Hey Doc, long time reader, first time poster.
I’m 20 years old and my MAJOR problem is that I am a badly socialized spiteful thrall of technology (or asshole)
Needless to say I am disappointed by this to say the least. Shit I’m average and VERY replaceable as far as humans go. When I say very replaceable I mean I am nothing more than student droid 553471. No defining features and modesty works against me as I see myself as a machine, a tool to produce results but I HATE the entire concept of love. I wish that I could become a techpriest doc, i really do.
So anyway, the women in my town do not interest me.
Bars are OK, not a fan of the Saturday night crowd who get blitzed and start fights. Nightclubs, fuck that I went to quite a few and I dislike them immensely. I am quite out of shape and am working out at home until I can be in shape enough to do team sports (if I am to do team sports I should be in shape enough to make a fucking difference, not puking after running 5 feet. Hang out at my local game store a lot, that’s all cool and i enjoy it, not so great for women but i knew the score there. Conventions at my town fucking suck and are tiny. University, I have SUCH a hatred for communism that will be an instant deal-breaker, also computer science student so I’m at a disadvantage there.
I kind of have NO idea of what to do in the real world, if that makes sense, my world is a virtual one and often I wish I could be converted into a tech-priest so I will never have to deal with flesh matters.
Seems that my decisions are powered by hate mostly, I hate communists, I hate hippies, I hate art students, I hate vegans, I support factory farming and would happily demolish a thousand forests to replace them with factories.
I also have such a low opinion of people I am constantly expecting them to stab me in the back or ruin my chances at a career just because they can. Sometimes my anger fades and I receive clarity of my thrall nature.
I genuinely expect women to pass me by and I fully expect them to only humor me to punish me later. Fuck doc, the Tropico 1 soundtrack is the only thing keeping me from thrashing around at my computer desk here.
This is not a question of ‘why don’t girls like me’, its because i’m an simmering angry negative asshole who hasn’t been socialized properly.
I know that this path will not lead to a good place. I have a limited amount of friends, no ones that can introduce me to girls as the friends I’m most active with are the weird-but-fun guys at the game store and my friends that could have led me to women I have fallen away from (moved away and laziness led me to stop talking to them).
I’m fucking 20 now doc, and that is young and I don’t know my ass from a hole in the ground. I have achieved nothing and if my hate continues I will end up far older with way more problems. Time waits for no one and even Time Lords rot.
Therapy is a darned option, I am putting this here so you will not need to.
You may have put it your letter BE, but I’m going to say it anyway: more than anything else, you need to be talking to a therapist. A therapist is going to be able to provide you with more, long term support and help you develop the skills you need to overcome your anger, than a loudmouth with a blog. The issues you have are deep and entrenched and some of them may be chemical in nature, which will require medication to alleviate. So before anything else, you need to get your ass into therapy. And I mean booking sessions with a qualified professional, not just guided exercises like MoodGym. You need to be working with someone who’ll keep you accountable and call you on your shit.
But whether you do talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, medication or any combination of the above… the issue isn’t that you hate other people because frankly… I don’t think you do. I think you hate yourself and that hate is directed outwards so that you push people away from you. It’s a supremely fucked up way of both protecting yourself and punishing yourself. On the one hand, by being this angry ball of hate, you keep people at a distance so they can never get close enough to hurt you. But at the same time… you’re also deliberately pushing away people who might want to help you. People who might be your friends. But you don’t believe that you deserve friends. You’re not worthy of them or of help. And so… you push them away. You put on this snarling dog persona and snap at people and say provocative things because you believe you’re a pile of shit and don’t deserve anything in your life. You know you’re miserable and that’s good because fuck you that’s why.
Part of it is that you know you’re smart. And as much as I hate to quote TV shows at people looking for advice (actually that’s a lie, I do it all the fucking time), I’m gonna quote some Rick and Morty at you. Because you know you’re intelligent. But you also use that intelligence as your excuse to justify sickness. And in this case, that sickness is the self-hate that you’re letting fester at your core. It’s really easy to come up with reasons for it. You’re smart, you should already be doing better, you should be further along, you shouldn’t be a fat lonely CS student and look at all these other fucking people thinking they’re so happy when they’ve got things you’d kill for and FUCK THEM because they’re happy and you’re not.
