How to continue when you feel you're falling behind every day?
December 5, 2013 6:22 PM Subscribe
I'm in my mid 30s and feel like life has passed me by and it's too late to fix it. Looking for help on handling the situation so it doesn't consume me. Lot's inside.
posted by anonymous to Grab Bag (20 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
I was always interested in technology and bettering myself as long as I can remember. When I came to consciousness around about 11-12 I started working with computers that eventually led me down the typical geek path of code, technology, etc.
I come from a middle-upper class background somewhere in East Africa, a minority group in the country that has done very well. From birth I have been surrounded by similar people (peers).
I moved to the UK in 1999. Initially it was supposed to be a stint for my undergraduate degree in CompSci, I always knew I wanted to get a university education but my ambitions never really went beyond that. I realised in my undergrad that I was actually quite good at it and through a series of happenstances more than anything ended up doing a PhD in applied CompSci (systems) in a relatively good place.
While I held my own and managed to get the degree I was never really the best at any of it. I doubled down with even more determination, got a post-doc role and worked harder and more intensely. All this was intermixed with the typical geek ambitions of wanting to run my own company, etc. Again, fuelled by desire, ambition, ego and wanting to emulate others successfully in that sort of situation.
It's been over 10 years now, and I'm now in my mid 30s and very confused and disillusioned. I have no house, I live on a per-salary basis, I have no relationship, life has kind of passed me by. In contrast all my peers who came here did their undergraduate degrees and moved back. I'm not particularly successful at anything I do at all (middling). Of all, I feel like I'm in the worst position so to speak.
I understand our circumstances are different. They moved back into family businesses, lots of support, etc. I am pretty much completely isolated here. I have no real friend or relative network. I work to live and live to work. As things get worse, I work *even* more because I feel I should be making more effective use of my time.
Even with contemporaries in the UK (family friends) I find people are able to live much better lives than me -- they are able to afford more, have
their own houses, can go on hoilday, don't live paycheck to paycheck. In short, even if the UK is more competitive and harder, I'm still doing relatively
The major point is I can't seem to find a compelling reason for doing what I'm doing any more. I seem to be doing it more out of spite that I will be successful than an actual love for any of the subject. The only thing that seems to give me any joy is actually writing code which is quickly overcome with the feeling that it doesn't matter because it doesn't contribute to a better life anyway.
In retrospect had I known what I know now I would not have taken the path I did. The thing that kills me is that intellectually I still believe in what I do, I believe in the subject, the area, I believe in doing science, in doing good. But materially life is getting so tight and so painful I feel like giving up, the tune of which is the constant thought that the more time I spend doing this the further back I fall from having any happiness at _all_.
I'm looking for some help on how to handle this so it does not consume me. Or, some advice from people who have been in similar situations to tell me how they handled it. I am very isolated and lost at the moment, and despair is setting in.
I can't help feeling I gambled and lost, and I constantly have to remind myself of the drive and ambitionI used to have which doesn't seem inherent any more. On bad days I have to stop myself thinking that I was stupid to feel I could be materially successful in a first world country and that I have what it takes to be successful and contribute to the cutting edge of science. On my worst days I feel I lost out on way of life and lost out on
another and that's it. Here's where I stand.