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Hi, I'm new here. I've been reading this forum and found it very helpful towards those who want advice, so I decided to join because there's been a lot on my mind lately.

 

Recently, I've discovered that I am insecure about myself. I think it's because I've been thinking a lot about how my friendships keep ending and how I'm interested in someone, but I feel that I just can't be with them because I don't love or accept myself (along with other reasons...), and I know I'm not ready for a love relationship. Lately, I've been remembering the phrase, "You can't love someone else if you don't love yourself." This phrase made me think about my relationships with people and I've realized that it is true.

 

Aside from elementary school, my friendships have 'ended' from growth and change. Then...a gap/distance just starts to slowly grow over time. I've come to understand that friends come and go, but it hurts every time because I think the person is great and I'm imagining us being best friends forever, and then it just...something just happens and it goes away. I've noticed that when they go away, my happiness goes away, too. I think...all this time...I've been depending on others for my happiness.

 

Ever since I was little, I was always trying to be someone else. I don't think I ever liked myself. I don't know why...maybe I see myself as an unworthy person? But I don't understand why. I think it might be because I don't see my own qualities, just others' qualities. Now I've learned that being yourself is best, but even so, I'm afraid to just be myself. I'm afraid that people won't like me. I'm afraid to find out my worth because maybe I am more powerful and worthy than I think I am. But wouldn't that be a good thing? So why am I afraid? I think that just goes back to not accepting myself. And...since I was always trying to be someone else and putting on a mask, I've become a bit confused and afraid to come out of hiding.

 

Another thing is that I'm a very sensitive person, especially towards others' emotions. A person who cares very much for me once told me, "I'm worried that you're not taking care of yourself very well because you're always taking care of others." A family member also told me, "You worry too much about other people. Just worry about yourself." I guess I'm just not the type to NOT care about others. In a way...I think that became a part of me because I was always afraid of no one liking me, so I became nice to everyone. But I really do care about others. It's just...I think I put them too much before myself, but I don't know how to stop. How do you do it...?

 

I also have this attachment problem where I get close to a person and then when they start talking to other people and laughing and having fun with them, I get a bit jealous inside. It's like...I want to be the only special one to them. Not that they can't talk to anyone else, but...it's like I want to be the most important, the one who they go to. And when they're not around, I go a bit crazy. When I don't hear from hem in a while, I start to worry and wonder if I did something wrong. I analyze everything. I just get ATTACHED.

 

I'm also having trouble with what's most important for me, what my top priorities are. There's all this stuff, and then school. I'm just so confused about everything.

 

I think the answer would be to start being independent NOW. I think I need to just take a breather from close relationships (except family, of course). That distance is always happening with my friendships, and they are probably signs that I need to be on my own for a while to sort things out and learn who I am, accept it, and be it. To be confident in myself and have confidence, to actually have a self-esteem.

 

I'm 15 years old and in my sophomore year. I've been told a few times that this is the year where you're going to begin to really find who you are and where you fit. It's hard because I'm still young, so to have to do things alone..."Loneliness is HARD." I also stay home a lot except when I have to go to school. Because my friendships keep distancing, I think I've lost trust and a bit of hope in relationships with people. I'm afraid to go out. I'm afraid that the same cycle will keep on repeating with every person that I meet. I'm a quiet, reserved person, so that makes it even more difficult. I'm just really confused right now. I've been staying up late until midnight just thinking about everything. "What should I do...? What is right for me...?" It's been about close to two years since I've had a real friend or friend(s). I think I depend too much on my friendships, so they're not even healthy relationships.... It's not easy to see others having people to go to and talk with, laughing and joking around when I don't.

 

I want to know how you all feel about this. Should I start becoming an independent person and start making it on my own and stop worrying? Do you think it's time for that? What should I do about my insecurities? Please someone just tell me...what's going on.... Will the best things really come in time?

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Hello Lady, and welcome. This is a wonderful post. Your self-awareness is admirable, your maturity for your age is remarkable, and your concerns are natural and valid. You're also a great writer.

 

Your post has got some meat to it, and I'd love to address it. Just wanted to say 'hi' as I take your text offline to work with.

