My problem is that I suffer from loneliness. This loneliness is not due to not having people around me but is because of the fact that I don’t have anyone with whom I can share my thoughts, ideas, emotions, etc. I fear that if I share all this with someone, they will just mock me. This fear has led me to keep everything within me. And this is something that I have been suffering from since childhood.
But on the other hand, I have noticed that I speak quite a lot when I find the right person. This shows me that though I do not have many friends, I still am not an introvert. But the problem is that I am a sensitive person who tries to do good with everyone. But if someone hurts me then I feel very bad and am unable to understand why they ever did that to me.
The disturbing thing is that because of being lonely, I have started talking to myself. This sometimes leads to me being forgetful and losing touch with reality.
My father is a person who likes to stay aloof. He lives in a separate room in our house and does not take much interest in our lives – his wife and children. He is a religious person who wants to see me as a good person but is not at all concerned about my worldly education or future. I am scared of him as he scolds me over trivial things and whenever I have to speak to him I think multiple times before talking to him.
I am the youngest of my siblings and the only brother. Seeing the indifference of our father towards us, my sisters convinced my mother to send me to good educational institutions so I could get a decent education. And they work on my character building so I can turn out to be a good human being. But other than that they criticise me in a way that makes me feel as if I don’t have any brains and that I am nothing. This has led me to lose confidence in myself and now I reach out to them for help whenever a crucial decision needs to be made.
On the educational side, I am doing BSc and am quite good at CS programming. I enjoy my studies and am happy with them. But the rest of the things going on in my life, mentioned above, cause me a lot of stress and frustration.
What should I do? Please advise!
Lonely & Stressful Guy
Dear Lonely & Stressful Guy,
Being an introvert is not a vice or anything to be ashamed of. Not everyone in the world can be and should be an extrovert. Introverts are as much needed and wanted as extroverts in this world. Therefore, don’t be too hard on yourself if you lean towards being an introvert.
Low self-esteem is the reason why you fear people will mock you if you open up to them. This is something that is just in your imagination. You will have to try to change your opinion about yourself. There are many self-help articles about this online and I have written extensively about it in my previous columns. From what I have read of your letter, you are a person of many qualities – you have a good heart, you are patient with your family members, you are good at your studies and you are communicative when in the company of the right people. This shows that there is nothing wrong with you and you are quite a nice person.
Another reason for you feeling lonely is because at home you get the chance to only talk to your mother and sisters and not someone of your own gender as your father stays aloof and non-communicative. You might be very close with your Mum and sisters but of course you can’t share everything with them. To counter this problem, I will suggest that you try to hang out a bit more with your friends and try not to be too sensitive while hanging out with them. That should allow you to share your thoughts and ideas with someone other than your family members.
You could also try to volunteer your time at old peoples home or hospitals. This would allow you to interact with people who don’t know you and thus are not judgmental. This would boost your confidence, develop your speaking skills and allow you to share your feelings with others. Sometimes it’s strangers with whom we end up opening more. Hopefully this will also help you in not being forgetful and talking to yourself.
As for someone hurting you without any reason, you will come across many such sick people in life. People like these have lives which are so pathetic that the only pleasure they derive from their miserable existences is by being mean to others. Ignore such people and try not to get upset by what they say or do – unless it’s something that puts you in any kind of danger. Though it may not appear so on the surface but trust me on this, the lives they are living are not happy ones.
Your sisters love you and want the best for you – that is for sure. The reason they might be criticising you and not taking you seriously enough is because of the fact that you are younger than them. This is something quite common, but not right, in the Pakistani culture that younger siblings are often thought of not having as much sense or reasoning powers as elder siblings. Though it is wrong but many parents in our society still actively or passively enforce such thinking amongst their children. Although it’s not your fault but sadly the onus falls on you to change the thinking of your elder sisters.
First of all, you will need to sit down with them and in a very mature way – without any accusations, shouting, tears and moodiness – share with them the fact that the way they treat you makes you feel as if you are immature, silly and do not have any sense.
A word of caution here! It’s highly unlikely that your sisters will hear you say this without reacting to defend themselves and their actions when it comes to how they treat you. They might be offended and get defensive and thus react in a negative way. You will have to be extremely patient and allow them to vent their feelings without getting upset yourself. Once they have expressed their anguish enough, you will have to steer the conversation back to the point where you started and continue politely by telling them, with the help of examples, how their behaviour towards you is negatively impacting your self-confidence, self-esteem and decision-making abilities.
Although this discussion will come as a shock to them but hopefully – because they love you and want the best for you – they will understand that they need to alter their opinion of you and thus treat you differently.
It’s sad that your father stays aloof and separate, doesn’t take much interest in your education and future, and in the lives of the rest of the family. Although it might be worth a shot, but I believe talking to him, like talking to your sisters about how you feel the way he treats you and the rest of his family, is not going to yield any results. He is old and quite set in his ways. He most probably won’t be open to change. I would ask you to accept him the way he is and be grateful for the fact that he wants to see you as a good human being. Not many parents these days – in their quest to only teach their children how to make money either by hook or crook – take the trouble to do that. Thus your father wanting this for you means he loves you and wants you to be the best person that you possibly can be. Try to be happy with that.
You are lucky that not only are you good at your chosen studies – that will decide your future career – but also enjoy studying them. Not everyone is as lucky as you in this regard. Many students take up subjects that they hate studying but have chosen them because of the attractive career choices they offer. Every time they sit down to study, they literally have to battle with themselves. You on the other hand, are studying something that makes you happy.
All the best!
Asad is a counsellor, life coach, inspirational speaker and a personal-development expert. He advises on social, personal and emotional issues. You can send him your questions for this weekly column at [email protected] with “Ask Asad” mentioned in the subject line and provide as many details as possible.
Note: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Express Tribune.