I Don't Belong

I often have this thing where I don't feel like I belong in life as I know it on earth. Sure, I might seem human and even look human, but I'm really some weird sort of subspecies. In a world where people show up to work on time, go to college and get degrees, pay their bills on time, hold down jobs, and have long term relationships, I'm one of the losers who struggles with the basics. I'm a profoundly low functioning adult who's also extremely intelligent and talented. But I struggle to fit into life.

 I've tried college, three times. Out of those three attempts I've only completed one class (in which I got an A). I dropped out of all the rest.

My longest term of employment was two years and three months. I was fired from the job for a mistake I made in the code. Granted, it was a bullshit excuse (they were looking for excuses to fire people, to put off laying off people as long as possible--which occurred two months later anyway), but nevertheless... It wasn't a big loss anyway; well, the paycheck was, but I was miserable there anyway. My job had gone from being all about being innovative, to being all about cookie-cutting. They didn't need my analytical skills, and out-of-the-box thinking capacity.

Since then I've worked a variety of jobs that largely bore me out of my mind. With the exception of the job I had managing a theater (which was fun), most of the jobs I held before the programming job (and since the programming job) have been routine-oriented type jobs. Like now, I work at an airport, as a lineguy: which means that I refuel jets (private and commercial). It's labor, basically.

Today my supervisor (a really nice guy) took me aside and talked to me. He told me that he really likes me and wants me to be happy there, and successful, but he has some concerns. His (and my co-workers) concerns were about my tardiness, my apparent laziness and lack of enthusiasm (probably one and the same: I seem lazy because I'm bored and unenthused), and my smoking. The thing is, I've always found it extremely challenging--if not impossible--to force myself to be enthused about something I'm bored with. When I become familiar with the routines and processes of most labor jobs I get rapidly bored, disinterested, etc. Soon I start making mistakes, and it's all downhill from there.

I know that the only (theoretically, anyway) road to a better life is college. But I have very little patience with the college b.s. Or, rather, I think I'd do fine if I could just go to college full-time. In the past it's been the other pressures in my life that derailed my college attempts. I'm kind of a one-track mind kinda guy...in that I like to do one thing at a time (work or school). I'm also pretty skeptical that a college degree would just make my life instantly better. Would it fix the fact that I'm almost habitually late? or that I don't pay my bills on time and have horrible credit? or get bored with most jobs quickly? I'm highly neurotic when I'm at my most successful.

At that programming job I was (apparently) recognized as the most brilliant, fastest coder in my department. Yet, my neurosis made me hard to have around. I resisted the typical workday, resisted fitting into the corporate molds they tried forcing on me...I couldn't seem to understand how to be a responsible, mature, accountable employee--at least in whatever sense they envisioned one as. I remember, even still, them telling me to establish a consistent schedule and stay in better contact with my project managers, and blah blah blah. Grrrr. I tried, I really did. But I just never seemed to meet their expectations, or make my behavior acceptable. I'd always get the tasks done I was given, and quickly. My code was also very clean, and very efficient; but in the end it was corporate stuff that got me.

I still don't know how to be normal. I know what normal looks like, but I don't know how those people got to be normal, and how I could become normal myself.

What room is there in the world for non-normal people? people who didn't get the memo; people who feel like everyone else was given the Instruction Book to Life and we missed out.

I've had so many jobs by this point in my life that I'm exhausted. I think I've had somewhere around 50 unique jobs. FIFTY! That averages out to 4 a year since I started working at the age of sixteen.

I'm spacey, easily bored, brilliant, analytical, talented, creative, sensitive, tardy, willful, funny, and I love people. What job(s) would be good for me?

I love writing, movies (and making movies), computers (programming, etc.), etc.

I need to understand how I can fit into life and do reasonably well even with all the challenges of my quirkiness.
liferiot liferiot
26-30, M
26 Responses Sep 20, 2006

well you are every intresting.. Id say. First off normal is somthing different to each of us. Its kinda like that saying beauty is in the eye of the beholder, or life is what you make of it, you cant tell me that you havent seen anyone weirder then you, and if so you need to get out more... you will find your dream job the day that you want it so bad, it hits you in the face..

