A reader emailed me:
That is the first time in years i acknowledge that i have major problems.
This will be the first time i will talk about my problems with ANYONE. Im 21, almost 22.
I scored the highest in my class on iq. I had fantastic scores on my high school diploma. Im not a ‘nerd’. Yet im friendless. I have ZERO friends. None. I have NO ONE to talk to.
My father is virtually exactly the man that the ‘manosphere’ is talking about. COMPLETELY weak and depressed. My mother is exactly the WOMAN that they are talking about. she hurt me in ways that i cannot, at this time, explain to you.
I dropped out of college a few times already because i just couldn’t make friends. So i only have my high school diploma. im still a virgin.
i have no job and no money. the ONLY thing i do is sit behind my laptop reading blogs, books and watching movies/tv shows. Reading blogs and books are the only things i have done right. I KNOW a lot more then my peers now. But it is useless because im not doing anything with it. The only physical excercise i have is almost 2 hours of biking that i do virtually everyday.
Im completely lost and confused. I dont think im depressed. Or im so depressed that i dont even notice it. I dont do anything fun in my life. Everyday im tearing myself apart with the knowledge that i already wasted so much time .
Im so scared of the time that im wasting, but i just dont know what i should do.
you are the only person that i think can help me with advice. Please, dont be afraid to be harsh with me. I really need some advice from someone i respect. I dont have someone like that in my real life, so i come to you. The things you’re doing with your life, gives me the one thing i really needed. Hope. Hope that it isn’t over yet. That i still have a chance. Thanks so much for having read this. you have a fantastic blog and i know you will make a REAL difference in so many peoples life.
Good luck with your life and dreams!
My long rambling and unorganized reply:
I’ve been in a very similar position before.
I used to live in the States and there were a few periods where I had no friends or girlfriends. It was physically painful and life was very uncomfortable. The loneliness and stress eventually caused my amygdala or hippocampus to shrink due to the excess cortisol, and so I started the cycle of stress and depression. I had to seek out anti anxiety meds from my Dr.
What I did at the time was to load up my social calendar with as many continuing education classes that I could find that interested me. Some of those classes were Buddhist or Chi-kung or poetry writing related. I hoped to meet girls in the classes, but even though that usually didn’t happen, I forced myself to follow the calendar to get out and get the stimulation.
That helped somewhat.
But for me the big breakthrough and cure for the depression and anxiety only came after moving to SEA.
I understand that you said that you are not suffering from depression and you didn’t mention anxiety. But I think the root cause of my depression and anxiety was social isolation (plus financial stress), so our situations might be similar in that way.
I lived in Bali, Thailand, the Philippines, and again in Indonesia. I found it easier to date girls here, and as the cost of living is so much lower, was able to get by even when my income was very little.
But I was still isolated from hanging with male friends, for the most part, in SEA. That really only changed for me after getting guys to work together on business projects.
I’m not in the habit of giving advice, and have doubts about giving advice. But I can share my own experiences and mental map, and you can see if it relates to you and see if some of my solutions might work for you.
I like to try to focus my free time efforts onto things that I enjoy that could have the possibility to improve my life. For a few years I spent a lot of free time reading and posting on manosphere type blogs, and I think that can be quite helpful. There is a lot to learn that way, and for me it was substitute for face to face social interaction, intellectual stimulation, and creative output, and I needed that and it helped. But after a point it’s a bit of a time suck that gives diminishing returns.
So I tried to pick hobbies more carefully such that they had the possibility to improve my current and future situation. I took up a musical instrument, and that has been fulfilling. The hope is that the skill will be as impressive as I hear that musical ability often is, and so be seductive. My father is retired and plays music with other people all over the world wherever he travels in spontaneous get togethers or organized group meets. I saw him and his friends get together to jam through much of my boyhood. So I can see music has potential to gather male friends and to seduce women. Plus for me it’s something that I enjoy in solitude. I’m a slow learner, but that doesn’t bother me because I figure any progress is progress. As long as I enjoy it, I’ll keep doing it, and in five, ten, or twenty years, I’ll be pretty good at it.
