Young man stuck in a mental rut, please advise.

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Young man stuck in a mental rut, please advise.

Post by BobTheNinja on Tue Mar 31, 2015 3:34 am

Hi everyone. I'm new to the forum, but I've read some of the articles on Dr NerdLove and they've resonated with me. Still, I've had some ongoing problems in my life and I figured it would be a good idea to talk it through with others who've wrestled with that kind of thing before. Looking forward to talking with and getting to know you guys. Smile

Okay, where to begin...as of now, I'm 22 years old, having just moved out of my parents' house a little under 3 weeks ago. I graduated with a degree in Political Science in May of 2014 with zero student debt (thank god for my parents' planning ahead), and I've held onto a full-time retail office job for about 9 months now. I have a driver license and a decent car of my own. I'm well on my way to becoming fully independent at this point. All things considered, I'm doing freaking great. Life could be a hell of a lot worse, and I admit that I often fail to appreciate that.

Despite this, I've been struggling with certain aspects of myself for a while now, and I haven't had much progress moving beyond them. Chief among these are anxiety, risk aversion, and procrastination, along with some degree of low self-esteem and escapism. In particular, procrastination and escapism have been with me ever since my early teenage years. I got really into video games, anime, fanfiction, and surfing the internet, and I often let myself get distracted doing those things instead of focusing on completing whatever boring or unpleasant task assigned to me (school, chores, etc). I still got work done, and even made good grades, but often got things done in a rush at the eleventh hour. This trend continued into college, and as a result of this habit, I didn't feel the motivation to venture out of my comfort zone. Sure, I joined the university video game and anime clubs, but I rarely ever went out with friends to hang out downtown, nor did I participate in university events where I could meet and mingle with other people. I didn't go to any fabled wild college parties either. Instead, aside from regular club meetings, I mostly spent my time in my dorm room, playing around on my computer.

As a result, my dating life is essentially non-existent, and I've yet to lose my virginity. There were a couple of girls that I asked out in college, but both of them turned me down (one had a boyfriend already and another just wasn't into me). Those rejections weren't massively painful for me either, perhaps discouraging, but not devastating. I certainly thought that hooking up with someone would be nice, and even experienced lovesickness several times (especially after hearing some couples going at it through the dorm walls), but I never worked up the motivation to do something about it. It was much easier for me to just do what I always did.

Fast forward to the present. In my job, I regularly interact with people who've had a lot more experience with dating and intimacy than me, and I started feeling inadequate in comparison. I felt regret for not being more socially active in my college years, and now I feel that I'm way behind the power curve compared to many of my peers. I've come to fear my lack of dating experience, and I'm afraid that I'll screw up and embarrass myself and the person I'm trying to attract. Complicating matters is the fact that I'm not sure whether I want an actual relationship or just casual sex. I would say that I lean more toward casual sex right now, but I can't say that with complete certainty. I also think that an open relationship would be much preferable than monogamous one, despite never having even one regular partner. It's just a whole mess of uncertainty, and it doesn't help that up to now, I've satisfied my desires with erotic videos, animation, art, and stories, ranging from conventional to outright fantastical, as well as cybersex with like-minded people. I don't think there's anything wrong with that, but I realize that the ideals in those mediums aren't indicative of what to expect in real life intimacy. I also know that losing my virginity isn't going to change my life forever or solve my personal issues, but it's still something that I feel like I'm missing out on, and I want to experience it.

The stress and anxiety induced by my job hasn't helped either. The first few months few months were a rough start, and I had a looming fear of being fired for a few months. I'm doing a lot better now, but I still have some difficulties, and I'm pretty sure that a lot of my problem is that this job ultimately isn't for me; it's a holding pattern until I can move onto something better and more satisfying. The stress from the job spills over and mingles with the negative baggage I feel about dating and intimacy, and together ultimately feeds into those old, familiar habits of procrastination and escapism. I don't want to face the risk of putting effort into socializing more and asking girls out only to embarrass myself and get rejected, so instead I fall back on web-surfing, gaming, reading, and other distractions. But procrastination comes with it's own cost, always has. Inevitably, I feel that gnawing awareness in the back of my mind that I should be dealing with the situation instead of screwing around on the computer.

It's even worse now that I've graduated and have a job. I've come to also feel shame and anger at myself for constantly giving into to these old familiar habits, and yet I still can't summon up the motivation to break through these internal barriers and get shit done. AND I know from my readings online that carrying all of these negative emotions will hurt my dating chances. Yet more negative emotional baggage piles up. It doesn't happen all the time, but some days I feel so much helpless anxiety and self-anger that I break down in tears. I swear to god, it's like puberty held back on all of the mood-swingy angst until now, right when I'm supposed to be living it up and celebrating my near-independence as a young man.

