Ashamed of myself in so many ways--it's resulted in overeating, anxiety, low-self-esteem, body-image issues, and a lack of drive. How do I dig myself out of this rut?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (20 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
I'm 19, about to start my second year of college, and have been stuck in a rut for the last two years.
It feels weird to think I'm in any kind of rut at 19 but I went from being a really overachieving, highly-driven high schooler (albiet with the same problems) to beating myself up every day for not being happy and thankful and for being too down on myself to get anything done. I think the issues that I successfully drowned in school came out of the woodwork in college, when I thought I would miraculously blossom into a skinny self-confident flower.
I know I'm smart and driven but I've felt really distracted lately. I worked very hard in high school to earn my own money and get myself into a good college. I'm into journalism so just reading the news used to be exciting--i'd refresh the nytimes webpage like news was breaking and I HAD TO BE THERE. Now I tend to line up articles and not read any of them, or glance at headlines--basically, I can't concentrate, and everything feels like a chore. During school I really struggle to get everything done because I can't hold my attention span. I'll go for walks by myself in the middle of the night to try to clear my head and get to work--it helps my anxiety go away, but when I get back to my dorm, I'm suddenly too apathetic to work. I'm really not as passionate about things even though I know they are things I care about. And I feel really guilty about it, because I worked so hard to get here, and my parents worked so hard to get me here, but here I am languishing.
One thing I used to be able to do was write and pinpoint how I was feeling, if not in conventional human thoughts, in some kind of freaky prose that would make me feel at peace with myself. That doesn't happen anymore. Or for some reason I feel really ashamed to even write down any of these feelings now (I used to write about everything). I can't even be frank with myself in a diary.
I have had problems with my weight since late in high school, when I just stopped exercising because I was working a lot, emotionally eating, and losing a lot of sleep. I used to be very thin (even then I was convinced I was fat) and now that I've put on weight I don't know what to do with it. My overeating happens late at night, sometimes bingeing, sometimes purging--but aside from that, by day I'm fairly healthy (vegetarian, into tomatoes), I just can't seem to stop myself after 10 pm. I've been out of shape and trying to return to exercise for a long time, but it's a lot of run-for-two-weeks and then get overwhelmed by work and stop. It's really hard at school because my college is very athletic but also very small, so basically you see everyone and their mom at the cafeteria, and at the gym. I have spent hours in my dorm scheming the right times to leave my room so I can come in contact with minimal people, so the fewest eyes will see my physical body. So going to the gym is pretty terrifying.
It's accurate to say that as a pre-teen and high schooler I was always uncomfortable with how I looked and managed to demonize my emotions. When I had crushes I hated myself for having them, and eventually extinguished most of my confidence with the reminder that I Am Not Attractive. Here and there boys have professed some type of love for me, mostly friends, and a few men have confused me along the way. I'm not the type to date, unless I'm sure I like someone a lot, a lot, a lot. My first year of college, I tried getting drunk to lubricate both social and male situations but found myself getting drunk in large groups and then leaving parties after five minutes to go sit by myself in a large open field.
This summer I was alone in a city I don't know, interning for a newspaper, and met another reporter who, after about three days, I ended up having sex with (previously: virgin, never been kissed, on a date or in a relationship). We got along okay, but mostly getting along by talking about city news and some personal stuff, there wasn't a strong connection. I was pretty drunk and he pinpointed my worst fears by asking me all these questions about why I didn't like myself, saying I had no reason to be, and even though I'm convinced this was a petty man-trick I guess it worked because I let him stick his dick in me. He told me that he wasn't looking for anything serious before the sex. We continued to hook up for the next month or so. We did go on casual dates but they were strange and almost always ended with sex. I'm so used to being intimate with people strictly emotionally and removing myself sexually, but here I am now engaging in random sex that I don't particularly enjoy, with a guy that I'm not really into. One the one hand, I'm doing exactly what I've always been afraid of, having sex because I have low self esteem. On the other hand, at least during the sex, it's the only time I've ever felt comfortable in my body. So I wanted to end it and would avoid him, but he'd call and that temporary surge of self-esteem would let me say okay. I cried a lot the day after the first time. I told my friends but I never really explained to them how I feel. I have been playing it off as finally satisfying my womanly needs but clearly that is not the case.
Because I should leave myself a nugget of self-confidence, I will say I am a smart girl who likes to help people (too much?), and people like me because I am a funny and indulgent nerd. So I know that. But I've treated my sexuality and my body like a burden, like if I put it away somewhere I'd never have to confront it. But it's been there awhile and I've never been so confused or afraid as to why I have to care about it or desire other people in my lives. I should also say I'm not doing piss-poor in school, but I'm definitely performing way below capacity, and anything I've been excited about in the last few months I have had a hard time throwing myself at. I already have a lot of anxiety about minor social situations, but the sexual tension that seems to soak everything in college is overwhelming.
I don't really know what the point of my question is. I can't talk to my siblings or my parents about this because we don't have that kind of relationship (ie. dad told me I am an elephant). My friends are really great but for some reason I'm not comfortable telling them all of this. This is the first time in awhile I've really put all of this in one place, so I guess I want to know: why do I feel so ashamed of myself, and why am I so paralyzed to do anything about it? Now that school is starting again I'm trying to go into the new semester with a healthier mindset about people and myself and food and exercise so I can stop beating myself up and put my energy into school and positive growth.
I'm sorry that was jumbled, but please give me your thoughts. Thanks.