Trying to understand myself - identity crisis - Social Anxiety Forum
 
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-19-2017, 12:59 AM Thread Starter
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Trying to understand myself - identity crisis

Hi all. My name is Dan and I'm new here.

I really feel like I need some help but have little idea where to start.

I was a very quiet and shy kid and that has continued into adulthood. I'm 37 now.

I did get married and have 2 kids but my now ex wife was very manipulative and abusive. We divorced and I have my kids at weekends, but I haven't seen them in 3 months now because contact has been stopped.

I have a job that is quite technical which is fairly well paid too.

My problem is that I really don't know who I am. I get no satisfaction from daily life at all. I am a very serious person and don't laugh much or make other people laugh. I have what I call a strict sense of right and wrong and it annoys me when other people behave in a way that I consider wrong but reap the benefits from it. I don't really have any hobbies but I've dabbled in things.

In my childhood I was very thin because I didn't eat properly. In my teens I believe I was body dismorphic but I never heard of the term until late into my twenties. I am still self conscious about my body and voice. I have joined a gym to lift weights but struggle with the motivation required to keep to the routine and eat the required amount of food.

I often get very depressed at being alone but at the same time feel that I don't have the skills to do anything about it. At other times however I think I'm better off alone because I'm sensitive to rejection and conflict from others.

I'm not sure where to start to try and understand myself and begin to fix things because I feel lost at the moment.

Thanks.
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-19-2017, 01:48 AM
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Originally Posted by identitycrysys View Post
Hi all. My name is Dan and I'm new here.



I really feel like I need some help but have little idea where to start.



I was a very quiet and shy kid and that has continued into adulthood. I'm 37 now.



I did get married and have 2 kids but my now ex wife was very manipulative and abusive. We divorced and I have my kids at weekends, but I haven't seen them in 3 months now because contact has been stopped.



I have a job that is quite technical which is fairly well paid too.



My problem is that I really don't know who I am. I get no satisfaction from daily life at all. I am a very serious person and don't laugh much or make other people laugh. I have what I call a strict sense of right and wrong and it annoys me when other people behave in a way that I consider wrong but reap the benefits from it. I don't really have any hobbies but I've dabbled in things.



In my childhood I was very thin because I didn't eat properly. In my teens I believe I was body dismorphic but I never heard of the term until late into my twenties. I am still self conscious about my body and voice. I have joined a gym to lift weights but struggle with the motivation required to keep to the routine and eat the required amount of food.



I often get very depressed at being alone but at the same time feel that I don't have the skills to do anything about it. At other times however I think I'm better off alone because I'm sensitive to rejection and conflict from others.



I'm not sure where to start to try and understand myself and begin to fix things because I feel lost at the moment.



Thanks.
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Hi Dan,

I'm definitely not qualified to answer your question because I'm in a similar bind myself. Identity is a tricky topic because it is deeply linked with a multitude of factors.

I might be wrong here but it seems that you have some idea what your identity is. I think the term identity, when discussed in a forum like this, should be much more encompassing compared to its academic usage. Identity is not about having a neat list of features that seeks to make the person look pretty; it is also not about trying to proclaim to the world "Lo and behold, world. For I am a purposeful human being!" Identity is about character and that includes both the good and the bad of the person.

You are aware that you're divorced and lost contact with your children for 3 months. That's a part of your identity.

You know that you are self-conscious - part of your identity.

You know that you are depressed, and sensitive to rejection and conflict - again, identity.

Those above are proofs that you have some semblance of identity. What is missing is any mention of things that would make you look better and more positive to the both yourself and others; I believe that's the cause of your identity crisis.

I think most people who say I don't know who I am is misleading themselves. It's not "I don't know who I am" but actually "I don't like who I am" or alternatively "I don't know what would make my life more satisfying than it is currently."

"I don't know who I am" is a much better reserved for the amnesiacs while the latter two for most of us.

Sorry if this rubbed you off the wrong way or if it's unhelpful; whenever I write I tend to write for myself and it's a difficult habit to control.