 

Talk soon, and my best,

Cat

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[...]I've come to understand that friends come and go, but it hurts every time because I think the person is great and I'm imagining us being best friends forever,[...]...I've been depending on others for my happiness.

 

Glad you understand that friends come and go. That really is the most important thing to grasp as we share paths with people only to branch in different directions over time. Thing is, paths often cross again down the road, and it can lead to wonderful rediscoveries.

 

One caution is to avoid suffocating your friendships by investing in them too intensely or holding them too tightly. You sound smart and self-aware, so you can see that becoming dependent on friends puts a weight on them they never agreed to carry. If you can appreciate friendships in terms of 'cycles' rather than permanent fixtures, you can enjoy them for what they offer in the present. You'll view their losses also as temporary 'cycles' where you both go off to explore different aspects of life. People reunite all the time, if they remain open instead of shutting down with hurt.

 

Consider also that as we mature, it's natural to form different KINDS of friendships for different purposes. These will settle into their own degrees of intimacy. For instance, there are certain friends who might be great for games of tennis, but they aren't sensitive or caring enough for deep confidences. Other friends are good for sharing disclosures but aren't great at scheduling time for superficial stuff, like shopping. Some friends seem to stay distant but will surprise you by stepping up in an emergency, while even a closest friend might fall apart under pressure.

 

Point is, nobody can be another's 'everything' the way a best friend could pull that off when we were kids. Kids are a blank slate, so they're flexible about molding to fit the personalities of others. Teenagers begin growing more solid in their own traits, and so we pick and choose the best features of a person to match our own needs while learning how to overlook flaws yet screen out people who are harmful to us. It's a process to learn how to do this, and while most of us get our feelings hurt at some point along the way, it's important to learn how to roll with it. Risks are part of every aspect of living, and catering to an aversion to them can make your world grow very small.

 

[...]I was always trying to be someone else and putting on a mask, I've become a bit confused and afraid to come out of hiding.

 

This is natural, and most people can relate to one degree or another. While some people appear very confident and grounded in who they are, we never know how true that is of them--or just their mask. The mask isn't a 'bad' thing, it's just the ego's way of protecting our privacy as we grow more solid in who we are and more confident in revealing aspects of ourselves. Someday this renders the mask useless, but meanwhile, just use it as a tool when necessary.

 

[...] "You worry too much about other people. Just worry about yourself." I guess I'm just not the type to NOT care about others. [...]

 

There's a difference between caring and worrying. Caring is an act of generosity, while worrying can be neurotic, self-centered and unproductive--which can drive people nuts.

 

Caring about someone means you hold their best interests at heart, and this will prompt you to feel joy and fondness for them as you operate accordingly. Worry can be self-centered because it's often focused on your own loss of control over another rather than another's welfare. An exception would be worry for someone who is missing at 2AM or some other extreme cause for fear.

 

Trick is to avoid confusing a desire to control someone as caring about them. Worrying about how someone perceives you isn't concern for them--it's about you. Worrying about someone's focus or behavior or perceptions isn't 'caring,' it's controlling. Being controlling isn't caring, it's suffocating.

 

I also have this attachment problem where I get close to a person and then when they start talking to other people and laughing and having fun with them, I get a bit jealous inside. [...] When I don't hear from hem in a while, I start to worry and wonder if I did something wrong. I analyze everything. I just get ATTACHED.

 

You're brave for recognizing this, and that's the first step in changing it. You wouldn't be so worried (controlling) if your focus was less intense about any given friend, and you were more interested in making more (and different KINDS of) friends yourself.

 

Aside from the fact that jealousy feels lousy, it comes out sideways in your attitudes and behaviors in ways that drive people away, it also fails to consider that a friend's interest and skill at making other friends can spell more friendships for YOU.

 

Practice transferring your desire for one single person to idolize you into their 'everything' into a more gentle curiosity about ways to be generous with as many people as possible. Instead of jealously guarding your friendships and being resistant to 'sharing' them, practice ways of seeing how larger groups of friends can offer you a bigger menu of things to appreciate about different people in different ways.

 

The same is true for how more acquaintances can help you feel there's more to appreciate about you. One person may value your sensitivity more than the friend you originally had, while another might share your interest in some author or movie or band, and the two of you can go ape about that thing while the rest of the group could care less.