I don't know what normal is either.

There are a place for people like you in this world and in the age of technology, I think the blogging idea would be great! You can tur your failures into a very funny and eye opening blog about your experiences and even continue to have more experiences which can branch out into many subsets of ideas- you get advertsising to pay the bills after you build a nice following. You need to use your computer and creative skills to carve out your own existance or you will lead a very unhappy and unfulfilled life. Anti-depressants or anti-anziety meds won't hurt, maybe even an ADD diagnosis can be looked into but I have yet to find a cure for the morning bug/on-time bug except find a job where you are the boss and make sure you can motivate yourself to work hard. haha

Had to join this site becuase of your post. I have some of the same issues. I'm what psychologist call an underachieving genius. I get bored easy. I dislike routine.

I am in the same boat as you. Lots of jobs, genius IQ, late payments (even if the money is there),attempts at college, not fitting in with the world. I don't even WANT to fit in. I have an appointment in two weeks with a psychiatrist. I have found out that my 7 year old child is ADHD, and his pediatrician told me "the apple don't fall too far from the tree". So I started researching ADHD, and alot of these symptoms, in fact, all of them, are symptoms of ADHD. I hope I have found my answer, and I hope you find yours.

The real problem is that you are NORMAL! :) You just dont see it. I too slug on thing like that too, paying bills, keeping entertained. Just nobody wants to admit it... so you actually fit in, but no one will tell you that. :)

Hi, <br />
I know exactly what you are going through. I have two sons with this . One has two professional degrees and the other is just now completing a course in HVAC. They are 28 and 36 years of age. They were diagnosed with schizo-affective disorder. Both now are doing well on medication. Please see someone at your mental health clinic. My wonderful intelligent sons are now functioning well. It has been terrible for a Mom to see her boys go through this.<br />
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Take Care and Good Luck<br />

I am mom to a high-functioning autistic and it sounds like you are as well. Even if you are not, you share a LOT of the same experiences that they go through. Get in touch with some Asperger's groups and they could be very helpful.

I am mom to a high-functioning autistic and it sounds like you are as well. Even if you are not, you share a LOT of the same experiences that they go through. Get in touch with some Asperger's groups and they could be very helpful.

