I'm sorry for rambling and making this post so long. I just felt like putting myself out there.
A girlfriend of mine has suggested to me that I should take a few months, after I finish college, and go out of the country and live in hostels or something similar to find myself. I know a lot of people may think "finding yourself" is a cliche but there is honestly a lot I don't know about myself.
I just turned 29 and my life thus far is void of a lot of experiences that one would think I would have had by now. I've lived in the same house my whole life. there are only a couple times since I became an adult that I've spent more than 3 weeks away from home. The longer of those two was when I took a month long vacation to Denver (I live in a military town in Georgia) and stayed with family during that time. I've only had a relationship of any length with two females. I had a girlfriend for about 3 months when I was 16, I never got past first base, and when I was 21 I had a 3 year relationship with a younger girl, we had sex for at least two of those years. Since then I haven't been able to go on more than 3 dates with anyone or get past 1st base with anyone. So I've only had sex with one woman. I've never been kicked out of my house, my parents have always been very loving christians so the last time we didn't get along was when I was a teenager. I'm really bad at making friends or just talking to people I don't know. The last time I had more than 4 friends that I hung out with or talked to more than once a week was when I was in public school. I was home schooled from 8th grade till I got my GED. And my main problem is I have a really bad memory so I don't remember what it was like to be a kid, to be in a relationship, etc.
I am a very logical person and I feel that many emotions are irrational and therefor should be avoided if possible. I don't get emotional often. I avoid getting angry and I haven't had the opportunity to feel any sort of romantic love for years. I get depressed sometimes. At least I call it depression. I've never really talked to anyone about it to find out if I have a problem at all. I make a big effort to keep a positive mindset and I'm really good at it. Also my poor memory makes it easy for me to forget the things that make me sad or angry, so I hardly ever stay sad overnight. I really don't like acting on negative emotions like sadness or anger because I've realized that it just reinforces the emotion. I've thought about this a lot and I don't think that I'm burying something inside of me and heading towards some kind of emotional breakdown. I don't really feel that I have a lot to be depressed about. The only things in my life that make me sad are things I don't have. I don't involve myself in "drama". I don't have anyone who annoys or pushes my buttons a lot. I have a lot of free time since I'm only going to school part time and only working part time so I spend most of my week playing video games. Its not often that I am pressed for time unless I procrastinate too much.
What I want most is to get rid of my shyness. For a few years I have tried to break out of being shy. The way I think of my shyness now is that when I think about going up to someone to start a conversation, my main fear is that I will not think of what to say. I know, from Dale Carnegie, that a good way to be good conversationalist is to be interested in the person you're talking to and just ask them questions about themselves. I don't have many relationships so I don't know what is normal and what isn't when talking to strangers. So it feels weird to me to ask someone for contact information. I don't know a good way of how to show that I want to go beyond the current conversation that I'm having and become friends of some sort. And then when, for what reason, and how often should I contact this person to hang out or what not.
I'm not really asking for specific guidelines or suggestions for individual problems I've mentioned, but any advice you feel like sharing would be appreciated. I guess I would really like to know if anyone thinks that taking a vacation of some sort and completely getting out of my element is a good way to break out of my shyness. Maybe I should be asking a shrink about these things, I don't know.
Drop by the AoM group New Warriors for one venue of working on such things.
I'd bet Toastmasters would be relevant to your situation, although you're not really talking public speaking.
I don't know how often to hang with a friend either. But I do know about getting contact info. "Look, why don't I call you and talk again? What's your #?" If it feels awkward, consider that that's to be expected if your'e someone who feels awkward!
Given the extremely limited contraints of an online community, here's a possible take on your situation.
You have a problem.
You have sufficient self-awareness to have a glimmer of what your problem is.
Your problem is you are well and truly burrowed into a "Comfort Zone".
Comfort Zones are SAFE. They are extremely important for childrem, but they are a deadly trap for a lot of folks who are well into their adult years.
I've relatives in exactly the same situation. Living with the parents, something that made perfect sense a century back when the family were farmers, is confortable, easy, and SAFE.
Your simple solution is move out. And that means out of that town.
You need to physically distance yourself from your "loving Christian" parents. They are enabling your "Comfort Zone".
I agree with Native Son. I would also add that going abroad is probably not the best thing to do. I would suggest picking up a craft or trade as a hobby. Find something you enjoy doing--be it woodworking, metalworking, etc.--and dedicate yourself to mastering that craft. The journey towards becoming a master craftsman will increase your confidence by leaps and bounds. As you gain confidence in your technical ability, so will you gain confidence in your sense of self. An added benefit is that when you delve deeply into a craft, you enter into a circle of like-minded people. You will go to stores and suppliers where you will meet people doing what you do, giving you plenty to talk about. Once you meet people through "shop talk", you can build friendships that include other facets of your life.
I like that idea very much Derrick. I'm a climber... That's what does it for me. I find myself much more able to socialize when it's about something rather than simply for the sake of socializing.
First, I want to say that I'm new here too and I've been dealing/dealt with a lot of the same things in mind that you have. I can't tell you I can help you because this stuff is nearly impossible to understand without you understanding it internally. I hope I can be a source of positive motion for you because I do personally feel for your situation as you described it. If you don't like what you read I would understand that completely, but recognize that I would never criticize who you are fundamentally but just what you're doing to who you are.
I was home schooled up to 8th grade, then went to a christian school for 6 months, a public school for 6 months, then in high school I only spent freshman year at a school with over 20 kids. I ended up graduating with 4 other people.
Needless to say your feelings of social ineptitude are not strange to me. Granted, I used to be a Christian but those days are irrevocably over for various reasons I won't go into.
