I am a 27 year old woman who, after spending most of my twenties held back by depression and insecurity, is FINALLY taking steps to improve my personal and professional situation. However, I am battling doubts, regret, self-loathing, and the fear that it's all too late. How do I keep the self-criticism at bay long enough to actually get ahead?
posted by celestine to Human Relations (22 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
I apologize ahead of time for rambling ...
Background: Was artistic most of my childhood, went to school to study graphic design (really wanted to study art, but wanted to be "practical" and choose something that I thought would be more financially stable). Completed my degree, but graduated in 2009, right after the economy went downhill (the design industry was hit especially hard). I struggled to find even an internship after graduation. Eventually, when I was down to the wire, I found an internship at a small not-for-profit which was practically taking anyone with a warm body. Because of the difficulty I faced in finding a design internship, I convinced myself that I really had no talent, and the design field was dying anyway, so I should give up on graphic design (did I mention one of my biggest flaws has always been that I give up too easily)?
I threw myself into the NFP internship, and the staff was impressed by my hard work, so I was hired on part-time as a receptionist. I then worked my way up to a full-time administrative position, and then after about 2–3 years managed to move myself into a full time design and marketing position. I like the work well enough, but typical of many smalll not-for-profits, the pay is awful, the chances of a raise are nil, and the organization suffers financial difficulties. For the first few years I worked there, the financial problems lead to a lot of strife within the organization, creating an extremely toxic work environment. I'm talking about "having to deal with screaming and crying co-workers almost every day" bad. "Constant threats of firing the entire staff" bad. There were a lot of nights I'd come home in tears over how unhappy everyone was, and how worthless the place made me feel. The lowest point was about two years ago, when so many staff members had just quit out of frustration that I was the only administrative staff member left, and was left practically running the organization myself for about 1-2 months. Things have cooled down significantly since then, but money is still an issue.
One good thing during this whole time is my boyfriend, who I've been in a steady relationship with for about 4 years. He is a wonderful, caring partner, and things are pretty great between us.
During this whole time, I was still living with my parents. I brought up the idea of moving out several times, but my mother was very resistant. She suffers from issues with depression and anxiety herself — anxiety issues around money are especially prominent. Because of this, there was always •some* reason I could't move out yet — wait until you have enough money saved to put a down payment on a house, rent is a waste of money! Wait until you have a year's salary in savings! Wait until your boyfriend has a better paying job, or you'll resent each other for your lack of money! My mother is sort of emotionally isolated, and has always leaned on me as a primary source of emotional support, so I was very reluctant to push an issue when I started sensing anger/resistance. At the beginning of this year, though, after an EXTREMELY BAD bout of depression regarding my living situation, I finally just announced that I was moving in with my BF, and that was that. She actually handled it pretty well, which makes me feel like an idiot now. I know I should have (wo)manned up and stood my ground, but I was actually convinced that it would destroy our relationship if I pushed too hard.
So, I'm in this sort of weird emotional situation right now. Since late last year/beginning of this year, I've had this sudden sense of focus. I've recommitted to graphic design, and I'm doing all sorts of things to improve as a designer: self-initiated projects, taking tutorials, learning web design and coding, doing some freelance projects for clients, and getting out a networking. It's like something finally snapped into place and I knew what to do.
HOWEVER, this is being held back by reoccurring bouts of severe depression and self-loathing. I'm talking about "spending all day holding back tears over how much I hate myself" severe. I keep battling thoughts that it's ALL TO LATE. YOU SHOULD HAVE DONE THIS ALL A LONG TIME AGO, NOW IT'S TOO LATE TO CATCH UP, AND YOU'LL NEVER HAVE A GOOD JOB. WHY WERE YOU SO FUCKING LAZY AND WORTHLESS. YOU'RE A LOSER WHO DOESN'T DESERVE TO BE ALIVE. YOU'RE DISAPPOINTMENT TO ANYONE WHO EVER BELIEVED IN YOU. I hate myself for not doing enough to work towards a design career, for not moving out sooner, for not making enough of my own artwork in my spare time ... I pretty much don't see anything worthwhile about myself most days. And worst of all, I'm convinced that it's ALL TOO LATE for me to change anything or to get back on track.
It's getting to the point where every single day is a constant inner monologue of all the things I've failed at. Battling these thoughts is draining all of my emotional energy, and it just keeps getting worse. Most of the time, I honestly feel like I have nothing to look forward too. I'm honestly terrified of turning 30 and having nothing to show for my life. I started therapy this year because the depression was getting to be too much for me, my family, and my BF to handle. I'm trying my best to hold it together for their sake, but I'm feeling pretty brittle.
So, believe me, I know all the things I've done wrong. I'm aware that I'm probably a typical entitled Millenial brat who's made her bed and now has to lie in it. I just want to know if there is still a chance for me to make something worthwhile out of my life? If not, how do I live with myself?