It's a big, stinking Catch-22. I know that if I want to get better at things like dating, I'll have to put myself out there and mix it up, and I'll have to work past both my fears and my desire to stay in the comfort zone...but I don't feel like doing all of that shit. I just want to sit my ass down and watch funny YouTube videos. Plus I hate the prospect of failure. It's embarrassing and sucks balls. Pain bad, internet good.
The worst part is that I KNOW all of this is between my ears, and that failure sometimes happens and shouldn't be perceived so catastrophically, but rather as an opportunity to learn and improve. I also KNOW that I'm nowhere near hopeless or helpless, and that with some effort and practice, I could probably meet a nice girl who likes me without a huge amount of difficulty or fuss.

So yeah, my problems are two-fold: First is that I recognize several of my issues and challenges, but I've yet to work up enough personal drive to confront and overcome them, and I seem to be stuck there. All the awareness in the world won't do me any good if I can't (or won't) take consistent action to improve in those areas. Second is that I haven't been able to work out exactly what kind of intimacy I really want, whether it's casual sex or an emotional relationship.
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Re: Young man stuck in a mental rut, please advise.

Post by jcorozza on Tue Mar 31, 2015 11:16 am

Well, not to always use this as a solution, but a therapist can really, really help with the whole anxiety thing, and I think that will make a lot of the other things you've been dealing with easier (the work stuff, going out an meeting people). That might also help you figure out if you're looking more for relationships, or for casual sex - that's an important starting point.

Do your coworkers regularly talk about their sex lives? I've definitely been at jobs where there was a lot of relationship-talk (right now, almost all of my coworkers are married - though I'm one of the younger folks), but never much about sexual experiences. Also, keep in mind that a lot of people who talk about their sex lives regularly...are exaggerating. Most people who've had experience don't feel the need to brag about it to others - talk about it with close friends? Sure. But coworkers? This seems less likely. You mentioned working in retail - do you work with a lot of teens/younger people? They can be less than subtle about these things...
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Re: Young man stuck in a mental rut, please advise.

Post by BobTheNinja on Fri Apr 03, 2015 12:24 am

jcorozza wrote:Well, not to always use this as a solution, but a therapist can really, really help with the whole anxiety thing, and I think that will make a lot of the other things you've been dealing with easier (the work stuff, going out an meeting people).  That might also help you figure out if you're looking more for relationships, or for casual sex - that's an important starting point.
I'll see what I can do on that front.

Do your coworkers regularly talk about their sex lives? I've definitely been at jobs where there was a lot of relationship-talk (right now, almost all of my coworkers are married - though I'm one of the younger folks), but never much about sexual experiences.  Also, keep in mind that a lot of people who talk about their sex lives regularly...are exaggerating.  Most people who've had experience don't feel the need to brag about it to others - talk about it with close friends? Sure.  But coworkers?  This seems less likely.  You mentioned working in retail - do you work with a lot of teens/younger people?  They can be less than subtle about these things...
Most of them are younger folks, early twenties usually. Some of them have discussed it occassionally, but it's not a regular thing. I also notice the contrast in how comfortable a lot of them seem in their own skin, if that makes any sense.
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Re: Young man stuck in a mental rut, please advise.

Post by reboot on Fri Apr 03, 2015 12:38 am

[quote="BobTheNinja"]
jcorozza wrote:

Do your coworkers regularly talk about their sex lives? I've definitely been at jobs where there was a lot of relationship-talk (right now, almost all of my coworkers are married - though I'm one of the younger folks), but never much about sexual experiences.  Also, keep in mind that a lot of people who talk about their sex lives regularly...are exaggerating.  Most people who've had experience don't feel the need to brag about it to others - talk about it with close friends? Sure.  But coworkers?  This seems less likely.  You mentioned working in retail - do you work with a lot of teens/younger people?  They can be less than subtle about these things...
Most of them are younger folks, early twenties usually. Some of them have discussed it occassionally, but it's not a regular thing. I also notice the contrast in how comfortable a lot of them seem in their own skin, if that makes any sense.

One thing I noticed is that there is an inverse relationship between how much people talk about sex with people they are not intimate friends or lovers with and how much sex they are actually having and/or how secure they are/how much the need to feel "cool" or "popular" or prove something. It also tends to be younger people who do this. I have some theories why, but they all make me sound like a cranky old fart Smile
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Re: Young man stuck in a mental rut, please advise.

Post by PintsizeBro on Fri Apr 03, 2015 2:58 pm

Casual sex and romantic relationships are both wonderful, but neither are an adequate substitute when what you really want is the other.

Keep that in mind and do what you need to do in order to figure out what you want. Easier said than done, I know. But trying to improve without direction can be difficult and discouraging. After all, how can you measure success if you don't have a solid idea of what success looks like?

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