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Please help - very long. Desperate.

93 replies

PamplemousseRouge · 21/07/2017 21:05

Sorry this is long.

I really struggle to 'sell' myself in professional situations and don't really like talking about myself in other situations as I just feel really unconfident and nervous. This is getting more of a concern as I get older. The idea of dating as well terrifies me, as I don't really feel lovable or interesting or anything like that (currently don't have a partner and have never actually had a relationship).

I've been doing an online CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) course along with phone counselling (I was referred by a GP for counselling last year) , but it hasn't really helped that much and I just feel myself slipping back into my old ways. It feels so so frustrating.

I've got into a habit of constantly apologising and saying 'sorry' (usually in a situation where I don't need to apologise). I've done this since I was a teenager, and am finding it hard to break the habit.

When I was still at school and at university, I thought that confidence would come with time and that, when I achieved things or when I did something that I was proud of, this would help my confidence and self-esteem. This has helped, but not all that much.

I'm getting a bit more concerned now I've graduated from university and looking for jobs. It just seems so cut-throat and I really don't have a thick skin at all. I had a job interview today where the interviewers were talking about the importance of having a thick skin in their job in general and it got me thinking about how I can learn to be more resilient and more confident.

The interview was fucking awful. I didn't sell myself at all, and felt really intimidated to be honest. I think I came across as really straight-laced and boring, while the firm seems to very trendy, current and a bit cut-throat really. I just went to pieces in the interview and didn't express myself well at all - got very nervous and started rambling and not answering the questions at all. It was an absolute car crash.

I actually started a teacher training course last year, and resigned from it. It broke me completely as I didn't have (or develop) the resilience needed to make it. It was awful. (Have posted before about the teacher training under this name).

Growing up, I was basically taught to be a 'people-pleaser' by my family. Although my Mum has always said to me how important it is to be resilient and to be thick-skinned, she never really explained to me or showed me in practice how to be thick-skinned. (This is just for context and background).

I'm seriously starting to think ill never get a job or have a relationship (am 25). Not catastrophising, this is just my current feeling. Don't know what the fuck to do with my life. Literally no clue. Have had careers advice since February from a careers coach (arranged through my counselling), but when I've applied for jobs, I've either not got enough experience to do them or I've applied and not heard back or I'll have an interview (like today) and completely blow it.

For context, I went to a girls' school until I was 16. Literally had no idea how to talk to boys. I was always encouraged to prioritise school work and grades by my parents and had after-school activities every night and sometimes on weekends. Never had any friends round as I was always doing schoolwork or activities, and didn't really have many friends at school as I was so shy and unconfident.

University was much, much better - have lovely friends from there who I still keep in touch with. I went to a very, very academic university though, and we were told to focus on our degrees. I really enjoyed my degree and did quite a lot other extra-curricular stuff as well, which I also really enjoyed, but there was a lot of pressure put on us from the university to do well.

My current situation is thatI have to move out of the (London) flat I'm in a couple of weeks, as the contract finishes soon. My parents have offered for me to move back home, which is really kind and I do appreciate it. Unfortunately, the town where they live and where I grew up doesn't really have any opportunities at all and I really don't know what I'll do.

I also don't drive, as my eyesight is really bad and I can't read car number plates within the required distance, even though I've been told by opticians (and tested by opticians) to make sure my eyesight is good enough for driving. I feel so frustrated with myself.

My parents are also both fairly elderly (in 70s), and I really don't want to put a strain on them abd they already do so much to help me. I really want them to be in a position where they feel that I'm in a goood, stable position so they don't have to worry about me.

All of my other close relatives are really successful and doing very well, and I feel like such a failure.

Please please help :(

OP posts:
chips4teaplease · 21/07/2017 21:07

Flowers for a start.
25 isn't anywhere near as old as you think it is. Many, many people don't get their lives in any kind of order they want until long after that.

chips4teaplease · 21/07/2017 21:08

Don't let the teaching dent your confidence - I did it for ages, I wasn't resilient either and the pain was horrendous. You're better off out of that one. So that's a positive not a negative.

PamplemousseRouge · 21/07/2017 21:08

Thanks chips Flowers I feel so so down.

I'm meant to be going away from tomorrow for a week, but really don't feel like it. Is it too late to cancel? Do you think I can lie and say I'm ill? Really struggling.