Anyhow, let's talk about what the problem is.. Cause I have/have had very similar problems.
I currently live abroad for the same reasons you are considering travelling abroad. It helps you get to know a side of yourself but you really have to search to actually "know" yourself. My suggestion is that if you do, recognize that travelling isn't going to change your view of you or change your shyness, YOU will change that. You have to decide who you will be and be it.
You memory is a choice as well, and believe me, if you travel outside of the country that will change. You'll have to take care of yourself in ways you'd never have imagined, about things you'd never have known you would care about. Ultimately, at least for me, it's not memory as much as not taking care of things and being a bit mentally lazy. I know it would be easy to get defensive here but I'm running off my personal experience so I'm just saying, think about it.
Your whole idea of being logical and not trusting emotions because they're irrational and illogical... Not good. Things like that, especially the idea that negative emotions ought not be shown is the way people become passive aggressive. If emotions are irrational and illogical then why do we have them in the first place. They indicate the way the situation is effecting you and in showing them you're communicating with other people the effect they have on you. You're taught not to deal with anger by lashing out, and your taught not to cry and be a wuss about things but there is a huge difference between being an angry, violent person and a healthy expression of anger same as grief or any other reason for sadness ought to be expressed. In fact, to be entirely devoid of emotion is not only impossible but it is illogical. You're a human, you have emotions and they mean something. Don't be a straw Vulcan. This is actually something that I've been figuring out slowly on my own personally. I get extremely passive aggressive and snappy, I'm still learning what the appropriate expression of emotions is and will likely be learning for a very long time. But the thing is to recognize your feelings, and recognize they are valid and meaningful to the situation and express them appropriately. This is not being illogical, wussy, or anything like that. This is reacting to situations, it's what you do anyhow. But by filtering emotions through "positivity" and "logic" you're not letting yourself have the proper reaction.
Finally, you are allowing what others will "think" about you effect how you will communicate with them. SOME PEOPLE WILL NOT LIKE YOU. You can't make everyone happy, and the more you try the less people will respect you. The start to developing a healthy social life is that you must respect yourself. You respect others by respecting yourself, and you earn their respect that way. It's crazy how it works. But the thing is, you're focused so much on "what if they don't like me" or "what if I don't have anything to say" or "what if I come off awkward" instead think "there's a person, I wonder what they have to say to make my life a bit more interesting." I know it seems crazy but the shyness (at least my version of it) comes from a very selfish, narcissistic place where I would imagine I was somehow better than everyone but none of them ever knew it or recognized it. To change that focus less on proving yourself, focus less on trying to make the other person like you. Dale Carnegie didn't say that because it will make someone like you, he said it because that's how you show interest in someone. When you show interest in someone, why would you focus on whether they like you or not? Just be interested...! If they stop interesting you, move on. In the end, be yourself. It seems hard because you're sure you don't know yourself but that's not the case. You do, you've just been sheltering yourself from rejection from other men and women. You've been scared that somehow, you will not be accepted as who you fundamentally are. Stop that and just live.
Travelling in your situation is a snake oil. It won't change you, and unless you fundamentally change the way you approach who you are it will likely make you more reserved, frustrated, and resentful of others for not trying to get to know you. However, if you're ready to go out, get a little crazy, and care more about the time you're having and less about what people are thinking about you then I'd suggest rather than taking a trip, doing an ESL job for a year in another country. I'd stay out of Korea because I think that would reinforce what you're dealing with rather than helping you uncover yourself. Personally, I think you'd be very happy in Thailand if you don't have too much for expenses. Just remember, always remember that nothing will be your remedy. You decide who you are and how that effects you.
I'm not the best at expressing myself without coming off a bit contentious so I hope I didn't put you on the defensive. And this is stuff that is very difficult to articulate in a way that is understandable.
I hope this put you on a path to becoming someone you respect, and feel good about.
How to find yourself? You mean character building.
Do something that literally scares the hell out of you and make sure it has a hard physical element to it. It has to drive you almost to the end of your tether.
Yes, it will suck. Yes, you will hate it.
Nothing good in this life comes without a lot of effort.
Do it now, or spend the rest of your life hating yourself and wishing you had while you were younger and stronger.
Your problem is that you lack confidence because you seem to think that everyone possesses something more "normal" than you. That they are better or more confident than you. That things are easier for them than for you.
They don't. They aren't. It isn't.
Disagree with this. We do possess something he doesn't. We are more "normal" than him. We have a life experience he doesn't. Mostly it involves having a reason to leave the house. Confidence comes with experience. He has no experience, in anything it looks like.
Did you get a word-a-day calender on your sabbatical?
As in Plato. Not Babylon 5.
Not only has the OP grown up in a cave. He grew up in a warm padded cave with ambient lighting. Didn't even receive the benefits of a hard, cold floor; flickering firelight; nor iron shackles to hint at reality. His existence isn't "normal". His life experiences are not just "different", they've been diluted to homeopathic ineffectiveness, full of wives-tales ingredients. He has not "lived". He has merely "existed".
You know what? F uck Plato. I'm going to compare him to Captain McCrea from Wall-E.
Life is pain. Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.
For most of creation. For the vast majority of humanity, normal is hardship. Normal lacks comfort. Normal is not suburbia and helicopter parents. Normal requires a certain amount of pain; physical, psychological, emotional.
Remember The Emperor Moth and The Struggle? It's the struggle through life which makes us who we are, capable of dealing with life. But, also making it worth living. We can't know happiness, without also knowing sadness.
The OP has successfully avoided struggle and hardship. Whether through his own efforts now, or through the facilitation of his parents in the past. He has not experienced life. It is not normal.
Normal is boring. Time to move on.