 

I think the answer would be to start being independent NOW. I think I need to just take a breather from close relationships (except family, of course). That distance is always happening with my friendships, and they are probably signs that I need to be on my own for a while to sort things out and learn who I am, accept it, and be it. To be confident in myself and have confidence, to actually have a self-esteem.

 

I would agree with this approach if you were able to rule out that you're not just going off into a snit because you're jealous or you're just not getting what you want right now.

 

I would agree with going solo for a while if it will give you time and space to reconsider the difference between generosity and control, and if you'll pursue it from the position of relaxing and softening and opening your heart instead of turning bitter and resentful.

 

It might help to give yourself some positive affirmations each morning and a goal of performing one act of quiet generosity toward at least one other person that day. It's not about getting recognition--the act could be secret. If you want to relax into the power of invisibility, then make it about learning how to give freely and randomly and without expectations rather than an exercise in pulling deeper into yourself and creating a shell that will only become harder to break out of.

 

[...]Because my friendships keep distancing, I think I've lost trust and a bit of hope in relationships with people. I'm afraid to go out. I'm afraid that the same cycle will keep on repeating with every person that I meet.

 

You can break the cycle by changing your approach. You don't need to become a loud and brazen attention-seeker to make friends, but you also need to drop the idea of holding a jealous grip on the ones you make and become more open to the idea of inclusiveness rather than exclusiveness in your friendships. That's a hard pill for the ego to swallow when it's been the driver of your relationships, but it's the cause of your suffering, and nobody else can cure this habit FOR you--and nobody else is going to tolerate it FROM you.

 

[...]It's been about close to two years since I've had a real friend or friends). I think I depend too much on my friendships, so they're not even healthy relationships.... It's not easy to see others having people to go to and talk with, laughing and joking around when I don't.

 

Rather than try to break into situations that intimidate you, it might be helpful to shelve the idea of shooting for friendships with the most popular people--they already have enough friends. Why not spend some time walking around outside of your normal routine, and identify people who might be as lonely and as appreciative of a friendship as you are?

 

I want to know how you all feel about this. Should I start becoming an independent person and start making it on my own and stop worrying? Do you think it's time for that? What should I do about my insecurities? Please someone just tell me...what's going on.... Will the best things really come in time?

 

More 'best things' will come in time if you become more open to them instead of closing yourself down. Use the time you spend in solitude productively to learn relaxation methods and to contemplate ways to build yourself UP rather than sending yourself into mind-spins that drill you deeper into fears and insecurities.

 

When you spin yourself into a tight ball of nerves, you close yourself off to suggestions and you lose your ability to Open Up to the answers you seek.

 

Try reading this message again later after you've taken a walk to clear your head, practiced some deep breathing and can consider yourself to be in a relaxed state. Otherwise, the best words in the world will roll off you without making a dent.

 

When the suggestion to RELAX strikes you as a trite put-down, that's a sign that you're not open to 'hearing' anything else. When the suggestion to RELAX feels more like a confirmation of the state you're entering as you read it, that's when you are open--and that's when real learning can happen.

 

This is true of your everyday state, as well. Try using the word 'RELAX' to test where you are at any given time. If you can take a deep breath and lean into it, then you're in an open state for relating to others. If you feel clamped down and unable to allow the word to penetrate, that's a time to step back and treat yourself to something nice you can enjoy solo, instead.

 

Write more if it helps, and in your corner.

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Thank you, catfeeder! That's a lot to take in, but...I'll try my best to understand it. I think the hardest part about what you said was to be open to everyone instead of just directing at one person. I'm always directing towards one special person, and I think that is because I long to have a close relationship with someone. I'm not really used to...not having a best friend. I've always had a best friend or 1 or two close friends, but for close to two or maybe even three years, really, I haven't had anyone close. But I've made a few casual friends who are very nice, but I also have a problem with that....

