I gotta admit that reading webcomics is my primary tool to keep me from thinking about all the stuff I should/have to/want to do but this page has some truth to it: The human brain is wired up to interact with others. And while it improves my mood to be around other people I spend most of my time alone because I got into my head I’m only a burden, a broken tool of very limited use and I shouldn’t bother other people with my presence.
I managed to get back into a weekly roleplaying group and I don’t think I’m a burden to them but in most places I only get along with people on a very casual, smalltalkish level because anything important to me just weirds them out. I know a hackerspace where this won’t happen but I got an annoyingly persistent crush on one of the core members so I prefer to keep my distance because I’m way to messed up anyway. I can’t handle my own freaking life why the hell should I drag someone else into this mess?!? Won’t keep me trying to flirt with cute collegues… I’d love to get rid of this stupid urge to mate and procreate. Just turn me into a mindless working drone without any needs but serving the hive and let me work myself to death… *sigh*
Tryin’ to give this thing a little more productive spin: I guess I managed to accept the existence of those needs (good food, a meaningful job, having a social life,…) but I just can’t acknowledge some of them at the same time because it’s to difficult to change something about them.
Hey man. What you just described is social anxiety. We all have it to some degree. The thing to remember is:
Most people don’t care about you, therefore, you aren’t a burden to them. People think about you a lot less than you’d believe. As much as you think about yourself, that’s what others are doing as well. People are pretty self-centered (and rightly so).
You’re not a burden to anyone, and you deserve to date. If it doesn’t work out it doesn’t. The trick is to find something you appreciate about yourself, be those things, and look for companionship in others. Don’t worry about how “messed up” your life is. People will accept faults. No one’s perfect.
Well, besides the fact that some part of me refuses to accept your reply, @Tebbo (especially #2 - big thanks anyway ; )), this still doesn’t feel right with the infos I found on social anxiety…
I guess social anxiety was a major problem in my childhood and youth. I first wanted to write only the thought patterns stuck but when I’m down or (mentally/emotionally) exhausted I try to isolate myself because it’s to tiring to deal with other people (even just getting rid of them) and I can’t see any benefit in social interaction anymore. But that’s build on the experience noone around would understand me anyway so I currently can’t figure out what how those parts fit together.
Meh, getting too tired to think…
PS: Anxiety and Bipolar Disorder on PsychEducation.org was somewhat useful…
Yeah man. If it’s that much of a burden for you, get some professional help. I did, and it’s slowly starting to help.
Yeah, these things are true for everyone, so don’t let anyone tell you different. It’s ok to isolate yourself every now and again. I need lots of alone time personally and I get frustrated and annoyed if I don’t get it. There is a benefit to social interaction, but that benefit MUST come on your own terms. As for people not understanding you, I don’t think that’s possible. Sure, there is some ephemeral self that we all have that can’t be contained by definition, but that’s ok. People can empathize on a human level with each other. That plus some companionship is all I’ve ever needed from anyone anyhow.
Not understanding me not possible? Hm, I couldn’t get the fact that pen & paper roleplaying (you know, dice and handwritten notes and storytelling) has nothing to do with computers in my previous therapist’s head…
Well, finding the third one wasn’t as difficult as finding the second one after the first one told me what he does won’t get me anywhere and statutory health insurance won’t pay another term of this kind of therapy… So yeah, professional help helps a little but it’s mostly an emotional waste dump where I can rid of some crap.
(Gotta admit I’m not in a positive mood today…)
Yeah man. I’m very pragmatist in that sense. Whatever’s useful. That’s what’s most important.
I’ve had some pretty similar self-criticisms over the years. The absurd thing is that it took a few big social “successes” for me to finally peel the onion back enough to realize that all my ideas about being a burden, annoyance, unattractive, etc had absolutely nothing to do with the opinion or experience of other people. Their actual experience and opinion of me has nothing to do with it, and no effect at all on me. It’s just a twisted Theory of Mind.
