle thought patterns more than before, but it has led me to sometimes be scared of my own thoughts because they are so irrational and I feel like they’re wasting my brain energy.

    Is that normal in the process of midnfulness?

    And is meditation enough to change automatic responses during stressful situations.

    • This reply was modified 2 months, 1 week ago by  Joe.
    #284217

    Valora
    Participant

    In my opinion, it’s good that you’re noticing your irrational thoughts and are recognizing that they’re irrational. That’s good because that means you can change them. If you know something is irrational you can dig deeper into the WHY. Why am I thinking this? What is it that I really want? If I got what I thought I wanted, would it REALLY help me or is what I TRULY want something deeper than that?  Once you start questioning this stuff and really dig in there and hash out the root, it fixes the cause of a lot of this stuff.

    The irrational thoughts that you’re having is where that book comes in handy too. There is a chapter on recognizing the “automatic thoughts” or “thought errors” as they call them, labeling then (overgeneralizations, mind reading, “should” statements, etc), and then rethinking/rationalizing a more adaptive thought. Once you practice doing this, your thoughts will likely turn from automatically maladaptive to more adative thoughts, so they’re more rational than irrational.  To change your mindset you just sort of have to retrain your brain, and that takes time.

    With the meditation, if it’s leading you to pick out irrational thoughts, it might actually be working. Those bad feelings and thoughts are just there to show you what needs to be looked at and worked on, so it’s not necessarily a bad thing and definitely not a waste of brain energy. Recognizing and acknowledging your issues is how you fix them 🙂 So that’s actually really mindful… to be able to even recognize your issues. (and having issues/bad feelings/irrational thoughts also doesn’t mean anything’s wrong with you… we all have them for different things. Life is a constant state of growth). Maybe try meditation again, a little more regularly for a bit… like set aside 10-15 minutes in the morning to do it and then another 10-15 in the afternoon, same time every day if you’re able to, and see what comes up.

     

    No matter what, be gentle with yourself. All of this stuff takes time. Realistically, you’re at an age where you’re going to care what other people think at least to a certain degree. I think that’s normal, too. My advice is to just try not to actually compare yourself to them (not comparing will save you a ton of suffering), and just keep working on being okay with who you are because the RIGHT people for you will love you for exactly who you are. The right kind of people can really appreciate someone who is genuine, authentic, and loves who they are, so that’s a good goal to work toward… just figuring out who you are for yourself and being that person… and knowing it’s okay to be that person and that you don’t have to put on an act for anyone.  And it’s also okay for not everyone to like you.  One of my favorite quote is by Dita Von Tease and she said “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.”   And how true that is.

    #284285

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Joe:

    “I’m putting on an act for other people to like me”-

    will you share more about that act or acts aimed at people liking you, what you actually say and do during those acts, how do you feel while acting, how successful are your acts)-

    -also, do you live with your parents, and what is your usual day like, now that you graduated high school (college/ employment)?

    anita

    #284311

    Joe
    Participant

    Hey Anita,

    Im in my senior year of high school and going to a college next year.

    I don’t really feel like I’m putting on an act, but I just feel like I don’t know how I behave, like I’m always in my head and thinking about saying a joke or just something to say and being aware of the presence of others. And I’m not always feeling shy, actually I can be quiet outgoing in certain situations but even then I am very aware of people liking me or laughing. Like Ill think: “oh they think Im funny”, so it feels good but not for a long time and when I dont say anything I feel like people don’t notice me. Its weird, but I think Im a little bit exaggerating comparing  to what others perceive, but it still feels uncomfortable and not right, like I was not being myself.

    I should also say that I smoke pretty often with my friends. Usually I would love to smoke it would make things more fun and I would crack a lot of jokes with people. It would help me come out of my head and I would just have a good time. But slowly and slowly I started feeling insecure while high and it reflected in my perception of myself. I think I also became super aware when high and just getting lost in my head and having a bunch of negative thoughts. So now whenever I smoke I feel uncomfortable with people. Even when im sober I feel like i dont really know how hang out with someone one on one. I feel like this made me kinda scared of most social interactions and certainly have a weird feeling about them. I don’t really get stressed when sober but I feel kinda hollow and missing personality. I think I still come off as normal to people but its sure is a struggle inside.

     

    #284319

    Lauren
    Participant

    Joe,

    I totally hear you. As other people have pointed out these are completely normal feelings for your age.

     

    If it’s any consolation people who are “balling” at 18 I’ve found many time were peaking early. By the time they were 30 many of these a-holes had terrible skin and an alcohol or drug problem. By the time they were 40 they were in a miserable relationship if not divorced and looked like hell.

    What I got from this is that those who don’t quite fit in, who have to make an effort to find themselves and their community are MUCH better off. You make choices because they are right for you and discover where you should be and what you should be doing. This is a much better life. It’s harder in some respects, but early signs of aging, alcohol bloat, and drama-filled divorces are a lot uglier. Finding your way to a better life will leave you better off. Keep searching.

    #284323

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Joe:

    The way I understand it you are most often uncomfortable with people, worrying that they are not thinking well of you, thinking that you are not good looking or not smart or not funny or interesting..  or worse, that they will not even notice you. So you sort of mini-panic when around people, your mind rushing, planning what to say next that will be smart or funny.

    It is anxiety, that very uncomfortable feeling that makes us feel that there is something wrong with us or about us … and other people are noticing!

    It will be nice if you could be calm and comfortable, when alone and when with people, and it is possible for you. When calm and comfortable, you will actually listen to what people say, instead of planning what to say next. You will sometimes forget yourself, totally engaged in what is going on, listening and talking, feeling equal to others, not less than others and not in a competition.

