What do I do?

I’m not sure what kind of advice is given on this website, most of what I’ve seen seems to be dating advice. I don’t really need help in that area but more for improving myself.
I recently started dating someone I’ve liked for nearly 6 years now. When I met him I was two stone heavier than I am now, and due to being bullied at the time I was alot quieter.
I lost contact with him for about 3 years and in that time moved schools and gained a few close friends. But I knew these people from a past school as I move alot.
I find it hard to talk to strangers and feel uncomfortable around everyone. I have little self confidence and I’m unable to interact with my current boyfriend’s friends.
My last physical relationship was 2 years ago, the boy cheated on me for the whole 8 months and was sleeping with a person I considered a close friend at the time. After breaking up with him I settled for talking to people online. This is something I already did but after the break up it escalated to the point where I didn’t want to go out. I would sit on the computer and talk to people all over the world.
I found myself doing things I later regretted online and of course stayed in even more. I cried myself to sleep most nights due to loneliness and couldn’t find help.
My family didn’t understand and just thought I was a moody teenager (They still think that). My dad and step mother seem to pick out flaws in me whenever they see me. The last time I saw my dad we went out for a meal, he asked everyone in the room to raise their hand if they disagreed with him on his opinion of my manners. In the past he’s picked on my sister, my mum and my breath, though I regularly brush my teeth.
I’ve also found that lately I find it difficult to talk to my friends, they regularly make fun of me for who I’m dating rather than understand that it’s upsetting me, they seem to do it more and more. It’s making me fall out with some of them and feel more uncomfortable in the group. I’ve found I’m even quieter than before and have taken to walking at the back of the group rather than in the middle.
My current boyfriend was uneasy with me talking to strangers online, so I’ve lost contact with most of them. I guess it’s helping me, but if I ever break up with him, what do I do?
I need to have a higher level of self esteem. How do I go about this? How do I become more confident in speaking to people?

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5 thoughts on “What do I do?

  1. Dennis Hong says:

    [Wow, I’m sorry to hear that your parents have been so harsh with you. I can see how that must just destroy your self-esteem.

    To be honest, I don’t think there are any easy solutions for you. You can’t just build up self-esteem overnight. The only way to do it is to truly believe that you’re a worthwhile person, and that’s going to take time… uh, to believe you’re a worthwhile person, that is. Not to *be* a worthwhile person. That I know you are. 🙂

    Where I think you could start is to with your last question: how to become more confident speaking to people. For that, there are actually a lot of books out there that can help. My quickest suggestion to you? Make eye contact and smile. Those will probably be difficult to do at first, because you’re going to be nervous. But, if you really practice these two things, I think you’ll find that you’ll gradually get more and more comfortable interacting with others.

    Another thing you can do is to find things in common with others. Does someone like, say, dogs better than cats? Do *you* like dogs better than cats? Boom, there you go. That’s something you have in common. Go with it. I think it’s pretty clear that you’re an introvert, so making small talk may seem ridiculous and inane to you at first. But, trust me, it’s vital! You have to make small talk before you can progress to deeper conversations. Otherwise, you’ll come off as creepy.

    I’m a total introvert, as well, but years ago, I learned that if you really want to get far in our society, you simply have to exercise some basic social skills. So, trust me when I say that it’s not that hard to learn to “fake it,” so to speak. It just takes practice. Find things you have in common with others, and use them as a take-off point to initiate conversations.

    Another thing you can do is to really start observing those around you and how they converse. Pick someone around you whom you admire, and start noticing how they interact with others. I think that may help you develop your conversational skills, too.

    Anyway, I think that if you really focus on learning how to speak more confidently to people first, your self-esteem will start ballooning in no time.

    As for your boyfriend, you haven’t really talked much about him, but I do want to say one thing: PLEASE make sure you don’t start basing your entire identity around him. It sounds like he’s becoming your only source of companionship at this point, and I think that’s very dangerous. Is there any way you can explain to him that, because you’re not great talking to people in person, it’s important for you to cultivate online friendships? I mean, seriously, there’s nothing wrong with that… well, as long as you’re not doing anything stupid. (I’m not sure what exactly you meant by doing things you later regretted.)

