Join 3,553 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Ready to retake control of my life.
June 12, 2009 5:34 AM   Subscribe

How can I retake control of my life and achieve my hopes and dreams with a clean slate?

I'm not sure really where to start, but I thought this would be the best place to get some advice from people that seem to be in touch with issues of everyday people. Apologies for the length, I have a lot on my mind.

I guess my main issue is I feel like I'm on the verge of a total meltdown. I have been trying to resolve feeling this way for a while, but I'm afraid if I don't let someone know it will be much harder to fix this in the future.
I'm apart of an organization where therapy and things of that nature is frowned upon, so I'm going to try and avoid it entirely.

Lately I have been in sort of a emotional slump. To most people I'm a very happy, carefree person, but inside I just don't have the will to accomplish things anymore. It has reached a point where I'm thinking about just giving up and settling in the situation that I'm in. I have big hopes and dreams to be successful, but my peers and environment don't really give me the motivation I need to pursue these aspirations. I'm constantly surrounded by people that are wasting so much potential and I have started to adapt these habits. I don't want to be this way and I feel like there is nobody around me to turn to.

Most of my "friends" are mainly focused on just partying and having a good time. Nobody wants to do anything and I feel like there is nobody to relate to. I currently live by myself and it doesn't help that I rarely hear from my parents like I used to. They used to be my main source of inspiration and motivation, but now it seems like they don't care. It feels like I don't have anyone to talk to, so I spend countless hours in my room doing absolutely nothing. I think I'm a very intelligent person, but lately I have just been procrastinating on everything that I know I need to accomplish, but I will find every excuse to avoid it. Especially if it involves my personal goals.

Deep down I want to be more productive and I want to be more content with my environment, but it is hard. I'm not happy with my current job, but the organization I'm apart of is vital to achieving these goals I have. Mainly, completing my degree, so I can't leave and do something else. Once I earn my degree I can move on to bigger and better things.

I just want to have some people in my life that can motivate me and just be there when I need someone to depend on. I'm the type of person that people come to when they need help, but when I need someone, there is nobody to be found. I can't keep pretending like everything is alright when I feel like my world is in shambles. I just want someone to genuinely care and not focus on my shortcomings. I don't think that is so much to ask for.

I just want some advice on ways I can get back to my normal self and take charge of my life and accomplish the things I set out to do. I know it may seem like I'm being lazy or complaining. I'm sorry, but I guess I really don't know what is wrong with me. I'm trapped in a place where I barely know anyone and I have had issues of abandonment in my past and it feels like history is repeating once more. Please, anyone just whatever advice or anything that can benefit me, I'm all ears.


I created an e-mail account for anyone that wants to discuss further. AskMeFi687 at Gmail.com. Thanks
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (26 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
 
Essentially your question seems to boil down to "I want to do something productive and meaningful in life", so I generally recommend volunteering for nonprofits, writing open source software or working on similar collaborative projects and so on. You're likely to meet similarly motivated people in such places.
posted by the_ancient_mariner at 5:47 AM on June 12, 2009


"You are who you associate with. Look around at your five closest friends and that's who you are. If you don't want to be that person, you know what you've got to do."

I think about that quote a lot. Sure, it's not perfectly true (what is?), but it's helped me a lot. Losing certain "friendships" was the best thing that ever happened to me.
posted by milarepa at 5:51 AM on June 12, 2009 [4 favorites]


You might find this and this interesting.... maybe this too.
posted by jon1270 at 5:54 AM on June 12, 2009 [7 favorites]


I can't imagine that anyone will have a slam-dunk solution for you, as you seek. In fact, you have the solution already -- in that you know what you want to do and be -- so why are you looking for other people to give you permission to do it?

Reading through your question, I was struck by the number of instances in which you give your power to other people. For example:

my peers and environment don't really give me the motivation I need

I rarely hear from my parents like I used to. They used to be my main source of inspiration and motivation, but now it seems like they don't care.



You don't mention your age, but I'm assuming that you're somewhere in your 20s if only because the process of individuation (i.e., taking charge of your own life regardless of those around you) generally reaches a crisis point then. Keep plugging, decide how you want to be (which you appear to have done already) and be that. Create your life.
posted by DrGail at 6:03 AM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Being in an emotional slump and lacking motivation can be a sign of a bigger problem, like depression or a life crisis like DrGail said. It's totally normal to have periods like this in your life; in fact, I'm just coming out of one. I think you could really benefit from therapy. Also, I would encourage you to get out of your room. Take lessons on something you want to learn- maybe an instrument, horseback writing, art, whatever. Volunteer somewhere or join a club. Even just doing one small thing for yourself every day (for me, when I was deep in it, it was taking my dog for a walk or wearing something I looked nice in) can get the ball rolling.
Good luck.
posted by emilyd22222 at 6:10 AM on June 12, 2009


seconding milarepa about dumping friends

i felt like you did not too long ago. i had what i can only call a nervous breakdown and got into therapy and was on meds for awhile to help me through the "working it out". i am MUCH better now.