Anyway, maybe you could try to do one thing as right as possible so it can be a strong foundation for your identity? That gym habit might serve you well if you do it right; motivation is tricky for sure but with enough effort, I think you can make it work. It takes time and multiple failures for sure but those are the cost for most worthwhile endeavours.








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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-19-2017, 01:52 AM
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It sounds like you could have depression, which would explain your lack of satisfaction from everyday life and difficulty with finding the motivation to go to the gym.

Finding some hobbies would be a great way to combat depression. It sounds like the gym is something that you're interested in, so you could look into finding a personal trainer to stay motivated. You could also look into doing exercise in other forms that you find enjoyable, such as running and cycling.

I think it would be great for you to reconnect with your kids as seeing them each weekend would give you something to look forward to. You could look into developing a hobby that all three of you would enjoy.

You could consider going to a men's support group, where you would meet others who are going through similar hardships in life. In Australia, there's the Men's Shed program that provides a place for men to socialise with each other through their hobbies.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-19-2017, 02:32 AM
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Life can be confusing often times, your mind can make you feel confused, etc. Try just figuring out what you want. Also, i find that sometimes settling with an identity just isnt really the way to go. Why settle with a certain particular identity, a set plan in life, etc, when you can just be flexible and adapt to whatever life throws at you? Just do what you enjoy and if you are afraid of rejection then do whatever feels most comfortable. Also, if you dont find pleasure in anything then you may be suffering from depression or anhedonia. Hope this helped.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-19-2017, 03:57 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by zanemwarwick View Post

I might be wrong here but it seems that you have some idea what your identity is. I think the term identity, when discussed in a forum like this, should be much more encompassing compared to its academic usage. Identity is not about having a neat list of features that seeks to make the person look pretty; it is also not about trying to proclaim to the world "Lo and behold, world. For I am a purposeful human being!" Identity is about character and that includes both the good and the bad of the person.

You are aware that you're divorced and lost contact with your children for 3 months. That's a part of your identity.

You know that you are self-conscious - part of your identity.

You know that you are depressed, and sensitive to rejection and conflict - again, identity.

Those above are proofs that you have some semblance of identity. What is missing is any mention of things that would make you look better and more positive to the both yourself and others; I believe that's the cause of your identity crisis.

I think most people who say I don't know who I am is misleading themselves. It's not "I don't know who I am" but actually "I don't like who I am" or alternatively "I don't know what would make my life more satisfying than it is currently."
Thank you very much for your reply zanemwarwick. I think you are right that I cannot see the positives, and the negatives about myself are things that are very front of mind because it feels like everyone else can do these things easily but I can't. I also feel that the things I am interested in don't interest anyone else, so for that reason I don't communicate any aspects of my identity to anyone else. Everything I do I always seem to do it alone, and I hate that because deep down I crave some connection with someone.


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Originally Posted by analyticalan View Post
It sounds like you could have depression, which would explain your lack of satisfaction from everyday life and difficulty with finding the motivation to go to the gym.

Finding some hobbies would be a great way to combat depression. It sounds like the gym is something that you're interested in, so you could look into finding a personal trainer to stay motivated. You could also look into doing exercise in other forms that you find enjoyable, such as running and cycling.

I think it would be great for you to reconnect with your kids as seeing them each weekend would give you something to look forward to. You could look into developing a hobby that all three of you would enjoy.

You could consider going to a men's support group, where you would meet others who are going through similar hardships in life. In Australia, there's the Men's Shed program that provides a place for men to socialise with each other through their hobbies.
Thanks for your reply analyticalan. Yes I agree that as well as social anxieties/shyness I also suffer from depression (variable) and also general anxiety too. It links to what I said above, I'm depressed because I always have to do stuff alone. I try to motivate myself to do it, but I'm still alone and I hate that.

