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I guess I'm reaching out...

So, I guess this is me reaching out. I have no idea what's wrong, all I know is something is.

 

A bit of background. I'm the middle child of a large family. All my siblings are pretty successful, so as you can imagine the pressure to do well is definetly present. It's not that I can't handle it, I do really well in school and heaps of volunteering and I work casually, but I've lost my drive to do well. I no longer get a buzz from doing well and I know I get do just fine wiht absolutely no work, but now doing well is beginning to matter (Year 12 next year).

 

I found a quote that makes me feel a little understood. “Adults constantly raise the bar on smart children, precisely because they're able to handle it. The children get overwhelmed by the tasks in front of them and gradually lose the sort of openness and sense of accomplishment they innately have. When they're treated like that, children start to crawl inside a shell and keep everything inside. It takes a lot of time and effort to get them to open up again. Kids' hearts are malleable, but once they gel it's hard to get them back the way they were.” Haruki Murakami in Kafka on the Shore

 

I've crawled inside my shell and everyone demands that I open up, but it only makes me want to sink deeper.

 

My parents are pretty good at being parents, but they both have depression and money is permanently running low. They're pretty good at raising the bar so I keep challenging myself but not so great at the "good job, you did well at this really amazing thing" side of stuff.

 

Recently I was elected deputy captain of my school, which at first sounds great, but it isn't. I'm pretty damn certain I won the student and staff elections, but they were only a part of the selection process.

 

I'm not conventional and conservative and don't sit nicely in a little box that they can tick. I don't pray to god, I haven't spent the last five years chasing boys (not into that), I don't go home to a cookie cutter family with 2.4 kids. But the selection commitee chose someone who fitted their bill; my best friend. I don't hold it against her but it is a little disappointing that my school is so backward. Yeah, so that deflated my faith in humanity a little. It made me feel incredibly inadequate.

 

I feel like I'm sinking deeper and deeper and the further I go the harder I know it is going to be to swim back out. I don't want to work. I don't really want to do anything. I say swim, because that's what it's like. Everyting is slow. Only my head is above the water.

 

I don't know if that made any sense. I guess the final thing is, I feel pretty lame, because my life is smooth, I'm not dying and I know I have a home to go to and a family who tries to care.

 

Anyone know what I should do before I sink to the bottom?

 

Re: I guess I'm reaching out...

Hey @BlindEagle Smiley Happy

Welcome to ReachOut and thankyou for sharing your story Smiley Happy

 

First of all, it's really impressive that you are juggling so much: school, volunteering and work. So it's understandable that your personal and family issues are stressing you out and chipping away at your motivation. It's really frustrating when adults around you, especially your parents, are setting high expectations rather than supporting you and highlighting the positives and your achievements. School and finishing year 12 are huge commitments for you and you really want to have a team behind you to cheer you on.

 

It's good that you want to find motivation again and it will help to rebuild your self-confidence and set some goals for the future. It might help to start small, like set a goal to achieve by the end of this week/month and then set bigger goals. You already have so much self-awareness which will really get you far and stop you from 'sinking to the bottom.'  

Here are some links you might find inspiring and helpful:

http://au.reachout.com/im-good-enough

http://au.reachout.com/managing-work-and-study

If it all becomes too much, it might help to cut back on some commitments and return to them later when you have more motivation.

 

Also, you can speak to a counselor or contact Kids Helpline or eHeadspace.

 

Stay strong and let us know how you go! Smiley Happy

Re: I guess I'm reaching out...

Hey @BlindEagle

 

Welcome to the ReachOut forums. It’s so great that you’ve reached out to us today. It’s shows great strength and maturity to do so.

 

It sounds like you are a really well rounded person – going to school, working and volunteering. I know that it can feel really hard when you lose motivation in doing those things. Here is a great factsheet about motivation that will hopefully help you. Goal setting and motivation go hand in hand. There is information on goal setting here too.

 

I would like to give you a HUGE congratulations for being elected deputy school captain. I sense that you have really admirable qualities that have been recognised by the school, which is why you were chosen. Try not to let the negative thoughts you are having overpower this wonderful achievement.