And here’s the really fucked up part: you’re also going to fight any changes to get better. Not just because being misery is a way of punishing yourself for your perceived and imaginary sins, but because, quite frankly, not feeling this way is fucking terrifying. It may be miserable. You may be lonely and hate yourself and wish the world would just compress into a singularity… but it’s what you know. Just like you’re terrified of the real world. The virtual world may be leaving you feeling empty and hollow – and I suspect it’s reinforcing some of your issues – but you know it. The real world, as much as you know you can’t avoid it, is scary because it has rules that you haven’t mastered, corners you haven’t explored. Here there don’t just be dragons, there be people, people you can’t just ignore, killfile, block, mute or otherwise shape into what you want.
But you know this has to change. You wouldn’t have written to me if you didn’t want to change. And to a certain extent, I think you’re asking for permission to actually start fixing things.
First: I want you to start focusing on getting your asshole brain under control. You know the one I mean: it’s the one that’s dripping poison in your ear and telling you that you’re worthless, that people are just waiting for opportunities to hurt you and you’ll never amount to anything. You’re going to do this by simply being a bit more mindful. I know it’s trendy to recommend things like mindfulness meditation for everything and it has the patchouli stink of the hippies and vegans you hate… it’s perfect for what you want. All you want to do is simply get a handle on your brain and feel things clearly and deliberately, instead of reflexively and impulsively.
You’re just going to sit in a chair, with your back straight, your feet flat on the ground and your hands in your lap, close your eyes and breathe. All you’re going to do is pay attention to your breathing. Just focus on the sensations of your breath going in, your lungs expanding, then contracting and exhaling. This will be insanely difficult. Your brain will go off on a thousand tangents, with at least half of them saying “this is stupid, this is bullshit, what am I doing?” That’s fine. That happens to everyone. When – not if, when – it happens, note those thoughts. Literally “Ok, here’s a thought.” And once you’ve noted that you’re having thoughts… go back to focusing on your breathing. That’s all you do. Sit, close your eyes, focus and refocus on your breathing. Do this for ten minutes every day. It’ll help calm the storms in your head.
(If you’re interested in more about this, you may want to check out 10% Happier by Dan Harris.)
Second: You’re going to stop beating yourself up about where you “should” be in life or what you “ought to be” doing or any of the rest of that. You are going to excise “should” from your vocabulary. There is no “should”, there is just “is”. “Should” is a value judgement based on bullshit. “Should” is part of stealing your contentment from you. “Should” is the cudgel that you’re using to pound yourself in the nuts. You are where you are right now. There are places where you would like to be. But there is no place you should be. Your journey is uniquely your own and trying to force it to a specific timeline or itinerary is going to keep you miserable.
Third: You’re going to embrace imperfection. Right now, you’re using the idea of not being able to do something properly as the reason to not do it.
Case in point: team sports. You want to do team sports? Fine, go do team sports. Stop waiting, stop delaying and stop isolating yourself in the name of eventually joining others. You’re using the fact that you’re out of shape as an excuse to not do what you want to do, and I am here from the future to tell you that you will never reach a point where you think you’re “ready,” because being out of shape is an excuse. As soon as you’re in shape, you’ll say you can’t join because you’ve never played before so you need to learn how to play before you can joint a team. Once you learn how to play, you’ll say that you don’t know how to play with a group so now you can’t.
So fuck it. Start playing now. Except you’re going to shift your intentions. You’re not worried about “contributing” – another excuse you’re using to not do something, another flogger you use to flagellate yourself – you’re participating. Find the leagues that aren’t there for the competition but for the fun of it. It may be an amateur softball league. It may be bowling. It could be kickball. You want to find the people who are just there to have a good time, hang out with their teammates and play some games. Not only will this take the “should” out – again – but it’ll mean that you’ll get in shape faster and more efficiently. It’s far easier to stick to exercise that you actively enjoy instead of things that you have to force yourself into.