 

You see...I've fallen for one of the friends that I've met, and it's really hurting me right now because I know that I can't love them, even though they're so...he's so...I don't even know how to describe him, but I just really like who he is inside as a person. I'm really...attracted to him. There's just this barrier within me that blocks me from following my heart because, well, I guess it goes back to what I said before; I don't even love myself. I know that I have a lot of internal problems and emotions that I need to sort out, so that might be the cause of that barrier. I'm not sure it's just because I'm afraid or because it's there for a good reason. I think it's there for a good reason.

 

I'm really sad that I might be putting down an opportunity with someone who I really like, but at the same time, I don't want to do something that I'm not ready for. I know I'm still really young, but...those feelings are still there. I've decided that I'm not ready, but now that I've decided that, it's like I'm distancing from him (mentally) to stop those feelings. I don't want to do that, though, because he's a nice friend, and I still want to be with him. How do I keep the right distance? What do I do about these feelings? Everything that I've said before also affects my relationship with him. What do I do with him? I really like him.... It seems that things have been a bit quiet between us lately. I think he might feel the same way, so what am I supposed to do...in order to...as they say...not lead him on, or something?

 

Also, he once told me that I remind him of an old crush from a long time ago and it seems that he still holds her in his heart. I want to be seen as me, not as somebody else who he wishes was here instead. When he told me that, it hurt me because I felt like I wasn't being seen. Is this a sign to be cautious about? I know that he's had relationships before. I think some of them may have been strong.... He seems to be stuck in his past a lot. Does this mean that he may have a lot to work on as well? He hasn't mentioned her for a long time, though. But I can't really know about that. There's a lot that goes on in his mind, things about him that I don't know about.

But...he also seems to see me as myself and he seems to like being with me as well, so I'm not sure. It's all so confusing.

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Thank you, catfeeder! That's a lot to take in, but...I'll try my best to understand it.

 

Thank you, Lady. Might be helpful to re-read it over time, as this will allow understanding to come in small bits as you practice fighting against parts of it (natural) and trying on new ways to view it over time. Instant agreement with it isn't required for it to be useful.

 

I think the hardest part about what you said was to be open to everyone instead of just directing at one person. I'm always directing towards one special person, and I think that is because I long to have a close relationship with someone.

 

Anything outside your normal pattern of operating isn't going to 'feel' wonderful or even comfortable for a while. That's what changing habits means. Most of us would like to slap a marathon runner when they speak of how invigorating running feels to them--but they weren't saying that when they were as out of shape as the rest of us.

 

This 'one special person' thing is your childhood ego speaking beyond all reason. The way we developed special relationships as kids was based on generic personality traits and convenience. I discussed this above. As people mature, instant intimacy is suspect rather than embraced. We get to know people as acquaintances over time, and the more resonant relationships form into something more intimate. People can't target their intimacies until they learn what a person is made of, and the way you each get to learn that about others is by casual interaction.

 

'Casual' being the key word, and it's an important one for you to learn how to negotiate.

 

I'm not really used to...not having a best friend. I've always had a best friend or 1 or two close friends, but for close to two or maybe even three years, really, I haven't had anyone close.

 

This translates into: your suggestions are good for other people, but not me because I'm not willing to stretch beyond what I'm not used to. I'd rather cater to my comfort, which means holding to a social pattern that hasn't gained me what I really want for years.

 

The good news is, this is a decision rather than a life sentence imposed on you. A decision means you're in charge of it, so no matter what you opt to do, it's a valid decision. The problem only comes with choosing an option that doesn't deliver what you want. You recognize this, and so you flirt with changing what you want instead. That's fine, but the trick then becomes 'wanting' isolation, 'wanting' a lack of social support, and 'wanting' a lack of the social confidence that comes with social support.

 

None of this is terrible news for someone who is smart enough to see the conundrum. You ARE smart enough, and so it's just a matter of time before you align your choices and your desires to match rather than continue a futile fight with incongruities.

 

But I've made a few casual friends who are very nice, but I also have a problem with that....

 

Having friends who are nice isn't a problem.

 

You see...I've fallen for one of the friends that I've met,

 

This, of itself, isn't a problem either. It's just incongruent with the social isolation you prefer, which prevents you from developing the social skills and support of friends that would aid your confidence in handling this particular friendship.

 

[...] I know that I have a lot of internal problems and emotions that I need to sort out, so that might be the cause of that barrier. I'm not sure it's just because I'm afraid or because it's there for a good reason. I think it's there for a good reason.

