Is this all there is?
October 17, 2007 12:41 PM   Subscribe

I am a woman, 49 years old. I am not depressed - my general emotional tone is usually positive and from day to day I move along with energy and interest - but I am having trouble feeling that there's anything to look forward to.

I am 49 and menopausal but otherwise physically healthy. I do not take drugs, and drink sparingly. I am not attractive to men and never have been, but I am not interested in women.

I have no university degree. I earn my living but I just scrape by. I rent my living space and do not drive a car. Due to some carelessness with finances in recent years I lost every penny of savings to the tax people recently and am facing further tax debt but have no resources so will be under a large debt load for the foreseeable future. This will be tricky because I don't exactly earn much surplus.

I have no family and no husband or boyfriend. My parents are dead and my only sibling lives on another continent. I have a few friends but I tend to get drawn into working on projects with people, and once a friendship goes down that route, they're your clients and not primarily your friends any more. And once people are your clients, you have to be a little detached wth them, put on a good face and never let them see any weaknesses.

I feel I'm too old to requalify for another trade and have never had much ambition anyway. So long as the bills get paid and I can eat I don't ask for much more, but I am getting older and am already feeling the exclusion that happens when your work is centred around the computer but you look more like a potential employer's mother than his siblings.

So I feel I am facing encroaching old age in inevitable poverty. Perhaps that's the human condition and I am just feeling self-pity, but I did hope there would be more to life than this. Can a homely middle-aged woman turn this around, or is the best thing to simply give in to the stretch-pants and soap operas of middle age and learn how to cook cheaply for the day I end up on social assistance?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (34 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
So long as the bills get paid and I can eat I don't ask for much more...

The first thing you need to do is stop saying things like that. Look at your post. You have given us almost no idea of what you do have or what you have accomplished in your life. Instead, almost every single sentence you have written is about something you don't have or never did.

Are there things you want? (You better say yes--you better not try to say you actually don't ask for much more than what you have. If you didn't want a university degree, you wouldn't have pointed out you don't have one, for instance.) Then get them. Write a list of goals. Go down the list. Figure out what it would take to get what you want, and do whatever you need.

I can't give you substantial advice about how to reach your goals. For one, because I do not know your complete circumstances. For two, and more importantly, because you didn't even tell us what your goals are. It's not impossible to guess what you might possibly want out of life, but just because of hints and clues dropped throughout. If you think you should be getting more out of life, the important first step is to admit to yourself what it is you want.

My only advice can be about your mind-set. Get out of the rut of noticing all the things you do not have; get into the habit of noticing all the things you can get. Everyone always says that it's never too late to get what you want out of life. The important qualification on that, however, is that it's only true so long as you actually believe you can do it. So, get to it.
posted by Ms. Saint at 12:57 PM on October 17, 2007

Depressed or not, a conversation of the kind that you're interested in having about this can be a great reason to go into some short-term talk therapy. A good therapist will elicit a conversation about precisely the things in your life, and I'm pretty sure they're there, that are worth looking forward to. You may even find, after some conversation, yourself inventing new things to look forward to.
posted by OmieWise at 1:02 PM on October 17, 2007

You sound pretty depressed to me. What makes you say you aren't? Have you spoken to a doctor? Your post is relentlessly negative yet the life you describe is by no stretch of the imagination unusual and you don't mention anything that should preclude you from living a fulfilling existence.

Do you take regular exercise, eat well and have a settled sleeping pattern? Do you have hobbies? Your hopelessness seems down to your outlook rather than your circumstances alone. Lots of people are in debt, lots of people are old, lonely, single, whatever. None of these are reasons not to strive for a better life and have some goals in place, however modest they are.
posted by fire&wings at 1:05 PM on October 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Hey, welcome to 49! In my case, a large part of this feeling comes from looking back on youthful expectations that it was always going to get better. You would always be more upwardly mobile. The next great step in your life was just ahead. And then you find there are peaks and valleys, dammit! And where did that time go?