    Hope this helps.

  2. avd11 says:

    [So Im going to take from your post that you are sub-20, given the moody teenager bit. While it can be great to be in your teens , it can also suck… a lot. I can bet that most of you friends/classmates are also questioning themselves/have doubts about their self esteems. Unfortunately it is a part of growing up as one becomes more comfortable in their skin. I think a big part of getting through that is finding things that you enjoy or are good at, they dont have to be mutually exclusive either. This could also afford you the opportunity to meet new people with similar interests.

    I think it is also a good time to look at your friends. What are their criticisms of your boyfriend? Are they rooted in how he treats you? Or do they pick at nonsensical things? The could be genuinely concerned for you or they can be using a poor defense mechanism to soothe their own insecurities. This will involve some insight and inspection on your part.

    I agree with Dennis though that one has to be careful to not use your boyfriend as your identity. While relationships can be a quite healthy thing to pursue, now is also prime time to learn about yourself and explore. If wanting more confidence in talking to others, it may involve looking inward, as well, as practice and patience.

    I know a lot of introverted persons who find it easier to turn to the internet, because they find it an easier venue to express themselves. This can be a great place to meet people with similar interests/find advice,etc. However safety is an issue, plus the internet isnt always as anonymous as we think it may be. It seems like you already had an issue previously.

    Best of Luck!

  3. faraday says:

    [The “fake it until you make it comments” are probably the truest. I used to be really awkward in social situations…until I decided not to be. We are our own worst critics. People do not judge us nearly as harshly as we think they do. So go out and start smiling and saying “hi” at people. Btw, people love genuine compliments. Ask people where they got their shoes, their bag…just make sure you like what you’re asking about.

    “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.” So just be. Be the person you want to be. Envision it. Believe it. Until it’s real. You create your own destiny. Own it.

    Good luck 🙂

  4. AKchic says:

    [As someone who was diagnosed bi-polar at a young age, who has very, very bad fits of depression, as well as having social anxiety disorder, let me ask you something:

    Do you think that some of the comments you hear just might be taken out of context? That because you’re already on the defensive, depressed (aka: moody), and closed off and not exactly well-equipped socially – that what may be light-hearted teasing on the part of friends, could be an overreaction on your part?

    Your father – yeah, he’s a dolt. A bully. He feels poorly about himself so he needs to bring everyone down with him. The saying “misery loves company” is very, very true.

    As for your friends – I don’t know. It could be that you’ve taken their words too deeply and it wasn’t meant that way. It could be that you really do need better friends. The thing is, we go for things that we think we deserve in life.

    I think that you have a low sense of self-esteem. Whether it’s warranted or not isn’t the issue (I truly doubt it). The issue is getting you some help in order for you to have a better quality of life. I don’t know what area you live in, or what your age is, but you sound young. If you are in school, it’s time to step up and ask for help from a teacher, guidance counselor, etc.
    It is very easy to hide in the online realm to avoid interacting with people in the “real world”. Honey, taking the easy way out isn’t the answer. Eventually, you will have to learn to interact with people on a personal level, and the sooner you do, the better. It helps to get comfortable with people.

    Everyone has a bad boyfriend. I’ve had two bad husbands. Didn’t stop me from roping a 3rd one. And I’m not even 30 yet.
    In rehab, we tell people to “fake it until you make it”. Meaning, pretend to be the person you want to be, until you ARE the person you want to be. Yes, it is hard sometimes. I can tell you from experience, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, but I promise you, it is worth it.
    If you want to talk, let me know. I do feel for you. You may be doing the work yourself, but it’s always nice (and even good) to have people in your corner cheering you on.

  5. Rosa says:

    [I too was a very shy teenager!! I literally couldn’t talk to adults, or make eye contact, even with people my own age or younger. I’ve found that the only way to improve your confidence is to dive right out of your comfort zone. I got a job that involved communicating with people from all walks of life, making them feel at ease, and holding a conversation. It was agonising for the first few months, but now I am confident around people and can chat to anyone.

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