 

If you believe that your insecurities and social isolation serve you well, then sure--you can cater to those at the expense of any rewards that might come with pushing past them despite some discomfort. Those problems can be your safety blanket if you so desire. The reasonable option, then, would be to change those problems into what you 'want' instead of the healthy relationships they will cost you.

 

That's really the only valid way to problem-solve: make a private decision for one thing over another, and then change your perceptions to agree with your decision. Otherwise, the incongruities will remain an unsolved problem.

 

The childhood fantasy that one other person will just fall into idolization of you without any need for socialization beyond you is not problem-solving, it's fantasy. You can hold this idea as your ideal and fantasize about it all you want, but living in your mind is not going to develop you socially, it will not inspire you to become generous and healthy, and it will not solve your problems. Period.

 

Consider 'dis-illusionment' a healthy but uncomfortable process, and see how well you can grapple with it and test it. That's all you really need to push for at the moment, and see if you can't build a case for challenging yourself beyond what you are 'used to'.

 

[...] How do I keep the right distance? What do I do about these feelings?

 

Developing friendships with his friends as well as with him will include enough people in your social time together to allow you to build rapport in a casual and less intense way. You don't need to turn this into a pressure-cooker, in fact, doing so could creep him out. Just relax your grip and get to know him in a casual way, over time. The rest will work itself out.

 

Everything that I've said before also affects my relationship with him.

 

No kidding. That's why I'm suggesting you diffuse this with care and attention to the people around you who, despite your single-minded focus, are part of your reality, rather than spinning yourself into idolization fantasies about one guy who likely is not interested in playing therapist to someone with self-described emotional problems.

 

Also, he once told me that I remind him of an old crush [...] When he told me that, it hurt me because I felt like I wasn't being seen. Is this a sign to be cautious about?

 

No, it's a sign of flattery. People don't form crushes on anyone they're not attracted to. If he finds some unnamed quality about you attractive, then it means you're ringing his bell. Take compliments as compliments when you get them--don't turn them into some toxic mind mush to feel horrible about.

 

I know that he's had relationships before. [...] But I can't really know about that. There's a lot that goes on in his mind, things about him that I don't know about.[...]

 

You're doing destructive mind spins again. Look, everybody has past relationships--nobody springs from the womb fully formed as your potential lover without a history, and if you're smart, you'll deflect any talk about past relationships and consider them none of your business.

 

The way to build your emotional musculature in handling relationships is to have more of them. If you believe that your emotional issues prevent you from forming casual and healthy relationships to build support and confidence, then going straight for romance is like positioning yourself in a Wimbledon match without having learned to play tennis.

 

Learn social skills by building them, as beating yourself up for not having them doesn't buy them for you. The guy can wait--he's not going anywhere. If you isolate your focus on only him, you'll just keep torturing yourself over every breath he takes that includes an interaction with someone else or a memory of someone else, and you'll toast yourself.

 

Build yourself UP instead of tearing yourself down. Do this by earning social value--and do that by actively pushing yourself toward earning it over time. Beating yourself up because you're not the center of someone's universe will get you nothing but beaten. You have to EARN your way into healthy friendships, and I can appreciate that you don't 'like' that. But you can complain about it, or you can start doing it. It's a decision, and I have faith in you.

 

In your corner.

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Thank you, catfeeder, again, for replying! You're very helpful, and as for having faith in me, I thank you for that, too. I will learn to keep a distance from those who I might get attached to and start making more friends with others in general to create a larger social network of support. It always makes me feel good when I am supported by many people, and often, I do feel like I am supported my just about everyone, but I don't actually get to know the majority of people, even though I want to. But why don't I start to do that now? The only thing I'm afraid of is that there might be some differences between me and most people, but instead of focusing on the differences, why don't I focus on what we have in common? Does that sound good? I have the opportunity to get to know more people. I'll be taking that opportunity VERY soon.

 

When you talked about my childhood ego and fantasies, I realized that it is true. I hang on to a lot of things from my childhood and that isn't healthy. I want to break out of my past and I want to get out of the little world inside of my head. I think I put myself in a very sheltered position.

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