I feel like I've wasted my teen years - Page 2 - Social Anxiety Forum
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post #21 of 32 (permalink) Old 02-17-2021, 11:25 AM
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Originally Posted by truant View Post
I think this is an illusion created by hindsight. Everyone feels that they should have done more, and everyone feels partly to blame for their problems, but at every point in your past you were faced with a choice, and at each point you weighed the pros and cons, and at each point you decided (for whatever reason) that making those attempts wouldn't be worth it, or that it would only increase the amount of pain you were experiencing. At the time, you were always acting in a way designed to minimize the amount of pain you expected to experience. Because that's what the brain does: it protects you from pain. And often it uses a milder form of pain to protect you from what it predicts will be a bigger form of pain. You experience anxiety at the thought of socializing with others because that smaller pain (anxiety) protects you from a potential bigger pain (being publicly humiliated or rejected). So, the whole time you were "wasting" your teen years your brain was doing its best to minimize the amount of pain you experienced. Your brain, iow, was doing its job.

The problem here is not with your actions. The problem is with your expectations. And those expectations were almost certainly created when you were a very young child. Before you could even speak you probably came to expect pain from reaching out to others. And this prediction led to a pattern of avoidance. Those predictions probably had something to do with your autism and how other people related to you. There is no possible way that you, as a young child, could have had any responsibility for the formation of this prediction and its adaptive response. So there is very little you could have actually done about this. Even knowing that isolating yourself was bad, and feeling that you should be doing something to change it, will not, on its own, change the kinds of predictions your brain is making or the brain's reflex action of avoiding pain. Mental illnesses are like physical illnesses; we do not expect people to cure their own diabetes, and we should not expect people to cure their own anxiety. We have science, doctors, hospitals, parents, school counselors, and therapists for a reason.

Saying that you are not responsible for being where you are now does not mean that you are powerless or that you are not stuck with fixing the problem. You will have to do your best to address this issue, and you will have to do most of the work on your own. But blaming yourself for having a brain that avoids pain, for having experiences that set those expectations, and for avoiding situations that you predicted would create more pain than pleasure (which is completely rational, btw) is not going to help. The regret is something you are going to have to live with, but it's not too late to make changes, and your life is not over by any means. The brain is a powerful organ, and if it can find a better way to deal with your social anxiety or make better predictions it will. Most likely, you will need some kind of help for that. Like @SplendidBob , I recommend self-compassion (CFT) and CBT.
<3 this post. Explained much better than I could have.

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and we should not expect people to cure their own anxiety
Interesting. I do actually feel that this is the prevailing general attitude in society (it shouldn't be, obviously). Perhaps in a way that it doesn't seem to be any more with other mental health problems. Is that my own personal bias, or am I right?

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post #22 of 32 (permalink) Old 02-17-2021, 02:52 PM
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Interesting. I do actually feel that this is the prevailing general attitude in society (it shouldn't be, obviously). Perhaps in a way that it doesn't seem to be any more with other mental health problems. Is that my own personal bias, or am I right?
I don't think that's your personal bias. I think most people think that way. I think there are two main reasons for that.

First (and Guntrip makes a good argument for this in Schizoid Phenomena, Object Relations and the Self), people hate weakness (ie. fear) in themselves, and they hate to see it in others. It tends to create a feeling of disgust. Which is why historically we've treated 'cowards', 'yellow-bellies', etc., so harshly. We don't tend to have the same disgust reaction to other kinds of mental illness. Psychosis tends to create fear, we tend to feel pity toward depression, etc. Disgust, as you know, is a powerful emotion, and the response is usually a loss of empathy.

Second, the treatment for anxiety is usually some form of exposure therapy, which, to a lay person, sounds like "just do it." Even some therapists think about the problem that way. So the way we treat anxiety tends to reinforce the idea that the patient is personally responsible for having anxiety.

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The the other guy say he just wants "to scream at people when he is giving them therapy to just ****ing do it" "Face your fear." "even if it dosent work out you will feel better about yourself for trying and the only way to get over stuff is to expose yourself to it." But that people are "to big of p's to face their fears"
Ofc, anxiety, and treating anxiety, is actually very complex and the above attitude is asinine.

When I said that we should not expect anyone to cure their own anxiety what I meant was not that the patient doesn't have to do anything themselves, but that they shouldn't be expected to have the kind of insight and understanding of technique inside themselves already to solve the problem. That insight and those techniques have to come from other people, just like a knowledge of calculus has to come from other people. When we imply that people should "just do it" and "cure" their own anxiety through "exposure" we're basically expecting them to do something sort of equivalent to reinventing calculus. Most people are not going to be able to do that. It's taken specialists over a hundred years to acquire the knowledge we have about anxiety.

