How do you just move on with your life and grow up?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (34 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
I'm 25 right now, but I feel as though I'm stuck at 16. It was sort of a case where two roads diverged in a road (to quote Robert Frost), and I took one path, only to regret not taking the other.
I decided to go into a health sciences field in high school when I would much rather (and my talents and abilities and interests seem to indicate) have gone into the arts (such as writing). There were a bunch of extraneous factors involved, such as parental/cultural pressure and such. So I entered a professional undergrad program and failed out five years later--I couldn't handle the pressure and my inner conflicts. I was very passionate about writing and literature also and saw it as a big part of my identity, and trying to pursue that along with my real studies (they involve two completely different ways of thinking) meant I made sacrifice after sacrifice in my personal life for success in my program, and it took its toll, I guess. I switched to English, graduated, and now I don't know what to do with my life.
I can't seem to move on from that period of my life when I made the choice. I was pretty spirited and full of opinions and plans and dreams back in high school, but now I'm broken? I spent my last uni year almost physically sick from memories of my previous years in that program, and I haven't been interested in anything since the switch. I didn't make a friend while I was in the professional program, and the people I consider friends are those from my high school days--and they've moved on. They live the kind of lifestyle that I think I would have followed too if I had taken that first path. I think there's envy involved, because it's what I aspire to and want for myself, but they're not talking to me now anyway, because their own lives and group of friends had evolved in the meantime.
I also spent all my time studying, so I'm really lacking in the social skills and general knowledge that one typically picks up around this time. For example, I'm really uneasy around alcohol, because I'm completely inexperienced with drinking and feel very embarrassed about making goofs when I try to order a drink at a bar. Personal development is also a little lacking; I basically lived in a cave, and it seemed all my growth had stopped then, including branching interests. I didn't have time to pursue my own interests or make new ones; consequently all my interests are those that I had at 16 (I was a nerd, so it's not too bad; art and writing and history and psychology), but that doesn't mean they're valid or right for me now.
I was depressed throughout those years and suppressed who I was and my real thoughts and feelings about everything. It's only in the last year, now that I'm finished school, that they're coming back.
I saw a counsellor, but she seems to think I'm all right and simply blowing things out of proportion. The people who know about this really do think I'm making a big drama out of it all. They don't take me seriously when I try to tell them how I really felt during those years. I think it's a problem because a) I really do feel stuck, b) I can't seem to relate to or see my friends except how they were in high school, c) everyone around me _treats_ me like a 16 year old and they can't seem to relate to me in any other way--that includes relatives, parents, friends, and acquaintances. Along with the assumption is also that I think like a 16 year old, and that's definitely not true.
I'm not immature--I'm very perceptive about myself and I can take care of myself extremely well. I come across great in writing. I also have good insights. But when it comes to exchanges with the world and inter-personal relations in general, and showing myself to the world, I'm about the most stupid person that I've ever come across (I'm socially awkward and can't read cues very well. For example, I only learned not to take people's words at face value at 22--that was a harsh lesson). I've been looking for a job for six months without success, and I think this probably has something to do with it.
I don't exactly know how to deal with this. I think the past 7 or 8 years in virtual isolation had done something to my brain. It's like I have a replay button, and the only things that I respond to are those things that I responded to at 16--but I'm not learning anything new and I'm not interested in anything new. The world reads like I went to sleep in 1998 and woke up in the mid-'00's. I just want to keep going back to who I was and try to move on from that persona--but circumstances have changed (heck, this isn't high school anymore, or even uni), my circle of acquaintances have changed, and I've changed--I'm an adult now. I tried doing something adventurous like go backpacking solo (to teach myself independence), but it's effects didn't last long.
I feel like a basket-case and like life is passing me by, and I hate it. What can I do to get out of this? How can I go about learning all this stuff I seem to have missed during what apparently were formative years, or skip it altogether and just live as my 25 year old self?