Wow, thanks to everyone who continues to stop by my story and comments on it! <br />
<br />
Things have been rocking and rolling and mostly staying the same here in me-land. But, I suppose most progress is like that--pretty slow, glacially slow...which has certainly been my experience. My first (and only, so far) wife didn't understand that progress within a person (me, that is) is slow at best. It irritated her to no end. I'd keep trying to tell her that all systems were operational, and that I was making progress (albeit slowly), but she refused to buy it. She wanted fast-food, American style progress; i.e., right now style progress. When it didn't work that way she eventually wanted a refund or exchange. <br />
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Another key reality that I'm becoming more mindful of is that we all grow up with overblown expectations of what our life as a grown up will look like. We all err on the side of fantasy: surely my life will be much better than my parents' lives! Then again, my dad retired at 52, so maybe there's a reason for my being a little unrealistic. That aside, I'm finding that many people that I know have far different lives now then they thought they would when they were younger. You could argue that they fell far short of their aspirations. <br />
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I've mentioned it before--maybe not in this story, but certainly in others--that my internal strife right now is between what I see as "growing up" and accepting the world of responsibility, normalcy, and reality; versus continuing to pursue my dreams--potentially ending up as a 40+ year old washed out guy working the graveyard shift at Walmart. If the latter happens, it'd by default also likely mean that I'd failed in attaining my dreams of a wife, kids, a house of our own, and a dog. That's a frightening possibility. <br />
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Yet, I'm also not even sure if there's really an option for me. I've tried fighting off my dreams. That's another aspect of why my first marriage didn't work out: I tried repressing my dreams in favor of a "normal" life. All the ended up happening is that my normal life went down the tubes and resentment mounted within me. So it would probably be unwise of me to try to talk myself out of my ambitions again. It just sounds so darn presumptuous to say that I want (and intend) to be a writer, director, actor, comedian, producer person. Everyone says they want to be one or more of those. So when you say that you want to be one or more of those things it's equivalent to saying "I wanna be." Hence where the term "wanna be" came from. The difference is, for some people, they really feel compelled to be those things--or some version of them. Maybe I won't end up being the actor/director/producer/comedian/writer that I have idealized in my mind, but I certainly feel compelled to be something of an actor/director/producer/comedian/writer. <br />
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It's hard to own up to what I want to be to people. I feel like they look at me and say something like: geez, he's almost thirty without any creative success to speak of, and what he really needs to do is just get real and move out of his parents house and get a degree and settle down somewhere. <br />
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For me that's not an option though. As embarrassing as it is to be a determined blue-collar creative type at nearly thirty--this seems to be the path that I was born to. Either that or it's the path that I chose at a very young age. I've always wanted to be a writer, and I think that I'll want to be a writer until the day I die, so I'd better just get on with it.<br />
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The solution, I think, is to begin creating creative habits. Twyla Tharp, in her book, The Creative Habit (which I've been reading), reminds us that all the great creative people in the past were only great because they had habits that nurtured and tapped into their creativity. Mozart gave so much to attain his mastery of music that his fingers were misshapen. She argues that all creative production and success is a result of the right habits. She should know as she is one of the premier choreographers in the world.<br />
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With that in mind, I've started building some habits for myself. I write for ten minutes every day, free form, when I wake up. I keep a notebook on me at all times for funny observations...I write at least a paragraph a day on one of my writing projects. It doesn't have to be a good paragraph, just *A* paragraph. <br />
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Do I yet feel like I belong? Like I have a clue as to what I'm doing here on Earth? Not necessarily, but maybe that's part of the point. It certainly is something that I seem to share with many many people. If we all have it in common, maybe it isn't a bad thing. Maybe it's the way nature intended us to be. Maybe it's this sense of disquiet that causes us to grow: biologically, emotionally, mentally. Maybe the intention is to force us to find our place.<br />
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Maybe part of our common sense of being lost is that we're all listening to others' expectations too much. For those who have felt lost like I have, I might suggest trying to freeform write out everything you feel others expect of you. Or, maybe just write out all the expectations you feel. Then go back through and make a list from that freeform writing; then go through that list and decide whether the expectation is yours, or external (from family, friends, etc.), and then whether or not it has to mean what you've been lead to believe it means. For example: it's easy to think that we all want stability. Maybe upon closer inspection we realize that the only reason we think we want stability is because culturally we're told that we should want stability; and, to a degree that expectation has become so ingrained in us that we've lost the capacity to realize that it isn't one of our own expectations. If you can do this exercise with your list of expectations you may come away with a better sense of who you are and what you want then you previously had. For me, doing this exercise meant facing the reality that I don't really want the rest of my dreams (wife, kids, house, traveling, etc.) unless I can have them in addition to my umbrella dream of being creatively fulfilled. If I could have all those other things, guaranteed, but in order to do so I'd have to give up my creative aspirations and be a garbage truck driver the rest of my life, it simply wouldn't work for me. I'd hate it. I'd only love having those dreams occur if they occur in the context of seeing my creative aspirations fulfilled. <br />
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Anyway, things are going well. I still have my down moments when I feel lost, waylaid, confused, and lonely; but I think overall I'm still making decent--if slow--progress. Thanks for your kind comments and compliments.

Your story is so well written! I would agree with some of the other people who mentioned that you could be great at writing a professional blog, screen writing, or film producing! <br />
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Good luck! How's it been going since you wrote your story?

Work at a start-up company. The hours are wacky and no two days are ever quite the same...