You don't have to accomplish something earth-shattering every day. But try to advance your life as you advance your age. Of course you know not to go the soap opera route. Eat well, exercise, stay healthy, keep your mind occupied, learn something new, all the stuff everybody tells you. Some days you can't. You don't know why. But if you do the best you can do, you're ahead of that game.

You are not attractive to men? Or you are not attractive to younger or youth-obsessed men? There is someone for everyone. Look around you. Do you not see couples who are not physically perfect?

I don't know anything about depression or therapy or anything like that. To me, you sound normal but stuck in neutral. If you need help with that, get it. Otherwise, adjust your attitude, have an epiphany, broaden your horizons. You can live, or you can wait to die.
posted by sageleaf at 1:19 PM on October 17, 2007 [2 favorites]

i feel this way and i'm only 27!

it sounds like you're definitely unhappy with the place your life is at right now. i very VERY much understand how much money woes can influence your happiness and your day-to-day life. you can't buy anything nice for yourself or even go out to dinner once in a while because every extra penny has to go to pay down the debt. it's not a fun way to live.

perhaps if you got your money situation more under control, you would be a bit happier in life? you could take on a second job for the time being. it would allow you to meet new people (some of us younger folks enjoy talking to and working with "older" people) which also seems like a concern of yours.

do you have a pet? perhaps consider getting one from a local shelter or rescue group if you have the time to dedicate to caring for a furry friend. the huge increase in your happiness and quality of life will more than make up for the small extra expenditure every month.

renting an apartment and not owning a car are not reasons to feel bad about yourself or your situation, even though the buybuybuy american culture tells you it is.

knowing that money is an issue, i'm not going to recommend taking continuing ed or whatever because that costs money and you can't generally get student loans for that. but are there workshops or craft fairs or free lectures or whatever that you could attend? you'll meet people there too and hopefully learn/do something that interests you.

you say you're not and never have been attractive to men. i'm going to assume you mean in a physical/superficial way. from what i understand, looks matter less and less as you get older. perhaps take a dive into online dating.

that's all i've got.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 1:21 PM on October 17, 2007 [2 favorites]

Poverty is so soul-stealing, isn't it? People can suggest doctors and therapists and trips to Bali, but for those who have no money, that's not an option.

For women of an uncertain age, invisibility to the general public and employers is a part of life. Other, wealthier women seem to be able to throw money at it for face lifts and personal trainers, but that's not an option of the poor.

I think the question you have to ask is what is it that makes your life worthwhile, and for some people, that is what they can contribute. Do you have time to volunteer? Soup kitchens, animal rescue, reading to old people? It is possible that you would get a great deal of satisfaction from this. You might also meet other compassionate people who could become your friends.

For other people, a quest adds satisfaction. Can you plan a series of projects beginning with learning? Maybe investigate your local library and plan to learn how to make origami, and then do it. Or decide to learn all of Shakespeare's plays. Or write a history of your town, a better one than the crappy 60s version that's available, that has all the information but no style or ease of reading.

Maybe look into the Quakers. I myself am an atheist, but I saw a documentary on the Quakers in Australia, and was struck by their simple (and cheap) lifestyle, and how some of them work toward a life of giving that they find so fulfilling. Also, church (apparently and please, any Quakers excuse my ignorance) involves sitting together with other Quakers and not talking fo the most part.

Please, whatever you do, not the soap operas. Or the stretch pants.
posted by b33j at 1:28 PM on October 17, 2007

You don't sound so much depressed as like someone who's convinced that the circumscribed life that she leads is all she can ever hope for. I agree with Ms. Saint that you must work on changing your mindset. You say you're energetic and healthy, and you work in computers. You sound intelligent. There are lots of options for such people, regardless of their age.

