More threads by Dapper Swindler

After all these years, I think I am very close to identifying what my problem is and the symptoms I've had my entire life. It's hard to find a place to begin my life story, but I'll just type and hopefully get it all out.

I've been given lots of adjectives like "shy", "depressed", "introverted", but not I'm finally sure I'm not really any of those things. What I have is extreme dissatisfaction in myself. I live with a crippling ambition that makes it unbearable for me to be satisfied with myself or my life.

Presently: I'm not a cheerful person. I don't smile much, I don't know how to be generally friendly. I don't have social anxiety. The problem is I am always, always frustrated and disappointed with my life and how my life is going. So much that I can't relax, I can't lighten up and be friendly.

Every day I think about how I can make my life better, how I can achieve my dreams. I don't even know what they are, I have so many. Every minute of my day is meticulously planned out in a schedule so that I plan on being extremely efficient in everything I do. Only then can I plan to work hard enough to reach my goals.

Everything I do in life is part of a goal. Reaching my desired occupation, making friends, relationships. None of it is living, it is all goal-oriented.

You might think someone as motivated and ambitious as what I am describing would have a pretty successful life. On the contrary, I am so obsessed with becoming a better person that I am paralyzed to do anything.

I sleep too much. This is because I unconsciously don't want to face the day, I would rather be asleep. Sleep is kind of like suicide. When I'm awake I hate myself for sleeping too much, but during the semi-conscious state of waking up from sleeping, my mind tells me to go back to sleep. The reason is because being awake makes me face to face with my failure and disappointment.

I procrastinate. You might already know this; procrastination is not caused by laziness, it is caused by a fear of disappointment and failure. I have a hard time doing anything because of this.

Multi focused goals. I plan and concentrate on too many things. Being good at one thing isn't enough so I work on many projects. This makes none of them possible to succeed in.

Now maybe if I give a brief history of my life, the picture will become clearer.

I was an odd child. I don't know if it's relevant to go into the details.

Around the age of 7 I became often depressed. Every day at school I would cry. I remember sitting at my desk and breaking down and crying. Why? I don't really remember. It was something about being unsatisfied with myself.

At this age I had my first session with a counselor. After I completed a worksheet, I would go over it with red ink and mark all of my answers wrong and write "F" at the top of the page. Then I would submit it. Doing this enough had me sent to counseling. My counselor told me I was depressed and it would eventually pass. This is the first time I heard that lie.

The next year, fourth grade, I found out that some of the students in my school were attending a "gifted" class on Mondays. I had no knowledge of this before. Knowing that I was not chosen to go to these gifted classes outraged me to know end. I'm sure that was one of the reasons I was crying every day that year.

In fifth grade I was accepted to attend the gifted classes on Mondays. But I wasn't really as smart as the other kids in the gifted class and felt like a failure. I didn't cry so much in fifth grade because I was getting too old for that to be tolerated.

I don't recall much of middle school.

By high school I had developed intense hatred for everyone at my school. I abhorred anything related to school spirit. Thinking back, I'm sure I was just jealous of them because I couldn't fit in.

The only school activity I took an interest in was quiz bowl. A game where a team of students would compete against another team by ringing in and answering questions correctly, like jeopardy. This was a very competitive thing in my school. During my four years, I worked hard to be a useful member of the team. I studied every day after school, learning more and more material to compete. But I was never smart enough or fast enough to be any good. No matter how hard I studied, I was just barely good enough stay on the team while others surpassed me. Every day I was faced with constant failure and disappointment in myself.

At one point during a competition, I had a break down. The next day I was very vocal about wanting to kill myself. My mom had the counselor talk to me. I eventually met with a psychiatrist and tried prozac, etc. None of it helped, none of it made me any less of a failure. They told me I was depressed and it would eventually pass. This wasn't the first or last time would hear this lie.

These are just some examples. During these years there were constant tests and class assignments that tore at my self esteem when I wasn't happy with how I did.

