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How Do I Stop Feeling Like a Failure?

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From a young man in the U.S.:  I don’t know what to do anymore now that I have graduated college. Honestly for over 10 years now I have only felt lonely, angry, and ashamed. It never bothered me before because I believed if I kept trying hard at school and work while pushing myself to join sports and clubs I’d eventually find friends, a place to fit in, or something I enjoy doing.

I’ve been pushing myself for over ten years now through both high school and college, but I’ve failed or been rejected at everything I’ve felt excited for. I didn’t make any of the many sports teams I tried out for, every girl I’ve ever pursued turned me down, every girl that has pursued me has dumped or cheated on me in less than a month, I can’t get anyone from friends to colleagues from work to go out or hangout with me when I make plans,

I’m struggling to find a job in computer science (my college major), and I’m still living at home. It is so hard to even talk to people my age or older because I’m lacking in so many experiences that people assume I’ve had cause I’m a relatively physically attractive and hard working person.

I have been seeing a therapist and understand that to help myself feel better I have to go out and do things I want, but it has been so long since I’ve felt excited for anything that I don’t even have anything I want anymore. I have no happy/exciting memories or situations from the past that I want to bring back into my life, nor do I have any negative memories or situations I want to avoid.

I have no life I’m attached to now, and feel like I’m facing a wall in trying to find anything to help build a life I’m attached to. I’ve lost all belief that as long as I keep trying, something good will happen. The only time I’ve felt alive in years is when I’m so drunk I don’t even remember my own name. The only friends I have, I made in middle school and hardly ever get to see. I’ve only had sex twice, both were while drunk and one was without my consent. I can’t sleep without dreaming about killing myself. What can I do when I have no wants or past to help guide me?

How Do I Stop Feeling Like a Failure?

Answered by on -


Thank you for writing. I hear your despair. I’m glad you are in therapy and I sincerely hope you have told him/her what you’ve shared in your letter.

You say you’ve been dealing with the same feelings since you were only 14 years old. Sadly, you didn’t get the help that you needed at the time. It worries me that you may still be in some ways stuck in your 14 year old self. It often happens when people have been hurt as much as you have been. You may have developed an idea of yourself that wasn’t true then and isn’t true now but that still informs how you think about yourself.

I hope you and your therapist are talking about the mistaken conclusions you reached as a teen and how you can go about approaching your problems differently.

You say that you have nothing in your past to guide you. That is completely untrue. At the very least, you know what ideas and behaviors haven’t helped you. That’s an important place to start. You and your therapist can examine the choices you have made and how they have been self-defeating. If you are willing to make changes, your therapist can provide support and guidance while you try out new ideas and new ways to function in the world.

You are intellectually very smart but emotionally stuck. I hope you will marshal your considerable intelligence to do some difficult therapeutic work. It takes courage to reconsider long held beliefs. It takes courage to consider new perspectives and to try out recommended actions. It will be hard but I bet you have what it takes to do it.

I wish you well.

Dr. Marie

How Do I Stop Feeling Like a Failure?

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2019). How Do I Stop Feeling Like a Failure?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 23, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 24 Oct 2019 (Originally: 25 Oct 2019)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 24 Oct 2019
Published on Psych All rights reserved.