For the last two months I’ve been working on Ellie Gouldings “Love Me Like You Do“, and I’ve pretty well got it down now. It’s a complicated piece that demands a lot from the left hand. For a few years before I mostly just improvised, and didn’t even try to learn any set musical pieces. I figured that the most important thing was to enjoy myself, and at first I didn’t enjoy trying to learn set musical pieces. After my fingers got accustomed to what they taught themselves through improv, they now do enjoy learning set pieces. So for me the most important thing was that it was fun, that way I never had to force myself to practice; I always enjoyed playing as something I wanted to do.
I’ve heard that fitness reduces stress, boosts the immune system, and of course a good physique increases sexual status. So I’ve made it a habit to regularly go to the gym. Like with most habits, once you set them up they are not difficult to maintain. It’s just something that you do. More so after many years.
Your regular cycling seems great. You might consider weight lifting also, for the different benefits, especially physique.
If you are going to spend a lot of time in front of the laptop, you may as well shift your focus towards something that can earn a scaleable income. I can’t give any suggestions about what online businesses could work. I have many business ideas, but I plan to profit off of those myself. If you wanted to work on those it would have to be in the context of being an intern out here.
I’ve always found that meditation and chi-kung are life and mood improving, however for me they can’t overcome the requirement for social interaction. Meditation and social interaction can be combined because people gather to take classes and meditate together, and then later socialize together. The social part didn’t always work that well for me, but I did make some friends and girlfriends that way.
When I was about your age others considered me a bit shy and awkward, and on my part I felt I’d like to improve my ability to chat with people, and that played a part in my decision to take up sales. I bought jewelry and clothing and sold it first at the flea market and local university in the student center, and then later in music shows and special events and on long road trips to universities in other states. Through this every day I was chatting up girls. Sometimes I would travel with a girlfriend, or on Dead tour I’d have a group of people helping, but for the most part the road trips were done solo, so after a while I again felt a bit isolated when on the road. I did make some vendor friends and friends in other states.
Travelling sales was lucrative at first, but eventually most vendors were struggling. I can’t recommend it as an option for you, but brought it up as a generally orienting principal of trying to have ones profession work to augment ones own personal deficits. Many people mentioned to me that I was the most unlikely person to be in sales as my personality seemed so aloof and quiet and even shy. Yes, but that’s WHY I was in sales. And my own style actually worked just fine – I was an above average salesperson. I found my own authentic way to engage with people. I had to or I would have burned out. If you have to force yourself to do something it isn’t sustainable. I had to find my own way that worked for me.
Even so eventually it was time to move on into a new entreprenurial profession. I was in travelling sales for about 7 years. My vendor peers congratulated me on being able to “get out”, as the economy was no longer supporting most of us in the style we were accustomed to, yet people were trapped by their investment in inventory and their own momentum.
You are asking for advice and I’m rambling on about my past. Not sure if that comes close to counting as advice. I’m just thinking that you are going to have to come up with your own solutions, as only you know your problems and interests and opportunities intimately. I’m just giving examples of how my challenges led to my own choices, in the hopes that you can look to your own challenges and find your own solutions.
I’d like to think that my offer of internship could be an instant one size fits all fix for social and financial fulfillment. It might be for some. That could be something for you to consider.
Otherwise I’d consider looking into lifting, taking up an instrument, finding some job that is social, finding some continuing ed or other group gatherings that interest you that can put you next to people who share your interests, starting your own business, limiting the time you spend on persuits that don’t improve your future, and taking up meditation and chi-kung.
You asked me to not hold back on being harsh. I expect that your situation is very common. Westerners are lucky to have all the blessings that come from valuing individuality, but there are downsides that are built into that system. Many of us are terribly isolated. The harshest thing I have to say at the moment is that you should be more cautious with your punctuation. i find that people are, like, too casual with their speech and writing and stuff. If you are going to do something – anything at all – you may as well do it well. It is not only how you present yourself to the world, but is an exercise in mindfulness and awareness and craft, which improves both mood and social standing.