Yeah, you won’t be very good. Fuck it. The fact that you’re doing it at all is a victory. It’s proof that you can do more than your shitty, asshole brain tells you that you can. You don’t need to excel. You just need those tiny victories. Let yourself suck at it… just so long as you’re having fun and playing with people who are there to have fun. You can join the more serious teams later on when you’ve leveled up.
Fourth: You’re going to get off the computers. Remember what I said about your virtual world making things worse? This is part of it. I can hear the edgelord in your letter, and it’s pretty clear to me that you’re spending your time in corners of the Internet where people gather mostly to stew in their anger and hate. I don’t care if it’s Reddit, Voat, 4chan, Gab, Slack or just the people you follow on Twitter. The more you expose yourself to other negative, angry people, the more your own anger and self-loathing gets reinforced. The more you listen to people who tell you that you’re a worthless pile of shit, the more you believe you’re a worthless pile of shit. The more people tell you that you shouldn’t be happy… well, even if you don’t believe them, that shit sinks in and steals your joy. Cut it from your life as much as possible.
Yeah, yeah, safe spaces, snowflakes, etc. I’ve heard all of it before and frankly, those are the words thrown around by people who are literally afraid of silence. They dress their fear up as bravery and iconoclasm – I’m so tough I tell it like it is, I’m not afraid of harsh truths – because if they stop yelling for five seconds, they’ll be confronted by their own thoughts. Rolling around in anger and misery doesn’t mean that you’re smart, it means you’re in pain. Surrounding yourself with vitriol doesn’t mean you’re tough. It just means you’re hiding from yourself. You become like a shark, constantly moving and thrashing because stopping means ego-death. It means listening to all the things you’ve been trying to block out.
But here’s the thing about those safe spaces: they’re an oasis of calm. They’re a balm to your anxiety, a cool hand to a fevered forehead. They’re moments when you don’t have to have your shields up, when you’re not getting blasted by a cacophony of bullshit. And whether it’s just for a few minutes, an hour or longer… you’re calm. You’re at peace. You’re in a place where you can just be, recharge your batteries and let go of every tense muscle and relax.
So you need to dial the fuck back on where you’re spending time in your virtual world, with all of your fellow travellers who want you to be just as miserable and angry as they are. I suspect that you’ll find that some of your anger and rage subsides.
Fifth: You’re going to find something meaningful and pursue it. It doesn’t need to be practical. It just has to be something that speaks to your very soul. It could be anything – you might volunteer to walk the dogs at a pet shelter, you might plant a garden, you might take up painting or learning an instrument even if you never master it. It doesn’t matter what it is – it just has to be something you do in physical space, something that doesn’t harm anyone (including you) and that brings fulfillment to your soul. One of your issues right now is that you don’t have anything that you want or that you live for. Well now’s your chance. You’re going to start doing something – anything – that has meaning for you. What meaning? That’s up to you to decide.
Don’t know what it is? That’s fine. That means it’s time to explore and figure it out. You’ve got all the time in the world.
Sixth: This may be one of the hardest parts, but it’s also the most important. You’re going to forgive yourself.
You need to forgive yourself for all those sins that you feel are weighing you down. You need to forgive yourself for the anger that’s taken root in you and for the ways you’re disappointed in yourself. You need to forgive yourself for all the things that you feel like you should have done by now but haven’t and also for using those achievements as a yardstick to measure your “failure”. You need to forgive yourself for the pain you’ve caused yourself. You need to forgive yourself for “being average” and for the time that you feel like you’ve wasted getting here. And when you and your therapist reach your breakthroughs and you start clawing your way out of that hole – and you will get there – then you need to forgive yourself for the time that it took to finally take the steps that got you there.
I’m not going to lie to you, BE. You’ve got a lot to work through and you’re in a position that’s really fucking hard to pull yourself out from.
But I’m here to tell you: it can be done. You can do it. You have the strength. You have the courage and you have the ability. You just need to take that first step.
It’s going to be a long and hard road. It is going to suck like few things have sucked before. But the journey will be worth it and the destination even moreso.
All will be well.