The therapy sounds like a good idea, but I'd also recommend doing some research, and feeding that brain of yours some exciting new ideas. Order some college or university catalogues, or browse them online. Visit one of the many job search sites and check out all the job openings. Look in your community paper for news of coming events and activities. You're sure to get that little *ping* of interest, that moment where you think, "Hey, I'd enjoy doing that!" And there's your starting point.
posted by orange swan at 1:28 PM on October 17, 2007

join the World Health Organization and go work in some country where you will be making a difference in people's lives on a daily basis.
posted by Mr_Crazyhorse at 1:30 PM on October 17, 2007

I'm a few years younger, divorced, and have a daughter who is just about to leave the nest. I get the same feeling sometimes.

Talk to a therapist. They can be very helpful, and it gives you an accountability partner. They may suggest some groups to get involved in, where you can feel you make a difference.

There are many charities who would love your involvement. Are you compassionate? Do you like kids, in a one-on-one setting? Are you articulate? This might be a fit.

There are also homeless shelters, art clubs, garden clubs, photography clubs... Dive in to something, and you will open your world to new people and new things.

Also recognize that "What's the point of life?" is an age-old question, which anyone can get bogged down in, no matter how bored, busy, rich, poor, happy, or depressed. The point of life... is to live! Start!
posted by The Deej at 1:31 PM on October 17, 2007

A couple years ago I looked around at my life and declared it, for all intents and purposes, As Good As I Get. Which was a relief, and the lack of pressure to do something with myself has brought me great peace. But after a while I realized how difficult it is to persist without SOMETHING to look forward to. That (and that alone) is the reason I became interested in learning kung fu, and also in learning to play an instrument. I've had waaay more luck with the kung fu, but both are simple activities that I can do with little preparation that have measurable payoffs in skill over time.

I like the idea of choosing something that I'm not particularly interested in that I still understand the value of, since it's even more likely to astound me later that I know how to do it at all.

So now I know that even if one year bleeds into the next rather uneventfully, by this time next year I'll be much further along in my training, or will be able to play songs that I never thought I would (I've never thought of myself as a musical person!). It's a subtle challenge that is simply between me and myself, but which has improved other parts of my life notceably and made me less clingy toward the people I know.

Also, getting a pet is really good advice. Studies show that pets help people live longer in precisely this way-- providing purpose and companionship during times when there is not necessarily a human alternative. During the last few months, which have been difficult for me, having a cat to hug or play with (or scold) has helped me keep on going through the motions on days when I might not have otherwise.
posted by hermitosis at 1:36 PM on October 17, 2007

Maybe you could go live on a commune for a while? Check it out, see how it feels, take a complete break from the whole rest of your life, and be open to the future. The one thing about not having much (people or things), is that it makes you really really free. You also don't have much to lose. Maybe try to figure out something to do with that freedom?

For these ends, a pet would be counterproductive, but maybe you could do pet fostering if you like animals. I'm involved with this now and the dog rescuer provides all the food and equipment, so there are basically no monetary costs to me.

I don't KNOW if there can be more for you, but I really really really think there can. Even a little bit more is more. Also, as someone above said, poverty is soul crushing. But having things/success and happiness are not as closely tied as they can seem. This may sound morbid, but sometimes when I'm down, I think of this one alum from my school... he was president of the student body, went on to ace law school, supreme court clerkship, Rhodes fellowship, good jobs lined up. And he killed himself. All of that and for him it couldn't feel enough.