Babara Sher has written some excellent books on how to create work that suits you, rather than trying to find a job that fits (which sounds like it might well be impossible in your case!).<br />
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Take a look at either<br />
Refuse To Chose! http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1594863032/qid=1137700399/sr=8-1/ref=pd_bbs_1/103-4524712-8792631?n=507846&s=books&v=glance<br />
or<br />
I Could Do Anything If Only I Knew What It Was<br />
http://www.amazon.com/Could-Anything-Only-Knew-What/dp/0440505003/ref=pd_sim_b_1/105-4043537-9337253<br />
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The latter is my current favourite book. Her style is engaging and easy to read, but best of all she is frank and never condescending, and never lets you offer up all your usual excuses and procrastinatory strategies. To the extent that you clearly have a highly plastic and extremely capable intelligence, I think you'll get more out of it than I did! It's not so much self-help as a bit of sage advice and a gentle but firm shove in the right direction from someone who's spent a good portion of her life helping people find their paths. <br />
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And no, I have no connections at all with the author, publisher etc. It's just something that I found really useful, and I recognised your story as being very similiar to some of the ones she deals with.

My therapist told me that "normal" is a setting on a washing machine. Meaning there is no such thing as a "normal" person. You didn't miss the memo, there was no memo.

Wow, CrystalCat pretty much hit the nail on the head--though I feel that all the comments I've received have been incredibly insightful. I understood CrystalCat to be saying that I'm not actually as arrogant as I came off (when describing my skills/attributes) but that I'm actually the exact opposite (low self-esteem and confidence). Crystal is exactly right. I pretend (often) to being far more confident and having far more esteem for myself than I do have. Underneath though I lack both and so I date women far beneath my "standards," and keep friends around that make me look good. I guess it'd probably be hard on my being around equals, but maybe that's exactly what I need. I guess I've avoided doing so for fear that I'd lose what little esteem I have for myself. <br />
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Someone else mentioned comedy. What's really funny about that is that I've actually thought of being a standup comedian. In fact, right now, more than anything I think that's what I'd love to do. I LOVE making people laugh. Nothing makes me happier. Sometimes I can keep people in stitches; though other times I'm boring as hell. I guess I don't even know where to start...but I think there's "comedy schools" out there which I've looked into. I think that if I developed my talents then maybe I might be a good comedian. <br />
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ADD? I've actually been diagnosed with it (ADHD Inattentive Subtype) but I'm not sure I believe in ADD as being a real disease. Obviously there's something going on with people who "have" ADD, but I'm not sure if it's diet or what. I tried the medications the psychiatrist prescribed...they didn't do anything. Nadda. Even at maximum dosage they didn't even give me diarrhea. Disappointing, I know. So, maybe I have it, maybe drugs would be helpful, but the ones I tried did nothing. Sucky. Just my luck to be one of the few, the ignominious, the one's who aren't assisted by drugs. <br />
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Antidepressants. I've been on them, but--proudly--I'm off of them today. I'm not sure if they were even working there at the end for me. Regardless, now I feel like I get more out of life. I have much higher highs and, of course, much lower lows. But it all feels much more authentic. I also enjoy feeling like I'm handling things on my own and that I don't need the crutch of the pill. Also, I found the expense of the medication more stressful than being "depressed."<br />
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Thanks so much for everyone who has commented so far...and to everyone who will yet comment!

I feel the same way. Like I'm late with life or something. I'm 26, just finished college and still working some old boring bs Job because I feel like I don't belong in a better one or something. I feel lost and I do feel like I did not get the hand book on making life and choices work

Have you ever though about maybe starting your own in home computer programming buisness? That way if you want you could go to school and set your own hours to work.

I think what CrystalCat said is somewhat right and somewhat wrong. She was right that maybe you lack the self-confidence to quit your self-sabotaging attitude. Why don't you feel you deserve success? Stop betraying yourself. <br />
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Where she's wrong is her perception that you think you have an 'edge' i.e. you're better than your co-workers, job, etc. Obviously if you really thought you were the next best thing since sliced bread, we wouldn't be reading this entry. You have a lot of self-doubt about your abilities, and probably because you truly are amazingly talented, brilliant, and a real dreamer with extraordinary visions.<br />
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Sometimes we get intimidated by our own capacities and you need to learn to stop backing away from yours. Go for it, you won't always succeed, but you'll definitely be a failure for never trying. Cliche, I know, but you're worth the effort. It's a sin to waste your intellect in jobs that are beneath your radar in the brains department, not to mention painfully boring and dead end. No wonder you don't get there on time, none of them are your passion. Do something you love and you'll never want to be late, do something you hate and you're not going to put any effort into it.<br />
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Regardless, be a little more responsible for your own sake. You deserve to be happy and stress-free, stop boxing yourself into these crummy situations. You're not a loser you're just afraid of how awesome you probably are.

