Hi my lovelies,,
I've been having a hard time over the past few weeks because my life is pretty much a never-ending stream of problems and insecurities right now, most of which I cannot resolve for at least a few months. This has led me into a state of intense listlessness and unhappiness. I do not like being unhappy and have Officially Decided that I would like to be happy again. But I think I need some help getting there.
Moving beyond the basic "I'm terribly lonely in this very unpleasant pandemic" stuff, my main issue is that I actually am not alone at all, at least physically or socially, I am just alone emotionally/spiritually. I live with a bunch of other people my age and certianly have opportunities for interactions (quite a few). I get dinner with some of my very favorite people every week (on Wednesday!!!!) and am kept on at least a slightly consistent social/exercise schedule with some of my other very favorite people every day. My issue is that in most or possibly all of these settings, there is something preventing me from totally relaxing. I can only talk about my surface-level problems, like "oh haha I'm so busy with class ahah lol joke" and not "my deepest darkest insecurities are clawing their way into my brain more intensely every day and I Cannot Stop Them." Its like I keep my little shield up the whole time and don't allow myself to be vulnerable. I suspect there are a few factors going on here:
- I have several leadership positions, either formally or informally, and actually have a very difficult time not stumbling into them and accepting more responsibility in general. I think I have internalized the stoicism or steadfastness I try to exemplify in those positions, in my everyday life
- I often (usually?) look like I have my shit together, even when I very much do not. My default way of existing is just pretty relaxed and I think people assume that means I have no stress in my life (false lol)
- I like it when people think and say Good Things about me and not when they think and say Bad Things about me, and that includes their perceptions of me as someone who has their shit together all the time
sooo the leadership thing is unfortunate because it means that kind ofa lot of people look up to me as a beacon of stability and idealness. I know this because I have been told it several times by several different people, and it's sort of obvious when people emulate your mannerisms or call you at 2 am because they're drunk and lost and need help. There is exactly a 0% chance that I will do anything other than express my normal "everything is going good" attitude when I am running a meeting or giving a presentation or whatever because doing so would signify "everything isNOT good" and therefore "oh no help where is my beacon of stability beezselzak ahhhhhhh" (we cannot have a crisis at the same time because I must be there to attend to their crisis whenever it happens. Part of the job) And also it would upset my narcissistic tendency toward being perfect always.
Even when I'm with my friends, who I can be at least moderately normal around, I still find it very difficult to begin talking about anything that is rather Serious because it is much more pleasant to just talk about enjoyable things, and though I see these people on a regular basis, it is not ever for very much time, so I don't want to waste it. I would feel very awkward bringing up serious mental health problems at dinner. And also even though we're close friends there is still a little bit of an expectation to have your life under control? you know how it is. I have 2-3 people who are sort of individual confidants (about specific things), and there are occasions where we can have very insightful conversations. But it's hard because the covid makes getting together unrealistic and I find it very challenging to initiate Serious Conversations over the telephone. And even in person, I still think I have some barriers yet to break with them.
The end result here is that I am kinda just walkin around every day with a lot of issues and nowhere to exactly put them, and everyone thinks it's all sunshine and roses and I really feed into that perception because it makes me feel good short-term (even though it makes me feel worse long-term). I have a therapist, but you know how that goes. It's not the same as talking to a peer, which is really where I'm stuck. So this is my question to the wise and learned gentlefolk of Tildes:
How do I shed this annoying habit of trying to be perfect even when it's really not necessary and really not helpful? I know that there's a problem, I just can't give up my leadership positions (at least for now) and am having a hard time giving up my narcissism.
and yes yes I do therapy and journaling and the mindful meditation and whatever, I am not interested in generic self-help advice. I'm more curious about your rituals, or forms of understanding that are personal to your struggles in regard to being vulnerable with friends, your SO, and people who look up to you. I'd like to learn more about how any of this might resonate with you, and then how you have dealt/would deal with it yourself. Because I am Young And Naive I think I lack most of the experiential knowledge about like, "how to exist," and I want to be able to take your ideas into account. Things that matter, things that really just don't matter, ways to conceptualize the self versus the great vast universe of possibility and collective individuality to ultimately be less concerned with perfection and the like. etc. Also I ought to teach some of these people how to be better at being independent functional humans and that is a little tricky when I am not one myself.