Good luck!!!
posted by Salamandrous at 2:49 PM on October 17, 2007

Agreed on the pet thing, but if you can't afford one or they aren't allowed in your apartment building, keep in mind that many, many shelters need extensive volunteer help -- whether it's walking the dogs or amusing the cats, if you can commit a few hours a week to the shelter, I think you will get much more back than you'd suspect. Walking my dog is almost guaranteed to make me feel better on a bad day, and it's been shown that exercise -- even moderate exercise -- does have a beneficial effect on depression.
posted by at 3:00 PM on October 17, 2007

You sound depressed to me. It is never too late to go back to school if for no other reason than to stimulate your brain. You don't need to go back with a focus on obtaining a degree but you really have to stop settling for just scraping by. Nobody got you into your rut but yourself and your own lack of ambition. Challenge yourself. Go to a poetry reading, run a marathon, write a letter to the editor, volunteer at the animal shelter, dye your hair something to shake up that rut you are in. You are in your peak earning years and your income is only going to go down from here...don't settle for so little. Why are you so willing to have no joy in your life? Go out and grab some gusto while you still can. It sounds like you are just drinking tea waiting for the grim reaper to show up. What kind of life is that? Expect more, demand more of yourself.
posted by 45moore45 at 3:17 PM on October 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Your post is so eloquent and frank, and I know (from the experience of writing a diary) how hard it is to achieve this degree of honesty - with oneself, let alone the public. So I suggest you write a novel, about someone with a life like yours. It will (a) give you something absorbing to do and (b) maybe lead you to imagine future paths through life for the 'heroine'. Judging by your writing, It believe it could be a very good book.
posted by londongeezer at 4:26 PM on October 17, 2007

The tone of your post reminds me of [what I saw of] yesterday's Oprah.

Might be worth a watch.
posted by stuboo at 5:22 PM on October 17, 2007

I agree that you should look into volunteering. The external gist of your question is "What can I do to look forward to and give my life meaning?" Since you don't have children and you aren't in a relationship you need to find some place for yourself where you are needed, wanted and valued. Volunteering regularly for a cause close to your heart might be a good first step.
posted by Brittanie at 5:43 PM on October 17, 2007

londongeezer brings up a good suggestion. How many other people feel like you, and are in the same situation as you? Many, I would imagine. You could be their voice. I suggest starting up a seralized book (otherwise known as a blook) and describe your feelings and experiences. I'll gladly help you with the promotion, so drop me a line if the idea interests you.

Your voice, your life is important and sad and beautiful. You need to share it with the world.
posted by JaySunSee at 7:11 PM on October 17, 2007

This whole question made me feel suicidal, and I'm not even you.

YES, There is more to life than you are seeing! Right now, you are alone and finances are difficult, and those two issues are clouding your judgment when it comes to everything else in your life. Yes, you need something to look forward to.

Volunteering is an excellent suggestion. It doesn't cost you any money, and you might meet people doing it.

You say you can't earn another trade, but you could, if you were motivated, take another part-time job to fill up some of the time that is weighing so heavily on you, thus helping with your debts and maybe, again, allowing you to meet other people.

You could also consider teaching someone else what you know. There are all kinds of programs recruiting professionals into the classroom, and some substitute work experience for a college education. Again, a way to meet people and help with finances.
posted by misha at 7:33 PM on October 17, 2007

Follow-up from the OP

- My only goal is to get out of debt before I die. I'd be willing to
donate a kidney for 15 grand right now.
- I've known depressed people. I don't think I'm one of them. And I
don't see how a therapist or a magic pill is going to make me believe
that something terrific is waiting beyond the horizon.
- In addition, therapy costs big bucks. Which I do not have.
- What is all this talk about volunteering? I am BROKE. I can't afford
to give away blocks of my time for free, believe me. Time is not
weighing on my hands here. I'm not bored.
- I have a cat. She's great.
- I exercise, I eat well, I sleep like the proverbial log. Not problems.
- The mediocrity inherent in the word "hobby" makes me die inside a
little. I have my job skills and I practise an art form. Again, I'm
not in search of ways of frittering away my time. If anything, I need
to find ways to make my time pay more, but am blocked by most
well-paying jobs requiring more formal education than I have received.
- Quakers or other religions don't interest me. Nor do communes. I'm
not looking to join a club.
- The idea of writing a book has occurred to me, of course. That's the
best bit of advice in here, and I thank londongeezer for the thought,
and in fact I thank everyone who responded.
posted by jessamyn at 8:26 PM on October 17, 2007

- What is all this talk about volunteering? I am BROKE. I can't afford to give away blocks of my time for free, believe me. Time is not weighing on my hands here. I'm not bored.