We need specialists to teach these skills to people who do not inherently know them. And supportive environments to learn them in would be nice, too. Most of the time we send these people right back into the environments that created the problem.

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post #23 of 32 (permalink) Old 02-18-2021, 03:35 AM
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I'll try to make my 20s better, but I feel so behind on everything compared to everyone else. Didn't hang out much with others, didn't have a first kiss or lost my virginity, didn't even have genuine friends that cared about me. I was like this sad eyesore wherever I went, always assuming people wanted the worst for me and judged me. Thing is, I'm not hideous or an ******* (though some people interpret quietness as rudeness) so I can only assume I developed this fear of other people from my overprotective mother.

I didn't even get a proper autism diagnosis till I was 19, so, a couple months ago. I never got the help I needed to better cope with social situations so it got worse and worse the more I tried to socialize. Knowing I'm autistic tho doesn't exactly help my situation, since even among other autistic people, I seem to still be an outcast who didn't properly enjoy his teens. Most of them did, I didn't.
Regret can be very painful. So can being an outcast. I often feel like I've wasted my entire life trying to be something I'm not. But every second you spend dwelling on what you've lost is a second you can't spend on making a better future. Lots of people don't lose their virginity until their 20s or later. You have time to turn things around.

An overprotective mother would certainly contribute to the negative predictions you make. My own mother wasn't overprotective, but she has always been very focused on the negative possibilities. She was always talking about how this or that kind of thing would hurt you or kill you or make you sick. I don't think it's a coincidence that I grew up afraid of basically everything.

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post #24 of 32 (permalink) Old 02-19-2021, 03:02 AM Thread Starter
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Regret can be very painful. So can being an outcast. I often feel like I've wasted my entire life trying to be something I'm not. But every second you spend dwelling on what you've lost is a second you can't spend on making a better future. Lots of people don't lose their virginity until their 20s or later. You have time to turn things around.

An overprotective mother would certainly contribute to the negative predictions you make. My own mother wasn't overprotective, but she has always been very focused on the negative possibilities. She was always talking about how this or that kind of thing would hurt you or kill you or make you sick. I don't think it's a coincidence that I grew up afraid of basically everything.
A lot of people might not have sex till they're in their 20s, for their own personal reason or like me, but the majority seems to do it during their teenage years even if it's only once. I've googled and only a small percentage of people from 20 to 25 are virgins, like, only 11%-5% and it gets even lower past 25. I feel terrible over it and can't help but beat myself up over it.

I wish I had tried to be more social when I was still in high school. I mean, sure, my "friends" constantly mocked me and stuff which only made me close myself in even more, being autistic didn't exactly help either which meant even more difficulty in interacting, but I feel like I should've TRIED something rather than accepting that I was just unsociable. Maybe tried talking with people at the bus stop or something, I keep telling myself I could've tried that even though I had 0 social skills. I just want to go back to being a kid before I had all these worries.
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post #25 of 32 (permalink) Old 02-19-2021, 03:56 AM
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A lot of people might not have sex till they're in their 20s, for their own personal reason or like me, but the majority seems to do it during their teenage years even if it's only once. I've googled and only a small percentage of people from 20 to 25 are virgins, like, only 11%-5% and it gets even lower past 25. I feel terrible over it and can't help but beat myself up over it.

I wish I had tried to be more social when I was still in high school. I mean, sure, my "friends" constantly mocked me and stuff which only made me close myself in even more, being autistic didn't exactly help either which meant even more difficulty in interacting, but I feel like I should've TRIED something rather than accepting that I was just unsociable. Maybe tried talking with people at the bus stop or something, I keep telling myself I could've tried that even though I had 0 social skills. I just want to go back to being a kid before I had all these worries.
We all feel that we could have done more. Hindsight is 20/20. It's always possible to see how we could have done things differently ... if only we'd known the future.

But the fact is, there was always something preventing you from acting back then. You predicted that things would turn out badly, or that reaching out wouldn't have made any difference, or you were just too tired or depressed or anxious that day to even think about it. I'm not saying that you couldn't have done things differently (we all could have); what I'm saying is that you have always acted in your own best interest, based on the best predictions you could make about probable outcomes based on the information you had available. If those predictions turned out not to be accurate, well ... there's no way you could have known that because you can't predict the future. It's not fair to punish yourself for something like that.