Since you don’t actually have the ability to read the thoughts and emotions of others, you create a best guess model based on social queues and the way your own mind works. Problem is,even when you intellectually understand that someone else doesn’t think the same way you do, your brain still doesn’t really want to believe that. Your point of view on reality is so obvious, it’s hard to convince it that others might not see it, too.
For example, I don’t think I’m physically attractive. Not because of any particular societal convention, but because I do not meet the standards of my own personal definition of esthetic beauty. The problem is that, because my assessment of my body is not based on the opinions of others, it’s also not effected by expressions that contradict that assessment. No amount of compliments, getting hit on, or any other positive feedback will make me feel good about myself, because every time I look in the mirror, I can see that they are “wrong” and are somehow missing all of the obvious flaws that invalidate their opinion. I feel like I’m taking advantage of someone if I’m in a relationship because I’m just using them to get what I want until they finally put on their glasses and actually look at me and realize all the obvious flaws that they overlooked. I also feel like they must not really be paying much attention to me if they haven’t already noticed these things yet.
The same thing goes for how interesting or enjoyable your personality is, the quality of your work, how worthwhile your hobbies are, etc. If you don’t meet your own standards, nothing else will have any lasting impact, and you’ll feel either like a failure or a fraud trying to live only by the standards of others. If you’re prone to idealism or absolutist thinking (especially common for the binary thinking of developers), there’s a pretty good chance that your standards will be impossibly unrealistic.
It’s not an easy problem to fix, and I don’t know if even understanding that it exists will help you, but I can at least suggest to you that getting those annoying and inconvenient meatsack needs met is completely separate from how you feel about your worthiness as a human being and the worthiness of others. If someone is willing to provide you with something you want, and you didn’t do something deliberately misleading or unethical to get it, there’s no real reason not to accept it, even if you think they’re stupid or masochistic for doing so. They chose to accept it, good and bad together. EVERYONE is broken in some way or another. It’s merely a question of finding a compatible kind of crazy (this applies to friends as well as relationships). Deal with your opinion of yourself and your problems separately. They’re hard enough on their own. Don’t let them deprive you of any other pleasures or requirements in life on top of it. Life provides more than enough suffering to you without your helping it.
You also sound like you might be a natural introvert as well. If that’s accurate, keep in mind that you need a lot more rest and alone time to recover from socialization than most others, and pushing yourself to try to keep up with extroverts will only make you even more miserable and exhausted and overwhelmed.
As to therapists and the like, I have found that the more intelligent and self-aware you are, the harder it is to find a good therapist that can keep up. Not only do smart people think too damn much, you practically have to write a mathematical proof to convince them of something! So far, I’ve found the majority of utility from them as objective sounding boards to provide a different point of view without having to worry about them blowing you off for rambling at them for an hour. But you really need to supplement them with other people who have the necessary background to actually understand what you’re talking about. A therapist is just as prone as anyone else to have their eyes glaze over when you start spewing technobabble in an area they know nothing about.
Wow, that came out to be a lot longer than I intended. I hope it was at least marginally helpful.
One of the best quotes I’ve read recently was, and I’ll paraphrase, “Love isn’t your reward for being perfect, it’s your reward for being human.”
There is a toxic notion in a lot of self-help literature that you have to be absolutely perfect before you’re worthy of dating or even having friendships. And while it’s true that certain configurations of attitude and mental illness will make relationships difficult if you’re constantly hurting other people, by and large it’s a load of horse shit. I never feel closer to someone than when they reveal they’re fucked up in the same ways I am.
That being said, if you’re really in pain there’s nothing wrong with just focusing on yourself a while, through therapy or whatever. The flipside is that rushing to be in a relationship probably won’t fix things either aside from the brief chemical/hormonal high. But don’t let depression and illness tell you you don’t deserve it. I know it’s tough though, I deal with the same thing all the time.