Your question is:
Is that all there is? ... I am having trouble feeling that there's anything to look forward to.

Volunteering = something to look forward to.
posted by The Deej at 9:26 PM on October 17, 2007

Well, you could try a life coach.

I once felt very, very much like you. Not depressed, just...not going anywhere. It seemed a lot of the future was pretty much set (I'm disabled and in debt, and live on $800 a month, with no foreseeable change). I'm creative and I had....good feelings towards people and whatnot, but no ambition. Don't have much money and no prospects of ever having any....a burden that has been there for a long time and looked like it would always be.

I am inclined to seek comfort. I don't require much, like you, just food and life. But there is passion there. If it is just passion for life and a willingness to take advantage of opportunities and choose your own life, then that is enough to work with. A life coach helped me immensely. Unlike a therapist, they don't deal with mental or emotional issues. A good life coach won't steer you in the direction you "should" go, but will help you to discover what that is so you're enthusiastic about it. I'd recommend my own life coach, because she's structured and empathetic and brilliant, and because she's willing to work with broke people like you and me.

Her name is Vicky Jo Varner:

She offers different services and they're conducted over the phone, at your convenience. I am no longer "seeing" her...because I don't have to. I have all the tools I need to live my life as I will it.
posted by Danila at 12:21 AM on October 18, 2007

You know, this is the last thing I usually suggest to people, but I have met some people over the years in their late '40s and '50s (and countless thousands in their 20's or 30's) who have come to Korea to teach English. (I've been here, most of the time, since 1996.)

It can be a nightmare, but thanks to the great respect for age and for teachers (if not for women, it must be said) in Korea, if you're lucky to get hired by a decent school (and it is really pretty easy, as long as you have a degree in anything, no experience necessary, usually), well, it can be a pretty great thing.

The reason I say this is because a) teaching is helping people (and as a newbie ESL teacher you'd be teaching kids, probably, so if you like kids all the better) b) the money can be very damn good. You'll have no housing or utilities expenses, you'll pay 3% income tax, and if, as you say, you don't drink or drug, you'll be able to save US$1500 a month without even trying, free and clear. My understanding is that the IRS doesn't tax overseas income under 80K, if you file. Most schools will give you a return ticket, from where you are and back again, if you complete a contract. You can travel, explore a new country and culture and life.

Me, I love it here, most of the time, frustrated as I still get sometimes.

That said, it's really not all good, and like I said, it can be a nightmare for people who aren't adaptable or lucky to get into a good gig. There have been a lot of threads about it here in the past, and if you're interested, you'll find links to some useful info.

I don't know, it's something worth thinking about, and Korea isn't the only place you could do it.

Seems like $$$ + the rewards of teaching + travel might just kick you out of your rut, maybe. Crossed my mind, reading the thread.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:31 AM on October 18, 2007

My only goal is to get out of debt before I die.

Sorry, but this is a really stupid goal. What's the point of paying off those debts and then dying?

Your goal should be living a fulfilling life. It's your creditors that are making you feel that you paying back this money is more important than enjoying your life. You have no children, no house, nothing that they can take from you. So, you have nothing to lose.

Pay off less of the debt. There are no longer debtor's prisons, so they can't do anything to you except worsen your credit rating, which is already probably bad to begin with. In this sense you have a lot of power over them, so use it to make your life easier.

It would certainly help if you explained just what this work of yours was. We don't know what your skill set is, so we can't suggest more lucrative options for you.