There is a very great danger in dwelling on what might have been. You can think more positively about your chance of success back then precisely because you can no longer do anything about it, so it no longer gives you anxiety to think about. It's safe to imagine that things might have worked out if only you'd tried harder. And you can use this current regret about the past as a way to avoid taking action now.

There is something you need to do now; it frightens you; and because it frightens you, you try to avoid it; one way to avoid it is by dwelling on your past and beating yourself up. As long as you're doing that, you don't have to do anything now. That lesser pain of beating yourself up about the past helps you avoid the bigger pain of taking action now. This is avoidance.

If you think things are different now because you're older, or you're not in school, those rationalizations are not going to hold up very well when you turn 30 and you think back about how you wasted your 20s. You see how this works? When you were a teenager, your reasons for not acting were every bit as solid and convincing as the reasons you have for not acting now. They were absolutely convincing, and they absolutely stopped you back then. Just as your reasons now are absolutely convincing, and they absolutely stop you now.

The only way to get out of this problem is to understand how all of this works.

I like your username, btw.

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post #26 of 32 (permalink) Old 02-19-2021, 04:18 AM Thread Starter
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We all feel that we could have done more. Hindsight is 20/20. It's always possible to see how we could have done things differently ... if only we'd known the future.

But the fact is, there was always something preventing you from acting back then. You predicted that things would turn out badly, or that reaching out wouldn't have made any difference, or you were just too tired or depressed or anxious that day to even think about it. I'm not saying that you couldn't have done things differently (we all could have); what I'm saying is that you have always acted in your own best interest, based on the best predictions you could make about probable outcomes based on the information you had available. If those predictions turned out not to be accurate, well ... there's no way you could have known that because you can't predict the future. It's not fair to punish yourself for something like that.

There is a very great danger in dwelling on what might have been. You can think more positively about your chance of success back then precisely because you can no longer do anything about it, so it no longer gives you anxiety to think about. It's safe to imagine that things might have worked out if only you'd tried harder. And you can use this current regret about the past as a way to avoid taking action now.

There is something you need to do now; it frightens you; and because it frightens you, you try to avoid it; one way to avoid it is by dwelling on your past and beating yourself up. As long as you're doing that, you don't have to do anything now. That lesser pain of beating yourself up about the past helps you avoid the bigger pain of taking action now. This is avoidance.

If you think things are different now because you're older, or you're not in school, those rationalizations are not going to hold up very well when you turn 30 and you think back about how you wasted your 20s. You see how this works? When you were a teenager, your reasons for not acting were every bit as solid and convincing as the reasons you have for not acting now. They were absolutely convincing, and they absolutely stopped you back then. Just as your reasons now are absolutely convincing, and they absolutely stop you now.

The only way to get out of this problem is to understand how all of this works.

I like your username, btw.
Trust me, I am planning to start socializing once the pandemic's over. I'm forcing myself to do exactly that, but I don't think I'll ever get at peace with myself and the choices I've made. I feel terrible for not taking the same risks other teenagers did, cause apparently, it worked for them. Sure, could've been different for me since I didn't know how to socialize but at least I would be learning.

People say their teen years suck, however, it seems like they still had good times. Meanwhile I went home from school to cry myself to sleep. I still can't get over the fact that I'm a virgin at 20 either, which only seems to further tell me everyone else had a good time in high school save for me.
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post #27 of 32 (permalink) Old 02-21-2021, 02:51 AM
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Recently turned 20, I mean, really recently. It feels so weird to finally think your teen years are over and I feel like I've wasted them. I'm not sure what caused me to be this scared of social interaction but it ultimately lead me to feel like I've wasted these young chapters of my life. I know it's the past and I can't change it and I should move on, but I seriously can't.

I got diagnosed with austim very recently and I feel like that probably explains. I wasn't good at socializing, so eventually, I developed social anxiety from it. I spent most of my teens on the repetitive cycle of waking up, school, home, spend time inside home, sleep, repeat. I didn't hang out with friends (to be fair they weren't very good friends either), I didn't date or fool around, I didn't have hobbies outside of home, I didn't have a part-time job, ever. I feel like **** over it, especially when that's all teens are depicted doing in movies/tv shows and what other people say of their teen times. They say it was the best time of their life.

I realise I'm still 20, I'm still young. Won't turn old till another 10-15 years. Have I spent the last 3 years of high school doing anything productive though? No. I'm 20, never had a girlfriend, never had genuine friends, never kissed or y'know. Something everyone else seemed to do but I didn't.