i found out who my real friends were. i moved to another city where my boyfriend lived and started over. i have never been happier. i am meeting people who are more like me and i have found a rewarding job. and i'm not surrounded by people who are drinking themselves to death every night of the week or sitting around watching tv and smoking pot and not doing anything else.

i highly recommend therapy. no one has to know you go. but if your friends are not supportive of therapy, that's a huge red flag as to whether they are really your friends. therapy doesn't mean you're crazy. it means you want to understand yourself better. and there is nothing wrong with that.

it is hard to start over in a small town (which is why i left mine). i would have left sooner but i was finishing my undergrad.

starting over can be lonely, but hopefully you are lucky like i was and have a few good folks in your life who can help you through this time. i, too, do not have family support for all sorts of various reasons.

i suggest that you do what DrGail suggests...create your life. make it what you want. if that's different friends, then so be it. your friends are your support network...if they don't support you, then you need to look elsewhere. if your job or your city isn't supporting what you want your life to be, then you might need to change that too.

it is, after, YOUR life. you have to make the changes you want to see. you can do it! good luck!
posted by sio42 at 6:11 AM on June 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


You sound like you are suffering depression. Go and see a GP.

"I'm apart of an organization where therapy and things of that nature is frowned upon, so I'm going to try and avoid it entirely."

Fuck that, are the people in the organisation actually going to go an sit in on a session with you? Do you HAVE to tell them that you're seeking help? This is about you not them.

That's the first step, go and get your feelings validated by a professional - then start to take steps.
posted by mattoxic at 6:15 AM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


This:

I'm apart of an organization where therapy and things of that nature is frowned upon, so I'm going to try and avoid it entirely.

is completely at odds with this:

It feels like I don't have anyone to talk to

If you are unhappy and the organisation to which you belong blocks your access to the tools that might very well make you happier while not providing sufficient alternative means of support, than that organisation either does not have your well-being at heart or is not a good match for you.

Therapy is confidential. Get some. Use your time there to look at your membership in this organisation, among other things.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:17 AM on June 12, 2009


Sorry, this is really bothering me. You asked:

How can I retake control of my life?

...and every answer I can come up starts with "by not belonging to an organisation that controls your life to the extent that it blocks you from seeking help."
posted by DarlingBri at 6:21 AM on June 12, 2009 [5 favorites]


First of all, don't feel like you're alone. I have felt this way before and know a lot of people do.

Also, anyone reading this question will not be able to completely decipher or understand your problem. So don't get frustrated when answers (this one included) is off subject or non-helpful. People are going to just put this question through their lense and interpret it by trying to relate to their experiences...

In my opinion you need to mentally disassociate with your job and co-workers. They are not you, they do not define you. They are just a means to an end (your degree). I've been in situations where I got caught up in work and started acting like people at work (negatively) and letting little things really bother me. When in those situations I like to look at it like a game that I'm playing, if that makes sense. Never become your job. When I was in school I thought this was a good idea and looked forward to it but it is an empty existence no matter how "noble" the job (damn you Foutainhead / Atlas Shrugged!!).

You're also experiencing some loneliness (the comment about your parents). I know it can be hard to find friends (I only have one friend, my wife) but even a semi-friend who you can't even talk about this type of stuff with is better than no contact.

Also, take a vacation if possible. And don't go to a party location although I'm betting you wouldn't even consider that. Either go by yourself somewhere solemn to refocus and relax or fly down to Haiti or something and volunteer a week. This can seriously change your life. I often think "woe is me" but I doubt anyone with internet access in the US/Canada like us has anything to complain about compared to 99% of the rest of the world!
posted by wolfkult at 6:25 AM on June 12, 2009


Find a way to be useful to other people. That's the one and only key.
posted by argybarg at 7:03 AM on June 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


I have big hopes and dreams to be successful...

How do you define success? Is it wealth, big house, fancy car, possessions, prestige and luxury? If so, I think you're in for a lifetime of how you're feeling right now.
I'd suggest learning to find happiness in small things, most of which are inexpensive or free. Volunteer. Help others. Pick a career that suits you and makes you happy, not the one your parents and your organization expect of you.
The anxiety you feel is your body and mind telling you you're going in the wrong direction. Listen to them and find your own path.
posted by rocket88 at 7:09 AM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


There is one person you can always depend on: Yourself.