OP posts:
Mustardnowletsnotbesilly · 21/07/2017 21:09

Have you thought about applying for jobs abroad? Great life experience and a confidence builder for me! New people, adventure and fun!

chips4teaplease · 21/07/2017 21:10

Keep up with counselling, and try different kinds. There are all sorts of sources. My local authority subsidised counselling for people in the area - that was really good, weekly. The gp you've already tried but try again later. I'm on my 11th counsellor and my life has improved beyond measure but it didn't happen overnight.

chips4teaplease · 21/07/2017 21:11

Where are you going? Would it make you feel worse to be there? If not it might be a good idea to give it a go.

chips4teaplease · 21/07/2017 21:12

Two elastic bands on the left wrist (if you're right handed) and flick your wrist with them every time you are about to say sorry. 'Oh, goodness' makes a good substitute and is non-committal. :)

mumonashoestring · 21/07/2017 21:13

You're putting an awful lot of pressure on yourself. A few brief things: no-one graduates with bulletproof confidence and waltzes into a job, everyone is shit scared at interviews and spends their first few days/weeks in the job floundering around feeling like they don't deserve to be there, confidence does come with time but only if you're spending that time doing things that build your confidence (if that makes sense!).

You're 25, you're at the start of the path comparing yourself with people who are well along it.

In job terms, you've already identified something that isn't the right career for you. It might not feel like it but that is a good thing, as is knowing when to cut your losses and move on from something that isn't working. What kind of jobs are you applying for? What kind of jobs do you think you'd like to be applying for?

MrsHathaway · 21/07/2017 21:14

I was worried for you until you said 25. You have lots of time. For jobs, for relationships, everything.

I have a small piece of advice about being constantly apologetic, and it's something I recently discovered and am trying myself. Almost always when we do that reflex "sorry" it's actually an opportunity to say "thank you" instead, which is a much more pleasant interaction. "Sorry" makes us think we should be annoyed whereas "thank you" makes us smile.

"Sorry for keeping you waiting" becomes "thank you for waiting". Thank people for patience, consideration, tact, good humour, etc, because it's a stealth compliment and people like spending time with people who make them feel good about themselves.

chips4teaplease · 21/07/2017 21:15

I seem a lot more confident than I feel but that's because I'm old and I've run out of fucks. So people who expect me to give a fuck can be disappointed in me and I don't care. Steeling yourself to disappoint/upset/surprise/unnerve people might help. I still get into difficulties but mostly, I think 'Oh' and move on. Practise blocking anything bad from your memory.

chips4teaplease · 21/07/2017 21:16

It's ok to be sensitive. It's nice. You're a nice person. That's a positive.

chips4teaplease · 21/07/2017 21:18

Find things you like to do and do them. Men will arrive. If you're going about being ok about being yourself, they come flocking. Really.

Foxley11 · 21/07/2017 21:19

You sound SO similar to how I was (and still can be now, sometimes) when I got out of uni. I was terrified of life in general. I rolled into the same minimum wage job I'd been doing since I was 12 (horses) and felt I had nowhere to go, no clue where to go even if I could, and no "safe base" from which to figure out life.
I'm now very happy, nearly 10 years on! It took a few years after the sheltered life of uni for me to find my feet, but I did. Don't despair, it might take time for you too. You're still young!

chips4teaplease · 21/07/2017 21:21

Go back to your parents, on the understanding that it's short term until you find a job. You could work anywhere. The world is your oyster...
Talk to opticians again about the driving. Perhaps they can tweak your prescription to improve things for you.

PamplemousseRouge · 21/07/2017 21:22

Thanks Mustard Flowers I would love to work abroad, but have no idea what to apply for.

I would actually love to move to France or Belgium. I did French and Spanish at university, and absolutely love French. I started a blog a few months ago about French culture, but haven't really felt motivated to update it.

With Britain leaving the EU though, I'm not sure how wise it is for me to apply for jobs in Europe. I'm not sure which jobs to go for.

I feel really, really lost with careers and applying for jobs. I've asked for loads of advice from people, but still don't know what I want to do. I've always wanted to go into journalism, partly because I really love writing, but everyone's saying that it's silly to go into it as it's so competitive and changing so much. I did quite a few journalism internships at university, but don't have the money to keep on working for free again unfortunately.

I actually had an interview for a PR job (the interview from hell as mentioned above) and they asked why I wanted to go into PR and communications as I had a background in journalism. I couldn't answer their question as I didn't know why Blush I really wanted the job with them as I've got to find a job ASAP to pay the bills and stay in London. I don't even know what the fuck PR is Blush The fact I didn't really have a clear passion for it came through in the interview. When the feedback from the interview come though, it's going to be so embarrassing Blush

I really, really want to do a job that helps people (part of the reason why I went into teaching). I've also become really interested in politics, but I'm not sure how useful that is. Anyone wit experience in politics? I'm really passionate about educations but can't face teaching again. It just seems like no one will employ me because (and this is totally understandable) I don't have the experience.

I really, really don't want this to come across like I'm feeling sorry for myself. I just feel quite down.

OP posts:
chips4teaplease · 21/07/2017 21:25

Comparison is the thief of joy. Don't compare yourself with anyone. If others compare you with anyone, say 'What does it matter? They are them, and I am me.'

I hope you will be ok. Remember these feelings pass. I was talking about that yesterday with dd (35) and saying that depression (I'm a depressive, it doesn't mean you are) passes. It really helped me to realise that, and the depression doesn't have the grip on me it used to have. I'm not so afraid of feeling low because I know it will pass.