I'm interested in the gym because I feel small and childlike. I have been underweight and am a thin adult regardless of weight training. Without wanting to sound arrogant, I already know more than any personal trainer because I have researched the best approaches. I have also cycled, doing mountain biking for nearly 2 years. But again it was a loner activity. Whilst enjoyable and challenging, I struggled to keep motivated and to see value in the activity when I am only doing it for me. There is something here about me needing some sort of recognition for an activity to feel valuable to me.

Regarding my kids, its not by choice that I'm not seeing them. I'd had them every weekend for nearly 7 years now but I was wrongly accused of abusing them by their vindictive mother and now they won't see me. It is incredibly upsetting but at the same time these past 3 months, although often feeling very bored, have felt less stressful because I haven't needed to spend every waking moment looking after my kids. I know that sounds horrible, but having the kids takes up your whole life and I felt trapped by it.

Regarding your suggestion about a mens group. In all honesty, and I don't want this to sound arrogant, I don't really want to connect with any men. I don't feel the need to laugh and joke about the **** most men talk about. I don't make conversation, I don't have 'banter'. I do have some long standing friends, but I'm not the centre of the group. I just follow. I'm the one that just watches the group, listening to the stories about other members of the group that have more interesting (chaotic?) lives. I don't act the fool, and I can't have outward fun. I hope my descriptions ring a bell with people here because I don't know if I'm articulating it right. This is why I'm here, I want to try and understand why I am like this.


Quote:
Originally Posted by sad1231234 View Post
Life can be confusing often times, your mind can make you feel confused, etc. Try just figuring out what you want. Also, i find that sometimes settling with an identity just isnt really the way to go. Why settle with a certain particular identity, a set plan in life, etc, when you can just be flexible and adapt to whatever life throws at you? Just do what you enjoy and if you are afraid of rejection then do whatever feels most comfortable. Also, if you dont find pleasure in anything then you may be suffering from depression or anhedonia. Hope this helped.
Thanks for your reply sad1231234. I don't know what I want. Or maybe I do but what I want isn't achievable or is in conflict with myself. I strongly desire peace, tranquility and a stress free life. But I also get bored easily and then I desire liveliness, hustle and bustle, popularity. I find comfort in being alone and intimate with a girl I know well, or with a small circle of friends. At the same time I desire to be some kind of sex god, 'lad', full of confidence and banter picking up girls in bars.

Mostly I feel inadequate. Because everyone else has these things but I don't. I see what other people have and want to be them rather than me. Does that make sense?

I know there are positives in my life but I can't accept myself for who I am and I am not surrounded by anyone who thinks the way I do. I can't even articulate very well how I think, as is probably clear from the confusion in my writing.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-19-2017, 04:49 PM
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Well then find a balance or do what you feel like doing most when you feel like it. Yeah a lot of us can definately relate to wanting to be in other people's places in life. But i guess you just have to learn to be content with who you are at the same time of trying to improve yourself to be who you want to be. I mean we cant always be who we want or be two different things, unless we find some kind of balance or something. I often find that i want to live my life in two or more different ways, for example i strive to make my personality a certain thing that i want yet another part of me wants to do it differently. So i guess just whatever you feel like at the moment really, life is too short to waste in feeling scattered and lost all the time. And then its even worse if you feel bad for doing something which part of you wants yet another part of you wants something else, so just learn to be contwnt with whatever happens i guess. Hope my advice helps.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-20-2017, 04:15 PM
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Negativity being at the front of one's mind is a very common in this forum; if you feel isolated because you think you can't see the positives in you like anyone else, please don't because a lot of us feel that way. You may not be like most people but you are like some of us; the use 'everyone else' is an exaggeration we use too frequently. The same goes for having an interest that doesn't interest anyone else.

This is the singular issue of being a human is each of us are living only one perspectives and one life. Because of that, we are too ensconced in the workings of our own lives that we forgot that we are, as sadly as it sounds, not as special as we think we are. This is Water by David Foster Wallace comes to mind. There are other people who experience the same thing you experience; I wished I learnt that earlier. I'm sure you're already aware of that but at least, this could be a refresher for myself and anyone else.

What kind of interest do you have that doesn't interest anyone else?


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