26 Year Old With Irrationally Low Self Esteem

Hi all,

The title basically says it all in terms of what I'm writing about. The details are a bit more long winded.

I'm 26, and live in a major metro area of the US.
I grew up in this area, one of four kids. Growing up, I had to grow accustomed to a strict upbringing, one that was very much focused on things like grades in school and a rigid schedule. This was exasperated by the fact that my strict parent, to the point of often being downright mean and verbally abusive, was often home. It also didn't help that I grew up around no one my own age, went to a private elementary school (making it hard to meet friends in my area), wasn't allowed off the cul de sac I lived on until 14.

I was a very smart kid, but also very prone to depression. My schoolwork was in a constant flux depending on when I was happy or when I was sad. My dream was to enroll at a school like MIT/Cal Tech/Carnegie Mellon/etc, but I did not have the grades to match my SAT scores, and enrolled at a good-not-great college.

While not always happy in college, I was at least more hopeful of things improving. I went out more, I participated in sports (something I always did growing up, I love sports), and felt like I was working towards something. Depression reared it's ugly head a few times, though, and while I graduated in 4 years with a math degree, my GPA was only around a B.

I graduated, but of course, I messed up in college (never held an internship, my job searches were too narrow as a college kid since I had just one career goal). Inevitably moved home with my mom, as my parents divorced while I was a junior, and took a job at the supermarket I used to work at. After three months, I found a job as an accounts receivable clerk, which I took without hesitation because my self-confidence was crushed.

This job made it worse, as despite offering 50+ hours a week of time, they never had a thing good to say about me, and fired me in short order. In retrospect, this was a blessing, but at the time, it was pretty embarrassing.

I ended up working as a delivery driver, still living with my mom, until I finally found another job as a junior cost analyst. This job started out better, but the same story developed; bad relations with superiors, and a manager that did not care about my development. After a little under a year, I was fired again, this time living on my own.

Fortunately, I'm resourceful enough to find a way to pay bills, and did tutoring until I found stable employment again. I was only out for a month, before I found a job as a data analyst in my current company. This time, I stuck, and have been there and getting raises for 2+ years. I'm even seen as a valuable resource to other members of the company, and have been the point man for analysis and algorithms on major revenue projects.

Story over, right? Wrong. In fact, it only disguises the real issue I've had since graduating college, which is that I'm painfully lonely. I'm 26 now, I'm in decent shape, participate in martial arts classes, and not even a bad looking guy. Other people even find me funny when they get to know me. But every date I have seems to end in the awkward hug, ignored text combo, and for the life of me, I don't know what I'm doing wrong. What is more frustrating is that while I do have Asperger's syndrome, I function fairly well socially, and can hang out with people easily (male and female). And people like me!

This just contributes to my feeling of being a loser, though. I have never been on a "real" vacation, I haven't so much as kissed a girl in 7 years, I live in suburbia, I spend 50-60 hours a week in the office, located in some boony town, with no hope of ever being promoted in my current role, other than a meaningless job title change. My twin, on the other hand, lives downtown, has had a longtime S.O, is in school for a master's degree, and has the lifestyle I envy. My mom nudges me towards buying a house/condo, but I don't have enough money for a comfortable down payment yet. Even if I did, buying property in suburbia feels like the death knell of my youth.

I often wish I could have a do-over. Maybe drop out of high school rather than suck up years of false hope for a better life. I have everything my demanding parent could have wanted, which is a skilled job, a decent car, and an independent life. And it sucks. It's a first world problem, for sure, but none of this is an end to itself. It's simply a means to an end. I feel isolated in my home state, surrounded by all of life's pressures and none of life's benefits. I feel like I'm destined to have nothing in my life except my career, and it sucks.

Have I tried online dating? Yes, I have. Do I do things outside of work? Yes, I do. Frankly, it all sucks. All this work is dedicated to nothing but not being a loser anymore, and I'm failing at it. I'm starting to believe I need to accept the fact that I'm nothing but a robotic grunt worker, just as everyone wanted me to be, and should just base my life off of this. I'd trade it all to be an average guy, though, at least then I might have all the things they have that I want.

Thanks for reading, all. I feel like I've crazy expectations on myself at 26, but for every old high school friend I see getting married on Facebook, the crappier I feel about myself.
jr317 jr317
1 Response May 12, 2012

Hey jr317,

I'm not going to beat around the bush here, i'm going to be straight forward with you because you need to hear truth, i'm not going to be that friend of yours who lies to you and tells you what your ears want to hear.

Nothing on this Earth is going to give you joy, yes it may give you temporary happiness but then you get bored of whatever it is and then you'll seek something else to fill that void in your heart only to find that you still feel empty, believe me i've been on that never ending cycle, I myself am a 26 year old male btw.

For instance, you have something I need right at this moment and thats a career. Yet even though we are on the opposite ends of the spectrum (you have a career and I don't) we are both unhappy with the state of our lives right now. Do you get where I'm going with this? If not, the point i'm trying to get across is that you're not the only unhappy person in this world, everyone, yes including celebrities and people at the top who "have it made" are still unhappy or empty.

Happiness comes and goes in life, i'm sure you've had days where you've had the best day ever and then someone says something or something bad happens which bursts your bubble and you end up unhappy.

I was in a bad relationship two years ago, when me and this girl broke up I made a pact with myself to seek truth and find the right path to live my life as I knew in my heart and mind that if I didn't walk the right path I would make the same mistakes again in life and I didn't want to go through that heartache again. Also prior to breaking up with my ex I was having the worst mental breakdowns ever, they were so disabling, it was a mess.

I worked at a pizza place at the time and I worked with a supervisor who had a lot of integrity, compared to the other workers there you could tell this supervisor had his life together so I decided to talk to him more and figure out what he was doing differently that gave him that aura of integrity among other positive attributes.

The more I talked to this supervisor I realized he was a Christian and then red flags went up, because I had such a negative mental stereotype of a Christian person. I would argue with him and talk to him about other religions and tell him that Christianity cannot be the only way to live correctly, what about Buddhism? I would ask him. But he would persistently tell me that he believes "Christianity is the end all be all of religion." Angry and flustered I went home and researched Christianity only to find that he was totally correct, all other religions were mans efforts to climb up to God whereas in Christianity God reaches down to man through His Only begotten Son Jesus Christ who is the mediator between God and man since Christ is both God and man.

I don't know where you are spiritually but I can tell you from experience that without God in your life and in your heart you are going to keep running around this world seeking something or someone to fill that void in your heart when truly only God can fill that void.

So in conclusion my advice to you would be to read the New Testament, start with the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, don't just skim through it for namesake, read it for comprehension, if you don't understand it seek the answer, you have the internet. Without a shadow of a doubt I truly believe that after you read and understand the gospels in the New Testament your life will change for the better, it did for me. Sure things are not perfect for me but life on this Earth is never going to be perfect for anyone till the day we die, thats what heaven is for.

I'm going to pray for you now, the rest is in your hands buddy, good luck and God bless you!