You should do something spontaneous once this pandemic is over.

I'm gonna do the same thing. I didn't regret how I spent my youth, but I definitely have wasted them lmao.
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post #28 of 32 (permalink) Old 02-21-2021, 09:15 AM
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People say their teen years suck, however, it seems like they still had good times. Meanwhile I went home from school to cry myself to sleep. I still can't get over the fact that I'm a virgin at 20 either, which only seems to further tell me everyone else had a good time in high school save for me.
The older you get, the more you realize it's not about getting laid, it's more about having a deep connection with someone who truly loves and accepts you for who you are. Of course when you're young and full of hormones and especially if people around you are constantly bragging about it like teenagers usually do you think sex is the most important thing, it's not.
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post #29 of 32 (permalink) Old 02-22-2021, 12:06 AM Thread Starter
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You should do something spontaneous once this pandemic is over.

I'm gonna do the same thing. I didn't regret how I spent my youth, but I definitely have wasted them lmao.
Honestly I only think I wasted my teen years because everyone, even tv shows, keeps saying they hanged out with friends, had girlfriends and hooked up and etc. I'm planning to start trying out those things once the pandemic's over.

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The older you get, the more you realize it's not about getting laid, it's more about having a deep connection with someone who truly loves and accepts you for who you are. Of course when you're young and full of hormones and especially if people around you are constantly bragging about it like teenagers usually do you think sex is the most important thing, it's not.
I'm aware there's more to life than sex and getting laid. I can't help but feel weird for being behind those of my age though. Most people had friends they hanged out with, a girlfriend or girls they slept with. I did none of that even, not even hanging out with friends.
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post #30 of 32 (permalink) Old 02-23-2021, 11:37 PM
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I'm aware there's more to life than sex and getting laid. I can't help but feel weird for being behind those of my age though. Most people had friends they hanged out with, a girlfriend or girls they slept with. I did none of that even, not even hanging out with friends.
Yeah I totally get that feeling, it sucks. I'm just saying sex shouldn't be a priority for people in this kind of a situation. Compared to the things that really matter and fulfill you in life, that's a side issue. Of course it's a beautiful aspect of life that you miss out on but realistically it's not something that's attainable for you right now, so you shouldn't think about it too much. You need to focus on working towards goals that are realistically within your reach right now. It could be very small things that bring you out of your comfort zone. Seek out the social situations that make you uncomfortable, over and over and get used to them to learn being more comfortable around others. You gradually build up social skills that way and depending on where you are currently that can take many years. It can feel like you're fighting an uphill battle sometimes but that's the only way to get there. I know this all too well and I should work more on it myself but at the moment I don't think I have it in me and prefer hiding inside.
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post #31 of 32 (permalink) Old 02-24-2021, 03:50 AM
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I haven't read all the responses so someone might of said this already but...I was caught up in the cycle of regret for what felt like a lost past...almost like I was grieving for it.


At some point I realized I can't change that, but if I spend the next 10 years stuck in this cycle instead of living I'm going to be right where I'm at now thinking the same thing 10 years from now.


I had to let it go so I could move forward I guess.


I had to make a decision to find ways to take action in a direction that I wanted to go in life and my first goal was finding ways to overcome social anxiety so I could enjoy the thing I wanted in life more and I did. Still am taking action most days in the direction I want to head, not perfect and I have days when I feel they sort of went to waste but I try to go easy on myself.
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post #32 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-02-2021, 04:18 PM
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The people attitude wasted my 20's, because they refused to give me a job to make an income. These people with attitude's shouldn't be qualified for a job, because they're not sane enough to work. While I'm well dressed and well spoken. I respect people and behave in a polite manner.

After graduating High School at age 19 years old, I was forced to leave NYC to live in motels in Florida. The Multi-Agent Quantum A.I Computers made sure that my family develop a negative attitude towards me, so I can strave to death in motels. I'm being punished for knowing what people don't know. I don't even have a criminal record, and a person from jail or prison can score a job, income, house, and a girlfriend/Wife.

I'm not going to have any social security benefits, because of the people behavior. How am I supposed to retire when I get old?

Never had a career, never had an income, never had a girlfriend, regardless of how many times I tried. The people have the same mentality, perception and belief about me since I was a child. The people behavior and communication induces my social anxiety and depression.

The A.I Computers/NSA engineers use a computational intelligence system to design a mentality by translating key/cryptographic key information into thoughts, logic, and emotions that are fake to manage humanity 24/7.
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