My ACT score was not high enough. I tried studying to improve my score, but I never succeeded in that either. The ACT score became a number which was your value as a human being.

When it came time to choose a college, I delayed that too. I had to get into the best college so that I could feel like I was the best. Of course my grades weren't very good, nor did I have anything else that would help me get into a good college. So I didn't even try to apply or get scholarships. Eventually, I was able to get into a University.

When I graduated high school the only thing I was noted for was earning "quietest student" in the yearbook. I never talked to anyone. I hated everyone and hated myself.

College was murder. Living alone in a dorm among people I automatically hated was too much. It finally got to me that everyone else was enjoying lives with friends and I was always alone. I didn't want to be this way anymore.

Again, I started seeing school counselors and given endless prescriptions for antidepressants. More whining and talk of suicide.

During my second year of college, something happened to me that caused an enormous breakdown. After attempted suicide and spectacle I was immediately send against my will to a mental health facility. I stayed there for three days before the doctors there decided to let me out. I won't talk about what happened that upset me so much but it only relates to this in describing who I am.

Every semester of college I tried a new counselor and a new drug, but nothing helped.

I finally decided to grow up and help myself. I decided that I had social anxiety and I had to conquer it if I wanted to make friends. This is when I started my obsession with planning and scheduling my days.

Deciding on a major was tough for me. Of course I had to decide on something that would make me better than other people. I first thought that Computer Science would be a noble and difficult endeavor. But I was never very interested in that. I liked English and I thought that International Studies would allow me a chance to save the world somehow. By the time I graduated, I had three degrees.

My last year of college I stopped wasting my time with counselors. I was reading books about psychology myself and this was the only time I made any kind of progress.

But when it came time to find a job I was crushed. This is what all this was leading up to, a job that defines my value as a person. I had three degrees but that was all. I didn't have work experience, internships, social connections or anything else. And in today's job market that isn't enough. On top of that, because my education was so diverse I wasn't very good at any one thing. Computer Science is useful, but compared to all the courses I had taken, I rarely kept up with it.

I tried for months to find a job. I read all the books about it and frequently visited my school's career development office. Nothing worked.

After a year of failing at this I decided to move to Chicago where there would be more opportunities.

I've lived in Chicago for 2 months and I haven't even gotten an interview. I work at a minimum wage job. I was supposed to be a gifted child.

I spent my life trying to be better than everyone else, but ended up below them. I'm below average now. I can barely make enough money to stay off the street.

I've wasted my life. I've never had success nor have I even had fun.

There has to be a diagnosis for me. My behavioral patterns are quite clear. I live with constant shame in my life, even when I do okay. I never stop thinking about how good people are and if I'm better than they are. I'm never satisfied unless I feel like I am better. But all this ambition has done is made me worse than if I had no ambition at all.

If I wasn't so depressed, could I have made better grades in high school and in college? If i wasn't so ashamed of myself could I have made friends easier?

I recently heard of a pschological term that sounds a lot like me. It's called an "inferiority complex". Wikipedia: In the fields of psychology and psychoanalysis, an inferiority complex is a feeling that one is inferior to others in some way. It is often unconscious, and is thought to drive afflicted individuals to overcompensate, resulting either in spectacular achievement or extreme antisocial behaviour.

Or maybe that's not it. I haven't been able to find much information about it online.

I'll go into more detail about this after I get some replies.


Reading what you've written, it sounds to me like you're awfully hard on yourself. You ARE the best! You're the best at being YOU. Nobody can be YOU as well as YOU can be you. As human beings, we don't have to be better than other people. We only have to be ourselves, and do the best job of THAT that we can do.

What degrees do you hold, and what kind of jobs are you looking for? I have to assume you're in your twenties, so you do have some time. Many people haven't really decided what they want to do with their lives before they're thirty, or so. This isn't a failure. It's people being people.

I'd say you need to quit trying to beat all the odds and be better than others. You need to put some fun in your life, and work on being the person you are. I've known some really great scientists and some really great ditch-diggers. They're great not because of what they do but because of who they are.
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