Its funny before I got to the part of your story that you like to write and make movies I sort of had a feeling you would be good at that. With your intellectual skills, cleverness, and wit have you ever thought about comedey? Believe it or not those traits that you have can make for an amazing comedian!

The best way to get out of the rut you are in is to help someone else! Go find a volunteer organization or group and find someone else to think about!

I'll tell you what jobs would be good for you - any or all of them! You can already do 50 different jobs! However, I think I can guess what your problem is: I believe you may lack confidence and self-esteem. You come across as confident to the point of arrogance in your talents and intelligence. Yet you know they aren't working for you and you don't know why. Well I think you are fearful of mixing with the other brilliant, intelligent and talented people. Firstly, some of them may (almost certainly) be even more brilliant than you. Secondly, they will be able to evaluate your abilities. Thirdly, you will not have the comfort zone created by knowing that you are intellectually a big jump ahead of those around you. IMHO you are creating self-confidence by putting yourself in situations where you will always have an "edge". Confident people don't need an edge. Confident people believe their worth comes from simply being themselves, with their (very robust) values and beliefs and their willingness to work hard and make a difference. They don't care if they are good looking enough, young enough or clever enough - they just throw themselves into what concerns them most. Hence, on UK TV, we have 2 very amusing cleaning ladies who persuade and train dirty people to clean their houses. I know that they worked their way up in the cleaning industry until they were housekeepers at important and wealthy properties. Yet I'm sure they didn't get the best educations and they are certainly not posh. They simply weren't afraid to try anything and weren't intimidated by anyone else's edge. They obviously got the memo (though they might not have been able to read it that easily :) I think your memo would have said, "Confidence and self-worth come from knowing that your value is your enthusiasm, hard work, experience and willingness to make a contribution today. Forget about attributes such as intelligence, good looks and talent - these are merely abstract goods on a shelf until you actually apply them to something worthwhile. " Consider this: a man with an IQ of 90 who is trying his best at work will be more useful than a man with an IQ of 160 who is watching the clock and waiting for his paycheck. A second and different point which I think you should consider is this: You will not get to do anything interesting in life unless you start mixing and working with the talented people who are doing the stuff already. You need to mix with successful people to be successful yourself. Only the successful can offer you opportunities. They may not treat you as an equal at first (let's face it, you won't be their equal) but you have to grin and bear it and work to prove yourself. Thirdly, you've admitted you have self-sabotaging habits such as lateness and debt. So fix them. Being late will disqualify you from almost ANY good opportunity. It IS truly difficult to be on time, I know. The truth is, being on time takes a repulsive amount of planning and you just have to do it. Get 2 alarm clocks, set them earlier than you need. Decide to leave the house MUCH earlier than you need to - because you are trying to be EARLY, not on time. Get your clothes out the night before - socks, keys, wallet, papers all lined up. Does this sound like crap? It is crap - I hate this stuff too but if you don't do it then the next man will and he will be on time and get the job you want. I hope this helps. I relate to everything you've said and I know several people just like you. There are loads of brilliant failures out there. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE ONE!

You write well. I'd Blog if I were you, then get sponsors to pay for web presence on your site so you don't have to work a real job!<br />
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It won't hurt to pick an interest and OBSESS over it so you become sort of an expert!

ADD? I have this and I tend to have some of the same sorts of problems.

consider antidepressants? I know that drugs are not always the answer, but I have heard friends say that it helped them to see more clearly and then they didn't need them anymore. Just a thought.

actually, I have tried both acting AND film production. I love them both. The trick is making a career in either of them. I'm still in the process of realizing those dreams; but you're right: those are probably two of the few careers that I'd absolutely love every last day of work.

Try acting or film production?