I'm also quite concerned that everyone you befriend soon becomes a "client". You know, you don't have to bring it up. Even if your artwork or whatever the heck you do is the only positive thing going for you right now, you could just be a nice person and have people like you for that. If necessary, meet your new friends in libraries or at their homes so they don't go back to your home and see your work. That way, you can have friends who never turn into clients.

There is probably something like a career center in your town available to those in need. They probably even have a financial counselor in the same place too. So you could get advice on a different job (and I think that's what you need to do now over anything else) *and* debt counseling in the same instant.

Also, please shut up about being ugly. I know plenty of ugly women, really really ugly women, and they married equally ugly men and are now relatively happy with their ugly children. If you are unattractive to men it is your attitude that made it so. It is not too late to find someone.

Think about this: so what, maybe getting out of debt can be this wonderful goal that moves you forward. When (if) you are paid off, what then? You will still have a dull empty life, but without debt. Is that a total improvement? You are here to experience life, not to shift some numbers around the market system. You should be doing something now to become enmeshed in the lives of others, that is the only thing that makes life worthwhile.
posted by Deathalicious at 4:47 AM on October 18, 2007

Also, don't write a book, not until you cheer up anyways. Nothing is more depressing that spending years writing a book noone wants to read.
posted by Deathalicious at 4:49 AM on October 18, 2007

And I don't see how a therapist or a magic pill is going to make me believe that something terrific is waiting beyond the horizon.

Well, what do you think you're going to get from a thread on AskMe?

I'm not sure what therapy would do for you either, but it would give you a place to talk with someone about your life, your goals, your responsibilities, the things that bum you out, the things that thrill you---all with someone whose job is to help elicit from you your version of a good life and then help you to figure out how to live it. You're right to think that it isn't magical, it's actually quite commonsensical. But it's also something that can be very difficult to do on your own, sitting in your room. Good therapists are in the business of helping people change their lives for the better, something that it sounds like you might benefit from.

And it really need not cost much money. There are community health organizations, pro bono therapy projects, and social workers with sliding scales all over the place (although I cannot guarantee that they're near you). The worst that happens is that you don't like it, quit, and your not so great life gets a bit more not so great.

But, let me put it another way, since your update seemed to suggest that you dismissed all of the solutions offered by other folks: What are you going to do to change things? I'm not going to speculate about what's the matter right now, but I feel like I can say with some certainty that nothing is likely to change unless you change it. Writing an AskMe question does not count as changing it. Doing something different in your life does. The answer to "Is this all there is?" is, "not necessarily," which is not the same as "yes" or "no."
posted by OmieWise at 5:56 AM on October 18, 2007

I'm not going to hate on therapy too much, but you need to think of yourself and your future in terms larger than yourself. My favorite quote of the moment is:
"Every individual, I would argue, needs to feel a connection to community, to a history, and to a human project larger than his or her own life. Without this connection, we are bereft of a concern for the future or an investment in the fate of our community. Nihilism is the result; and we see abundant signs of it all around, from the unchecked frenzy of consumption that ignores its likely long-term effects to the anarcho-libertarianism that is rife in the corporate United States at all levels and that values only immediate individual desires."
posted by history is a weapon at 7:00 AM on October 18, 2007

I am a woman, 49 years old. I am not depressed - my general emotional tone is usually positive and from day to day I move along with energy and interest - but I am having trouble feeling that there's anything to look forward to.

You put "existentialism" in your tags there, so I gotta remind you, the existentialist outlook is that it's entirely up to you to create something to look forward to. You're completely free, condemned to that freedom, of deciding what to look forward to or not look forward to. You're thrown into the middle of a world, and you can take advantage of the fact that you exist, make something of it, enjoy the fact that for whatever reason it's happened, or you can sit around and worry over details and wait for someone else to come along and tell you what it's all about (hint: godot doesn't show up).

