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Dear Mary: I’m only 27 and I think I’m stupid, boring and I have no lust for life

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'I seem to have missed the memo on having a desire. How and when will I start to feel full?'

'I seem to have missed the memo on having a desire. How and when will I start to feel full?'

'I seem to have missed the memo on having a desire. How and when will I start to feel full?'

I’m 27, female, and lost. I have a good job, I manage people, but I suffer with an anxiousness that I’m a fraud, that my boss and peers don’t value me and this makes me feel lonely in work.

Not only am I lonely at work, I’m lonely outside of work. I have never been in a proper relationship, I don’t attract men (normal men) and I have no confidence to put myself out there because I don’t see the point in fooling someone into thinking I’d be worth going out with.

I have friends and we do lots of things together but all I gain from them are memories to file away. My friends talk about themselves, mostly, and I’m polite enough to keep asking them questions which keeps the ball in their court and they’re more than happy to play with it.

This irritates me because I see them as very self-centred. And I’m the kind of person that won’t ramble on about myself, so once I say my bit and they don’t ask anything more, I feel too guilty to continue talking for fear I’ll bore the lint off them.

I hate talking about myself. I hate opening up. I hate people asking me questions because I don’t want them to know how empty I am. How boring and childish and stupid I am. I still live at home with my family and I feel like that’s stunted my growth. I’m nearly 30 and I feel 16. This makes me feel quiet around my family, and my family is growing and changing and ageing and I feel stuck, left behind because I don’t know how to grow and change without feeling so self-conscious about it all.

I work because I have to. I socialise because I have to. And I live because I have to. I seem to have missed the memo on having a desire. How and when will I start to feel full?

Mary replies: You certainly do sound lost, and reading your email, I would really like to have you sitting in front of me so that I could get a fuller picture of your life. I would also like to know more about your family and your relationship with them. But that is not possible so I will have to go with the information you have given me.

What comes across loud and clear is that you don’t like yourself very much. You have a good job that involves people and if you were not good at it, you would not still have it. You have a worry that you will in some way be ‘found out’ and revealed to be some sort of imposter. It is quite common in all walks of life for people to feel unsure of themselves, so don’t feel that you are alone in this way of thinking.

You should try to overcome this by talking yourself through your anxieties. Write down a list of what you have achieved so far workwise, whether it is exams you have passed or positions you have held, and this will help to validate your inner self.

Regarding your personal life, yours is very much a case of ‘I’m afraid to let you know me, because if you know me, you may not like me’. If you don’t like yourself, then of course you don’t like opening up to other people because they might not like you. But talking about yourself is showing that you trust the other person, and this in turn encourages them to open up to you. It has to be done in small steps — nobody wants to hear anyone else’s life story — but just enough to make them interested in getting to know you a little better. That is how friendships are built.

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So it keeps coming back to liking yourself and being kind to yourself. I know that it is easier to say than to do, and it would be great if you could get some professional help. I suggest contacting a psychologist through psychologicalsociety.ie. They will be able to help you in far greater detail than I can through this column and I sincerely hope you can find your way to a happier and more fulfilling life. A life that hopefully would see you find the desire to do new things.

To enjoy theatre, music — perhaps even learning an instrument — run a marathon, learn a new language or take up a sport. And, above all, to like yourself.

You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting dearmary.ie or email her at dearmary@independent.ie or write c/o 27-32 Talbot St, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.


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