Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché,
When we are younger, family and friends both offer a support to us. Once I left home the only real support web I have is that which I build around myself… usually it’s made up of friends. Friends my own age are all really just dealing with similar problems and issues, no one has any solutions. Maybe the case is different from person to person, but overall, at my age, I guess we’re just trying to build our life and find a way to be productive, be it with a job, building a family or pursuing other goals. But in the meantime- I’m kind of struggling to find myself. At the moment, I don’t have a steady job, I have no steady income, I feel no sense of purpose; it’s a scary feeling. I never felt like this when I lived at home. The insecurities I mentioned, well… I’ve been kind of depressed. And I’ve been trying to reach out to a few good friends, but I find myself censoring the things I say to them. I think my fear comes from thinking, “will they still love me knowing that how fragile I can be sometimes?” Overall, I’d like to think of myself as a secure person, but I still have many insecure or paranoid moments that come up. Insecurity and paranoia seem to go hand in hand.
You bring up some important issues, independence, insecurity, loneliness, friendships, and therapy. You are correct in that you are creating a life for yourself. Creating a life is not easy; it takes time. In order for most of us to do this, we leave our families and homes behind. Along with family and home, we often leave behind friends, unconditional support, and free laundry. Essentially we are starting over and we have to build a new support network for ourselves. In school it’s easy as there are tons of similar aged people all around and everyone is in the same boat and eager to connect. All we have to do is be open to friends and connections and they come to us.
Once we graduate it becomes harder. We once again leave “home”, this time our school. Out in the real world people are busier and don’t have the same immediacy of connection. We often have to go somewhere or join something to meet people. The socially typical places to meet people are often bars and dance clubs. These connections can be unhealthy as they are teeming with sexual expectations and there is alcohol to contend with. You want to make friends and find intimacy; he just wants to get laid. Your job usually exposes you to fewer people than school did, along with incompatible agendas and politics. Can you trust your coworkers not to use your personal life to get ahead of you at work? Can you continue to work at a place where a relationship went sour? Not knowing how things will turn out, we might feel undo pressure to rush, compromise or settle for friends and relations that are not really compatible with our own nature. We, or they, might not have the skills to create warm and fuzzy relationships. If we are insecure we have no idea what we ourselves bring to a relationship so we can not share ourselves, it will be an all them or an all me one way relationship. Your instinct not to share your every thought and every insecurity is a good one; if you do, you will not form equal relationships but instead ones which cast your friends as untrained therapists and set up poor boundaries. Those you don’t scare away will take you on as a project to fix and this will confuse you about yourself even more. So to reiterate: don’t use friends as therapists it’s a bad idea, get a real therapist if you need one. Remember that loneliness is normal… don’t jump into a relationship just to run from it, find someone who shares your values and goals, who can support YOU. A bad relationship is worse for your self esteem than no relationship at all.
Dr. Brilliant Cliché
Granny Dr. adds – Dear Lone; you are facing something right now which is the testing point of every soul: the unknown. You are floundering and can’t get your footing. It’s like falling off a cliff but never hitting bottom. The reflex is to grasp at straws.
If you can learn to tolerate the discomfort of your position and find pursuits such as the acquisition of skills and knowledge to distract you from the hollow sensation of it all, you will be ahead of everyone else in this game of Life as you go on. It is the moments when we are groundless where we are our most vulnerable. Uncertainty is the door to addiction, bad relationships, bad career moves and even crime. If we can build a strength to ride these moments through, we will be able to hold our course through anything.
The best advice sometimes is- if you don’t know what to do, just don’t do anything. Let things calm down, and learn something, read a book, gain a skill. When the time comes to move, to chose, you will know it. And you’ll do just fine.
Dear Dr Brilliant Cliché,
Two very valid points, thank you a bunch. I often times try to play my own therapist, but only ending up being more confused or crazy afterwards. I’ve had the thought of getting a therapist, but actually really afraid of getting one. (Bad experience in high school). Before I get one, I think I have to ready my mind for one. I don’t think I’m lonely most of the time, I think I’m just really lost and trying to find my focus in life. My boyfriend has been supportive; I think I need to be more supportive of myself.
You can only know what you know. That’s why trying to “play your own therapist” does not work. You just recycle and rehash the same things in different ways. You need to add new skills, something new into the mix to get a different result. The only readiness you need is a willingness to ask questions and admit you do not know. The foray into the unknown is best not done alone. You indeed need to find a therapist whom you like and connect with but there is not one truth or one way that any therapist can give you that will create the life you want to have. That is your job; the therapist should provide the tools along with the perspective you need in order to use those tools properly. You should be working toward a future now, because that is where you will “find” the person you want to be. Think of how in 20 yrs you want to have affected people, and then look at careers and life choices that allow that to happen. In this culture, education and skills are what matter and is what are valued and what is necessary. You need to gather and use those tools. It’s important to find friends and relations that are positive and support you in YOUR endeavors. Don’t surround yourself with people who ask you to sacrifice yourself and lose your path. All of this takes time.
When you do find a therapist please do not just rehash old shit in therapy! You can do this on your own just fine; you already know your story. See a therapist who will help you identify your intent, your current skills (for these are what define who you are) and help you to evaluate the people in your life. Do they support who you are? Do they manipulate you to be someone or something else? These are the questions you should be asking.
Good luck in your journey,
Dr. Brilliant Cliché
Granny Dr. adds – listen to Dr. Brilliant Cliché!
Most of us don’t realize it, but everything we do TODAY constructs the future. The present time you are living in was constructed in the past.
If you want the present to be different, it can’t. It will only be different in the future, IF you construct that future starting TODAY.
“I’ll get around to it” is the mantra of people who never change or grow. The road to hell is paved with good intentions that are never manifested.
Don’t worry if you aren’t there yet. Hopefully, you are just at the start of a long life. You sound like a conscientious and aware person.
I predict a great future for you, if you decide to make one.