It's easy to get stuck in ruts, especially in a world where the meaning of things is circumscribed and we live day to day focused on goods, on markets and consumption rather than philosophy and experience. I really think it depresses us all to various extents. Honestly, my thoughts would be to actually think about what life means to you. Do you wish you connected more with other people? Do you wish you invested more time or energy into intellectual or academic work (like finishing the college degree)? Do you wish you traveled or created or invented or just spent more time in the forest?

Figure out what is important to you about your time on earth, and then start figuring out how to achieve it. You an achieve it spontaneously - just drop one life and run off to do something crazy - or you can achieve it incrementally, as a slow moving goal. But you can do something other than continue to wallow in the current situation, even if you're totally broke ... hey, sometimes especially when you're totally broke - see Into the Wild :)
posted by mdn at 7:43 AM on October 18, 2007 [3 favorites]

stavrosthewonderchicken: she said she had no degree. You can't teach ESL without one - it's the basic qualification.
posted by zadcat at 10:27 AM on October 18, 2007

Voluntary Simplicity might appeal to you. Check out Simple and the book, Your Money or your Life.
posted by Lorna at 11:18 AM on October 18, 2007

do write a book (ignore Deathalicious). you might want to start blogging about your life to kickstart the direction (fiction or non fiction) you'd like to take.
posted by mirileh at 12:53 PM on October 18, 2007

stavrosthewonderchicken: she said she had no degree. You can't teach ESL without one - it's the basic qualification.

Sorry, missed that part.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:22 PM on October 18, 2007

No, seriously, do not try to write a book. At least, not if you write it with the intent to publish.

Everything I've heard about serious book writing says two things: first, that it takes a lot of time; secondly, that it is incredibly common to have your book rejected, and this is extremely disheartening.

If you don't have the time to volunteer a couple of hours a week, you don't have the time to write a book. And if you *do* have the time to write a book, you should volunteer instead, because that will mean encountering new people, *and* getting instantaneous, positive results (assuming you choose a non-depressing volunteer position. Things like tutoring kids or ushering at a local theatre have huge and instant positive emotional payoffs).

I *do* think that the blog is a great idea, but write for yourself, not with the goal of becoming a famous blogger or author.

Maybe I'm just "people obsessed" but it sounds like you need friends. Not another thing task you can get hung up on.

Basically, it boils down to this: you do not need another thing that will isolate you from other people and will give you something to obsess and fixate over.

Oh, and missed this the first time around:
you have to...put on a good face and never let them see any weaknesses.

I think this is not at all true. People are human beings first and ill respond compassionately to you if you are having issues. Obviously you can't totally break down in front of them, but hiding all weaknesses from other humans serves only to distance yourself from them and make you feel only more isolated.
posted by Deathalicious at 9:13 PM on October 18, 2007

You can do anything you want if you want to do it for whatever reasons you like. So take a college course because you find it interesting and not because it might lead to something. Just learning stuff cos you can and its interesting has no downside. Or go on a dating site. 99% of men may hold no interest for you but you're putting yourself in the wind for the 1% that could be the best thing ever. wont happen if you're not there.
posted by browolf at 7:46 AM on October 21, 2007

All this stuff about volunteering was in response to the whole, "there has to be more to life" aspect of your question. Which, I think, you worded badly. You seem to really mean, "how do I get out of debt?"

You can save on food costs by going to the Hillbilly Housewife site.

Suck it up and write to your sibling on the other continent or approach one of your friends/clients and ask for a loan so you can pay off your debts, or use a reputable debt-consolidation service, or both.

You don't just sit down and 'write a book' and hope someone publishes it these days. You need to send out query letters with a couple sample chapters to publishers to determine if there is any interest whatsoever in what you have to say. It's all about marketability.

And if you really are concerned about the "I am not attractive to the opposite sex and never have been," consider an attitude adjustment (your post sounds very defeatist and depressing, as does your reaction to the responses you have received). People aren't attracted to other people who bring them down all the time.
posted by misha at 3:11 PM on October 22, 2007

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