Hi, well I am 19 years old and I am getting to a point I don’t know what to do anymore. Ever since I was younger I have never wanted to deal with my own issues, I have never focused on me. I would rather see others happy than myself so as a result I have the hardest time opening up to others. I feel like I interfere in other peoples lives all the time so I do not want to ask for anything. It has created many issues because no one feels like they can trust me, everyone feels like I am shady because I cannot open up.
My roommates took me aside today and basically questioned me the entire time but they do not understand it is not as easy as it looks. I do not know how to open up to them. I trust them fully but I do not want to bother others with my own problems, they have enough that they have to deal with.
I feel like people are always two-faced with me. I do not feel like I have any friends who like me fully, for who I am. However, that may be because since I hide myself from myself and others, I don’t even know who I am anymore. I hide behind anger and use others as a way to show myself.
I do not know what’s wrong with me. How do I help myself find who I am? How do I learn that it is okay to be emotional and show myself weak sometimes? I do not know what to do anymore, I feel like I shouldn’t be here because I am bothering others. Please help.
A: As you’ve already discovered, trying so hard to not bother your friends really, really bothers them. There must be something interesting about you or your roommates wouldn’t try to break through the way they did. In spite of yourself, there seem to be people who want to know you and give you a chance.
I suspect there are very good reasons why you learned to stay in the background and try to make others happy first. But here’s the thing about being very young: Kids are excellent, excellent observers of others’ behaviors – particularly others in their families. But they are also very poor interpreters of what is going on. They don’t have enough experience to see alternative reasons for people’s actions or to find alternative responses for themselves. Like everyone else, you did the best you could with what you knew at the time. Then that way of understanding and operating became a kind of habit.
I suggest you make an appointment to see a counselor at school for awhile. Counseling can give you a safe place to talk about what it was like when you were growing up. You’ll discover new things about yourself and new ways to function in the world. The fact that you have friends at all tells me that there is something positive in you to work from as your base. Now you need to nurture that core of yourself and let yourself grow. A counselor can give you both practical advice and support in the process.
I wish you well.