 

It sounds like you feel like you are being weighed down a lot by everything. That you are swimming and that things are feeling really slow for you. I relate to that so, so much. Please know that you are not alone in feeling this way. There are two pieces of advice I want to give to you:

1. Be kind to yourself. You sound like a really hard worked and you should reward yourself for that hard work. I have a list of ‘rewards’ for myself for when I’ve worked really hard – ie paint my nails, get a massage, go eat gelato, etc. Your rewards may look different. Rewarding your efforts may also add a bit of excitement and energy into your life, as they change up your normal routine and make you feel good.

 

  1. If you continue to feel this way, maybe open up to someone about it? Is there someone you trust who you can confide in? One of your parents perhaps? Or a sibling or friend? There are lots of great services around that you can contact, where you can just talk about how you’re feeling. They might have a little more insight into what might be going on for you. I can see that @Student94 has already posted some support links for you.

Lastly, I would love for you to contribute to these forums. These forums can be really beneficial to seek peer support, but also just to have some fun and get away from every day life. You will always find me in the games section.

 

Again, a huge congratulations on your achievements. I think you should be really proud of yourself.

Re: I guess I'm reaching out...

Yeah congratulations @BlindEagle for being elected as deputy school captain!!! I also really like the suggestion made by @florenceforever that you should reward yourself for hard work! Smiley Happy

Re: I guess I'm reaching out...

Hey @BlindEagle 

 

Some of the others have shared some pretty good advice. I probably don't really need to add to that so thought i'd share something personal instead.

 

Your story hits pretty close to home with me. I have extremely intelligent siblings and felt a lot of pressure during high school to do well. My grades were okay, but certainly weren't the same as my siblings and I constantly felt like I was the black sheep of the family. In terms of my schooling experience, I was more interested in putting my energy into volunteering and the school community than into my studies because I guess it was just more my thing.

 

I remember one time I went for a student captain position and all the people in my year said they were going to vote for this other girl because she was "hot". I was just so - I dont even know.... Kinda mad, kinda upset, kinda disgusted all rolled into one? People just do what is easier, not always what is right. I mean, it's hard. I'm sure this other girl had good qualities, and I'm sure your friend has good qualitites too, but sometimes you feel like you deserve something more because you know how hard you've worked?

 

All I can say is don't give up. Don't let it stop you. Don't ever, ever, ever let it stop you. You sound like a strong person, so remember that and keep pushing towards what you want and what you believe in. Opportunites will come your way - they just happens when you least expect it.

 

If you feel like you'e sinking - go out and rebel (safely). Have fun and just forget all the politics of high school and smart siblings for a bit. Always used to help me!

lanejane

Re: I guess I'm reaching out...

Hey guys,

 

Thanks so much for your advice, and the links. It's helping me make sense to myself. I'm glad I'm not alone. But, yeah @florenceforever I got to get better at being kind to myself. I like the concept of setting goals with recognisable rewards. Maybe I'll try it out sometime.

 

It's the 'person to talk to' I'm having trouble with. For a bit I saw the school councillour but she made me feel like an idiot. There is a teacher at school, but her sister committed suicide earlier this year so her life has been hectic enough with me dumping stuff on her. I guess I'll find someone sometime.

 

I guess I'll read you all around the forums. Thanks again.

 

BlindEagle

Re: I guess I'm reaching out...

@BlindEagle Welcome to reachout!

You clearly have a strong sense of who you are and understand that you are unique! However, I like you to consider why you felt inadequate when your best friend won.  Dissapointment is understandable, but whether or not you are school captain is not a measuring stick of your character!  You are clearly far more than just a title.  I would also encourage you to be happy for, and with, your best friend.  I'm sure she would appreciate this, all the more so if she understands how much you wanted it.