Practical tips - a walk, or go swimming, or go to an art gallery. It feels hard work before, pointless while you're doing it and you feel great afterwards.

Wishing you good things.

Realitysandwich1 · 21/07/2017 21:25

Confidence comes with time and an understanding that nothing really bad will happen when you bomb a few interviews, muck up dates etc.

Feeling like a fraud at work or in interviews or cv writing is a very common feeling - I hate job applications as I wonder why my cv looks so bad, often but somehow it works out.

2017SoFarSoGood · 21/07/2017 21:26

oh dear, you are being so very hard on yourself. 25 is quite young - there is so much time to come into yourself, and to figure out what you want. Once you are more comfortable with you it is quite likely that you will find men flocking to you - and will have to prod them with sticks to get room to move Grin

I really do hope you go away on your trip tomorrow, and use the time to be kind to yourself. Whatever that feels like, do it. Never mind anyone else, just you. They do say a change is as good as a rest - and this might just be both.

Sending you a big hug and Flowers

Aquamarine1029 · 21/07/2017 21:26

First of all, don't stay home. That's the worst thing you can do. Go away for the week and use that time to get out of your own head. Secondly, I don't think moving back home will be good for you at ALL. It will be far too easy to remain trapped inside the mental prison you have built that is keeping you from appreciating who you are. You have described yourself as someone who is completely incapable of succeeding in adult life. This is just absolutely NOT true, and you have already proved it. You did wonderfully at university and made good friends. An inept person wouldn't have done that.

You are only 25 years old. The truth is, no one knows who they really are at that age. You are just BEGINNING to figure out who you are, and by insisting on labeling yourself as shy, not confident, and incapable is nothing but detrimental and counterproductive.

You are going to fail just as many, if not more, times as you will succeed. Don't be afraid of failure. You will learn far more from your missteps than getting it right every time.

Lastly, the number one way you will succeed in staying inside this mental prison of yours is to avoid things that make you uncomfortable. So what if that interview was a total fucking train wreck? The worst thing that can happen is that you didn't get the job. Now you can look back on it and learn from it. You say you don't know how to talk to men. That's ridiculous. You talk to women, correct? People are people. Their sex is irrelevant. You can do any damn thing you set your mind to.

EezerGoode · 21/07/2017 21:31

VSO....the world is your oyster x

PamplemousseRouge · 21/07/2017 21:32

I just wonder if I've got learning difficulties (or am just stupid and lazy?) because I can't seem to cope with normal things that everyone copes with.

OP posts:
EezerGoode · 21/07/2017 21:33

Look it up on lineVSO

AntiGrinch · 21/07/2017 21:36

I think teaching is one the toughest things you could have tried. don't take the fact that it didn't work out for you as some kind of indication of a general pattern. It really isn't. I would say nearly everyone can't hack teaching. I certainly couldn't.

Getting into PR is incredibly competitive and it is full of people who are very, very confident and determined. Frankly to even get an interview to go into PR with no experience is an incredible achievement.

I think you need to think much harder about what you want to do rather than what you can do (which trickles too easily into thinking about what you can't). have you had proper open ended conversations about this with your career advisor? Is this person any good for your sort of situation?

I have experience of some careers advisors who are very task orientated - "what could these skills fit? find this person a job" - which is useless when you need help to find your happy niche. Do you need to find someone else to help you?

As you have correctly identified, personality is hugely important in whether you can be happy enough in any given field to thrive in it. There are such things as born analysts, born sales people, born teachers even. Your temperament is perfect for something - but you sound like you need help to find out what.

Don't give up. you are obviously clever, articulate, honest, sincere, hardworking, academic, and prepared to commit. You are an absolute gift to the right organisation. Honestly.

Twillow · 21/07/2017 21:36

High pressure jobs like teaching and PR don;t sound ideal for you and would probably exacerbate your low self-confidence. Comparing yourself to naturally outgoing people is always going to make you feel inadequate. Writing however, sounds good - what about copy-writing? With your journalism experience you could be snapped up for work.
Know when to get out of any social situation that is making you feel down, but also try to lose the fear of saying yes to things, and trying hard to forget about what people think of you. Do go on holiday, have some little adventures and be proud of each step you take, without letting failures knock you back. They happen to the over-confident brash people too, they are just so much less introspective about it!

oldfatandstressed · 21/07/2017 21:40

Everyone struggles with self confidence (some of us more than others) and the people you think have really got it together are also really anxious, they're just more practised at pretending and hiding it. What really helps me is being a character that I know I would be if I weren't so anxious, I've been doing it so long- being myself, but a braver version of me, that sometimes I can forget how anxious I am. Find what works for you and have a go...there is nothing to lose! Good luck, you have plenty of time before you get to an age when you're supposed to have everything figured out!

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