From Our Readers
November 28, 2013 6:00 am

For the past two and a half years I’ve been in a rut. And I’m not just talking about your basic, run-of-the-mill, my-life-could-afford-to-be-spiced-up-with-a-tropical-vacation-and-or-a-new-wardrobe rut. I’m talking about a deep, existential, post-grad rut, wherein I’ve spent the last few years living at home with my parents, unemployed.

It wasn’t always like this. I exhibited potential once upon a time. I was a solid student in high school. I got myself into a good university. And I did well at said university. Maybe not extraordinarily well, but well enough to land a good internship after graduation, which led to my being offered a full-time position. On the outside, everything looked good. In retrospect, it was good. But then as was my life’s pattern, I had to get in the way of my own good fortune. When you grow up feeling insecure about yourself, you develop a habit of dismissing opportunities as flukes, because you’re convinced that nothing you do could ever lead to actual success. Nothing you do feels earned, because you believe you’re doing everything wrong. It’s a very warped way of thinking that feels instinctively logical to the person experiencing it, but in reality is just sad. I used to attribute my good work as a series of lucky breaks, and it just enhanced this feeling that one day the other shoe would drop, and I’d be revealed as the sham that I was. Needless to say, I turned down the job to “explore other possible opportunities” or whatever. That excuse was the true sham.

On the one hand, I can’t believe how much time has gone by when it feels like just yesterday I was in college, seemingly on track to doing something with my life. On the other hand, the past two years have felt like a lifetime prison sentence that I just can’t seem to escape. And the worst part of it all is realizing that this non-existence I’ve been leading was and remains one hundred percent self-inflicted. I did this to myself. Me alone. And knowing this makes me so angry with myself.

Recently, I’ve tried to channel this anger into something more productive. Whereas, at times it has felt all-consuming, I’m hoping to turn it into inspiration to get myself out of this rut, and into what I hope will be a less dark and twisty phase of my life. That’s what I’m hoping will happen. That’s what I have to stay focused on. In the meantime, I’ve tried to decipher some meaning in this extended life hiatus (as I’m prone to calling it) to figure out not only what brought me to this point but, also, what the big takeaway lesson is. What I’ve come up with is that the past few years have been somewhat inevitable, given the way I’ve always been. It almost felt like all my issues were finally coming home to roost.

For as long as I can remember, I have been hyper self-aware, and hyper-self-conscious to the point where I just lacked any and all confidence. I lived in fear of being out there, of being seen, and noticed and went to great lengths to be as low profile as possible in all aspects of my life. I believe I was able to exist this way for so long and still be competent, because school gave me my sense of direction and purpose. There was a natural momentum to life and I could get away with not addressing these flaws, so long as I studied and completed my coursework. In a weird way, I used to feel my insecurity helped define who I was and distinguish me from my peers. To act confident felt like I would be going against my true nature, which in turn felt insincere and fake. My insecurity went from being a facet of my personality, to something synonymous with my identity. I didn’t know how to be a person who believed in herself nor did I think I should.

Graduating from college was when all my issues with shyness and confidence came to the forefront. For the first time ever, I couldn’t rely on classes, or homework, or semesters to give my life meaning and structure. I was in charge of my own fate. And as I quickly discovered, I was not equipped for the job. My lack of confidence was always self-destructive to a degree, in that it prevented me from even trying to meet my full potential. But after college the stakes got higher. Suddenly, the issue wasn’t that I didn’t raise my hand in class even when I was sure of the answer. Now it was a matter of not feeling good enough to apply for a job, because when you can’t see your own attributes, what’s to say others will? I felt incompetent, unprepared, and emotionally stunted compared to my peers. I didn’t have any sense of self-worth. I felt superficially smart and at risk of being exposed as a true phony, who somehow managed to graduate without being capable of true thoughtfulness. Basically, I believed I was a loser, and that belief went on to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I removed myself entirely from the world around me, and basically went into hiding. I will never forgive myself.

I think it took me breaking my own spirit to realize I had one in the first place. That may sound dark but it’s the truth. I was on autopilot my whole life, and I didn’t trust myself to be my own captain, so to speak. I realize now this has to change.

I’m at the point where I feel I have nothing to lose. I let the fear of failure consume me. But I know now, that it was also a fear of success, success I didn’t think I deserved. I’ve learned the hard way that true failure is not the absence of success. It’s the absence of trying. I’ve failed. My worst fear is realized and yet I’m still here. I now want to be free of it.

I want to allow myself to want things. I want to be ambitious again. Back in my middle school and high school days when everything associated with adulthood felt so far away, I allowed myself to dream big. But as I got older those dreams just became symbols of things I didn’t think I could ever achieve and so I didn’t allow myself to verbalize my innermost desires.

I want things now. I want to be happy. I want to be driven and focused. I want to be funny and opinionated. I want to speak up and be heard. I want to be understood. Truly understood, not as some shy, cutesy, one-dimensional person. I want to write and share my writing. I want to not be shy. I want to be strong. I want to allow myself to be the person I know I am. I don’t want to be my own secret anymore.

More than anything, I want so badly to believe the last two and a half years has come to it’s conclusion, and that I’m at the end of this self-inflicted, wasteful, unnecessary journey. I think believing this might just help make it true.

Submitted by Anonymous.

Featured Image via Shutterstock.

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