Regarding your school work, you sound as though you have been working hard for some time! Perhaps you are experiencing 'burn out' - a feeling of withdrawl and no motivation for that activity (your work).  Allow yourself time to be average and regroup, and then hit the ground running for year 12!  All you can do is try your best, don't expect perfection

Finally, you mentioned your faith in humanity was deflated.  I too experience this (especially when I check the news, which is every morning) but it is important that we both remember that there are many good people out there and to keep our thoughts specific and not allow them to be dictated by our emotions (e.g. frustration and disappointment at the criteria looked for by your school electoral board)

I hope things get better, let us know

 

Re: I guess I'm reaching out...

hey  @tsnyder , what you said makes perfect sense. the only thing is sense hasn't been helping me much lately, just because i have everything and people who care about me and stuff, yet I cannot forgive myself the mistakes I've made in the past. things i've said and done that everyone else has probably forgotten but i still remember, and don't forgive. does anyone else experience this?

anyway, thanks for your replies. I'm trying to puzzle through.

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Re: I guess I'm reaching out...

@BlindEagle  (sorry in advance for the short story! but please read through to the end)

 

Sometimes when we understand that we live fortunate lives (such as you and I), we expect that our mental wellbeing should also reflect this and have no tension, guilt, anxiety, etc.  'How could I be feel bad about (x) or frustrated when there are many people in seemingly much worse situations?' Remember, mental states are transient and, as such, do not expect to be constantly feeling 'happy' or 'positive'.  Negative emotion is as much a part of the human experience as positive, and should not be rejected or denied.  Emotional pain is real and there are many factors aside from our perception of a situation that dictate it. 

 

Do not get upset with yourself for feeling upset!

 

To break it into steps:

1. Allow yourself to feel guilty! From your posts, I think this reflects 2 salient characteristics.  Firstly, it sounds like you have a strong moral compass, and this is really positive!  Secondly, you sound perfectionistic.  I'm also perfectionistic.  Speaking from experience I would say that it has its upsides! It drives you in any area of life you dedicate yourself too. For example, it will help you get good grades, help your sport, and can help you be more empathic! However, you also must recognize when you're not being realistic with yourself, ie. everyone makes mistakes! Do you honestly expect perfection? Perfection doesn't exist (in my opinion) but that is part of what makes us unique!

 

Keep in mind we are unique and not 'special' - and being perfect would not make you 'special'.  Mistakes are part of life and a big part of maturation. 

As a good rule of thumb, ask yourself what you would say to a friend if she came to you with the same problems.  It helps me

 

2. Learn from your guilt.  Your guilt is your conscience trying to tell you something, most probably not to act in that way again.  And, if i had to guess, you probably haven't repeated these actions again recently?

 

3. Allow yourself to move on but don't expect to 'forget'.  You will probably never forget but this will only make you a stronger, more understanding and conscientious person.  I still remember many of the not so good things i have done (and still am doing!) but I know that I am a more empathic, conscientious and understanding person than I used to be, but I also acknowledge that I still am learning and developing (and always will be! [That's life!]).  However, remind yourself of what you would tell your friend - learn from it, forgive yourself and don't expect perfection.

 

These past mistakes do not make you any less of a person, to me they reflect your positive qualities (!!) (as you feel guilty), and should be treated as stepping stones to learn from.  I absolutely understand where you are coming from and have been there myself - at times it feels like no one is truly understanding your thoughts from the advice they are giving.  However, I've gotten much better at applying my perfectionism to areas that are beneficial (eg. studying) and allowing myself to be less than perfect and make mistakes in other areas.  Understand when you are being unrealistic but know that you are unique, not perfect, nor will you ever be perfect. 

Striving for perfection gets incredibly tedious and can end up feeling like a trap. 

 

 I hope this helps and don't be so hard on yourself! (what would you say to a friend!!!) (Sorry for the novel!)

Re: I guess I'm reaching out...

Thanks @tsnyder , that really did help. I'm glad I read the whole novel though, it was definitely worth it. I guess I've never really been allowed, or allowed myself, to get stuff wrong, or to feel guilty. When I get things wrong people look at me like the world is imploding, not because I never get stuff wrong, but becuase I'm able to make it seem like I always get things right. It's a bit of a weird roundabout catch 22 first-world-problem.

Anyways, thanks again.

-BlindEagle