    I will soon be away from the computer and back in about 13 hours. I hope to read more from you when I am back and I will reply further.

    anita

    • This reply was modified 2 months, 1 week ago by  anita.
    #284327

    Joe
    Participant

    Anita,

    This is exactly the stage I want to reach, but it seems so far and unreachable. I would like as you said to feel equal to people and be able to listen to them and appreciate them, rather than worry too much about myself.

     

    #284337

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Joe:

    If you would like to tell me more about your life at home, particularly about your relationships with your parents, past and present, it will help me understand better and maybe offer you something potentially helpful about making that “far and unreachable” aim close and reachable, a reality for you.

    If you choose to share, take your time doing so. I will read and reply in about thirteen hours.

    anita

    #284343

    Joe
    Participant

    Sounds good,

    So my relationship with my parents is okay, I dont feel that close to my stepdad (who is like my dad) and I’m kinda disconnected from the rest of my family because I left my home country about 6 years ago. So when I see them we’re not as close as before.
    Ive had some rough moments during my high school year where Ive been caught smoking and doing other things which affected my relationship with my parents. I was angry at that time but still had a pretty good relationship with them. Now I often feel depressed and don’t really feel like hanging out with my family, like when they want to go the beach or to a barbecue. I mostly see them during dinner, the rest of time Im either with friends or in my room. I have a little brother and a little sister who are 7 and 11. I love and care about them a lot but don’t really like the childish atmosphere of the house most of the time and Im often annoyed by the stuff my brother says or even the way my dad tries to act cool. My mom is very loving and caring and shes always asking me how I feel. She wants to help me and is looking for therapy.
    As for the rest of the people I see, like my parent’s friends, who for some I traveled with and Ive known them for a long time, I feel like I dont have a close relationship with them even though I should. I don’t really like talking to adults because I often feel uncomfortable and almost never ask them about themselves.

     

    #284347

    Joe
    Participant

    There is also something else that I want to talk about, ( and it annoys because I feel like im rumating), but I think I should acknowledge the fact that I have been very insecure about my nose since freshmen year. Back then it was not that bad, because I would just notice a hump (which was probably cause by playing rugby)  through a certain angle in photos. But during sophomore year I think my insecurity grew bigger and would get paranoid when I was high. I was obsessed with it and could not see anything else but that. I think this came around the same time that what I feel like social anxiety. I became so obsessed with it I would put ice on it in the hopes of straightening it and would also massage it. As time went by I felt like the hump on my nose got bigger and I didnt think it was in my head, and that I somehow made it worst by trying to fix it. So now when I look in the mirror I feel like there is something wrong with it. During junior year I was insecure about it, but at the same time I knew girls thought I was pretty good looking, but this year I’m barely attracting any girls and feel like I became uglier. So I dont really think about it often but I dont like too much what I see in the mirror. And sometimes I would tell myself that it was my fault that it happened this way.

    Its very annoying because adults tell me Im good looking, but at the same time I dont see that all when looking at myself in the mirror. Its not that Im being a perfectionist and pointing out the small details, but I really think that my nose ruins my face and I cant get used to it.

    This is probably one of the things that affected me and made me lose some of my confidence.

     

    #284415

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Joe:

    Regarding your anxiety and your nose: first came the anxiety, then it attached itself to  your nose. It is very common, people’s anxiety gets fixated on a facial or body feature and stays there. It seems like if only the particular physical feature got fixed or disappeared, then the anxiety will  be gone. But not so, because first came the anxiety, then came the focus on the physical feature.

    Regarding your relationships with your parents: you wrote that you left your home country six years ago, at about 12, that means you lived for a while away from your parents, with other family members?

    You now live with your step father, your mother and two siblings. To the best of your knowledge, what does your step father think about you? Will you let your fingers type without much thinking, answering this question?

    anita

    #284419

    Valora
    Participant

    There is also something else that I want to talk about, ( and it annoys because I feel like im rumating), but I think I should acknowledge the fact that I have been very insecure about my nose since freshmen year. Back then it was not that bad, because I would just notice a hump (which was probably cause by playing rugby)  through a certain angle in photos.

    If it helps you any, I was insecure about my nose when I was your age, too. Mine is very small but is what I call “ski slopey.” I have a bump at the bridge that slopes down and then the tip of my nose turns up a little bit at the end but it’s quite noticeable from my profile because of the bump. I felt weird about it…. but then I had 2 kids who both have my nose and I love it now because I think their noses are cute on them… so  that means mine probably doesn’t look so bad on me either.  It just goes to show how we can see things on ourselves that we don’t like but when we see the same things on other people, we realize they’re actually not as bad as we thought…. so it’s probably not your nose that’s the problem, it’s just the way you’re viewing your nose.

    During junior year I was insecure about it, but at the same time I knew girls thought I was pretty good looking, but this year I’m barely attracting any girls and feel like I became uglier.

    It’s likely the girls are sensing your insecurities rather than anything about your facial features. I’m sure your physical attractiveness hasn’t changed much in that time, but confidence is emotionally attractive, so if you can get back to feeling like you look good and you like what you see and how you feel, I’m sure you’ll experience a turn-around when it comes to attracting the ladies.

     

    #284493

    Joe
    Participant

    Wow first of all I, I want to say that Im grateful that you guys are helping me with my problems

    And to respond to the question about my home country, which was France, I lived their with my step-dad and my mom too, my father died when I was young and my parents were already separated. So I consider my step-dad like my dad. I know he cares about me a lot, and I used to always have fun with him. But lately I have not been able to have the same feeling, its weird because I know he is super nice and smart, but I feel like we dont really have a connection. I don’t really like hanging out with him, I get annoyed by him sometimes just by the way he acts or tries to be funny but I dont say anything because hes just trying to be friendly.

    I wish that this feeling of irratation would go away and I could appreciate him a little more.

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