Motivation and inspiration can come from within yourself.

I'm apart of an organization where therapy and things of that nature is frowned upon.... I'm not happy with my current job, but the organization I'm apart of is vital to achieving these goals I have. Mainly, completing my degree, so I can't leave and do something else.

This makes me insanely curious! But, if this organization is at odds with your happiness and mental health, drop the organization. There is more than one way to fund your education.
posted by Houstonian at 7:17 AM on June 12, 2009


Flylady dragged me out of one of these slumps. There is no way I could have completed pharmacy school and dealt with the stress of having 2 kids without her. The site is hideously cutesy-poo but you just have to look past that. The coaching she offers is completely free. It is a behavioral approach. A lot of people pay thousands of dollars in therapy bills to get what she offers for free. Seriously, I can't say enough good things about the flylady approach to getting control of your life.
posted by selfmedicating at 7:24 AM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm a part of an organization where therapy and things of that nature is frowned upon, so I'm going to try and avoid it entirely.

That's like saying: I'm a part of an organization where medical attention, dentists and things of that nature are frowned upon. That organization is not helping you at all. But if you want to keep being a part of it, you can go to therapy and keep it to yourself. Therapy could help you with many of the things you say (history repeating, ready to retake control of my life).
posted by clearlydemon at 8:04 AM on June 12, 2009


I have big hopes and dreams to be successful, but my peers and environment don't really give me the motivation I need to pursue these aspirations.

I'm constantly surrounded by people that are wasting so much potential and I have started to adapt these habits. I don't want to be this way and I feel like there is nobody around me to turn to.

I just want to have some people in my life that can motivate me and just be there when I need someone to depend on.

...but when I need someone, there is nobody to be found.

I just want someone to genuinely care and not focus on my shortcomings. I don't think that is so much to ask for.

Your problem in a nutshell is that you're throwing yourself a pity-party. You're blaming everybody but yourself. You come off as a victim and if you continue with this attitude your chances of attracting people that have a zest for life are slim. Maybe you're blaming everybody but yourself so you won't have to try. Maybe you don't believe in yourself.

And newsflash, you can't make people care. They probably do care but it sounds like you are placing on a lot of responsibility on these people to inspire you or stroke your ego. Wah, wah, wah, my parents don't care for me like they used to. Get over it, man. Do you want someone to baby you for the rest of your life? There is only so much people can do.

I'm not sure what you would call an ideal scenario. It sounds like your friends and family are living their lives and you're blaming them for your misery. There is no perfect setting or situation that will propel you into success. Stop looking for this ideal and work with what you've got.

You create your own life. You reach your own goals. Nobody can do it for you. If you feel like your friends are boring and uninspiring, make new friends. Change your situation. Or, how about accepting that life is pretty good right now and do something to add more joy to your life? Ride your bike, take some walks, read a really good book, and do some nice things for other people for the sake of it and stop expecting things in return. Whatever you do, stop blaming.
posted by Fairchild at 8:30 AM on June 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


You don't mention your age, but I'm assuming that you're somewhere in your 20s if only because the process of individuation (i.e., taking charge of your own life regardless of those around you) generally reaches a crisis point then.

Assuming this observation is accurate, my gut tells me you're exactly where you need to be ... or, as I a recall an Eastern mystic type putting it way back when:

"The young man that is not confused is not on the path."

The good thing is that you're self aware enough to know you're NOT satisfied with the trajectory of your life ... and you're committed to doing something about it. Give yourself credit here ...

But I've got my doubts about your commitment to this "organization" and your conformity to its dictates. This does not bode well. Some in this thread have said, "dump your friends." I can see a value that ... but I'd be way more concerned about this organization. Believe me, you care way more about it than it cares about you.
posted by philip-random at 8:39 AM on June 12, 2009


My guess is the organization is the military. That would explain a place where therapy is frowned on and also probably not as private as it would otherwise be.
posted by MsMolly at 8:40 AM on June 12, 2009


Just chiming in to guess that the organization might be either religious or extremely rigid and possibly intrusive socially. As someone who went through a similar crisis, parting ways with any group who expects you to belong and play by their rules at the cost of being true to yourself isn't worth it - ever.

