I’m 17 years old and I have a normal life. The problem, or problem(s) that I encounter most in my life are that of self esteem, loneliness or sadness. My parents work a lot, and when they aren’t working, they’re sleeping. Mainly my mother. We have a good relationship, but she does work a lot, and when she’s home, she’s tired or sleeping and when I feel like I can’t talk to her, I feel lonely and I feel like crying. Why?
Also, I have had strong feelings for a boy that goes to my church for years now, and maybe it’s because we grew up together and he’s all I know. I’ve never been in a relationship, I usually shy away from them. I’ve never had sex or anything related, I’ve never drank or smoked, never done anything, really. The problem is, I decided to come clean about liking him, and rather than turning me down, he gave me hope that he COULD like me. I felt happy for a while…until he told me that basically, he didn’t have any feelings for me.
After that, the self esteem issues grew. I began to feel like I wasn’t good enough for anyone, even though I get hit on quite a lot. I felt like I was too fat, or wasn’t pretty, and dumb. I have to see this boy at least twice a week during church and when I see him, I always contemplate being nice to him, being mean, or just ignoring him.I do one of those. I can’t seem to find stable ground when it comes to him…he told me that he cared about me but didn’t like me the way I liked him. What makes it worse is that he is never mean to me; he is always nice and reaching out to me, but I push him away because I don’t want to be embarassed or hurt.
A: Thank you for writing. I can tell you are in genuine distress. But the problem isn’t the guy or your mom. The problem is that you are too isolated. Since you don’t have a group of supportive, caring friends, your disappointment that your mother and the boy aren’t available to you is much bigger than it should be. As you said, your mom is tired because she is doing her best to support you. The boy was honest with you and still wants to be your friend. These are things to be grateful for.
Making friends isn’t as hard as you think. But you do need to stop waiting for them to just show up and start doing something to find them. You need to go where friends can be found. That means joining something where people have the same interests you have. It could be a video club, a theater group, a sport or a charity. It doesn’t matter what, as long as you really care about it and other people your age care about it too. The best way to get to know people is by doing something together. It takes the pressure off interacting because the focus is on getting something done, not on each other.
One more thing. There are plenty of teens who stay away from alcohol, smoking and drugs. For example: According to the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, only a little more than half (51.8 percent) of Americans aged 12 or older reported being current drinkers of alcohol. You don’t need to do drugs or have sex to “do something.” But you do need to expand your world, try new activities and meet new people.
Look around in your school and your community. Then take a deep breath and try out a few things. You may not find the perfect thing on the first try, or even the second or third. But if you keep exploring, you will eventually find a place that “fits.”
I wish you well.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 16 Jan 2014
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2014). Sad and Lonely. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/01/16/sad-and-lonely/