Creating your own life means first recognizing that the life you are creating is truly yours.
posted by Cookbooks and Chaos at 8:58 AM on June 12, 2009


*er parting ways IS worth it, I mean. Need. Coffee. Now.
posted by Cookbooks and Chaos at 9:00 AM on June 12, 2009


If this is the military, the poster may not be legally allowed to get away. Nthing that therapy is confidential. If this is the military, find a way to get off post and don't use the military's mental health care. There are places where you can get sliding scale help. Individual therapists may offer such a financial help. I had two therapists who did this in the (long ago so don't know in this economic climate) past.
posted by Librarygeek at 9:32 AM on June 12, 2009


n-thing everything upthread, thankfully.

Definitely get therapy,
Definitely get away from the mysterious organization,
Definitely look at who you surround yourself with,
Definitely get yourself out of your room and out doing for others.

Your life is yours. Every time you say, "they aren't doing something I need", that means you are fabricating an excuse to not take action. Period. It's egotistical and passive-aggressive. Why should someone else take more interest in your life and your goals than you are?

That sounds harsh, but sometimes harsh is right. I had to learn this lesson in my 20's also, then in my 30's, then again in my 40's and chances are I'll get a million more tries to learn before bedtime today.

Pity-parties are one-note. They're boring. And you're obviously not a boring person or you wouldn't be here questioning yourself like this and seeking help.

But it has to come from you. This is your chance to become a leader, a mentor and a fine example for others who are in the same boat. Don't marinate in vague me vs. them notions. They don't go anywhere and aren't true besides. The only conflict happening here is you vs. you.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 9:38 AM on June 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


Reach out to those who have encouraged you in the past. Why not call or visit your parents, for example?
posted by zia at 12:07 PM on June 12, 2009


Depression. Seriously. Here's what I did in your situation:

1. Bit the bullet and got into counseling. I had to override what people thought, my own prejudices about it, blah blah. My new mantra became: this is what I need to do to feel better. So if others weren't down with it, well, frankly, I stopped caring. I refer to this as the Gift of Not Caring: not caring if my office didn't like that I was taking time off work for it, if my friends though it was weird (they didn't), or if it took up a fair amount of time/money/insurance hassle. Your health is worth it.

2. Found some volunteer work where I'm valued. I stopped basing my worth on my 9 to 5 job, which repeatedly informs me of how much of a cog I am. Now the 9 to 5 is just a stepping stone so I can go do what I really want, which is the volunteer stuff. Day job no longer troubles me = less frustration in my universe.

3. Got physical. I joined a marathon training group, ran multiple marathons, and kicked ass. Also, I bought a bike and rode aimlessly on the trails and just enjoyed the very simple beauty of having no place in particular to go. The beauty of joining a training group or gym or volleyball team or whatever you're into is that you automatically have a common denominator with your teammates: you discuss the game/activity and the friendship flows from there. It's also good to do this because it puts you in the company who are completely different that what you've gotten used to seeing at work.

4. Eliminated numerous annoying, draining people from my life. This included some family members. Tough, but much needed.

5. Forbid myself from hangin' out in my bed, wallowing in my sadness. Nope. Up. Out. Shower. Move. This was very difficult, but I was always grateful I did it.

6. Started doing new things, took some classes, expanded my world beyond the humdrum it had fallen into. Not only did I learn some new skills, I met some new people, and liked having a scheduled class to keep me from sitting still and getting down.

In short, you sound depressed and the difficulty with depression is that the things that erradicate it are the very things you will have difficulty doing (exercising, getting out of bed, meeting new people, counseling/talking).

Good luck.
posted by December at 1:27 PM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


My DD is in year 2 of digging herself out of where she was and didn't want to be, and into a new life. It's not been easy, but it's beginning to pay off and she's happier. Sometimes when you're young, you end up somewhere or with people not suitable to you any more because you've matured. Your outlook and goals changed. No one says you have to stay there (unless it's the military and you've signed up for a term.) The rules in this house are, roughly: take stock without judging or whining, think of where you might like to be (doesn't have to be the final answer), plan how to get from where you are to where you might like to be, revise this until you get a proper fit, do whatever it takes to get there including counselling, retraining, saying good-bye to friends, moving. It is your life, so take it in your hands and make it yours. Even if you have more service to do, start planning now, start dreaming, then start taking baby steps towards where you want to be. If you're stuck for the meantime, use the time to plan as you're going to have to plan how to get from A to B sometime. And don't be too hard on yourself as you cannot change the past. Let yourself free.
posted by x46 at 4:34 PM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


x46 has an excellent point and an excellent post.
There will be times in your life where it will be useful to recognize that you have outgrown circumstances, individual people or even an entire group.
This is not a bad thing. This is you growing into becoming your own person.
Know that this is your path, and go forward.
posted by Cookbooks and Chaos at 6:24 PM on June 13, 2009


« Older Looking for simple job applica...   |  Trying to buy the Hole 'MTV Un... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.