sugarcandy asks: I am about to begin university. There has been something that’s bothering me a lot. I don’t know if it’s just my anxiety acting up but lately, I feel so scared about my future. There have been very complicated things happening in my life. Family issues. And I just feel so uncertain about everything in my life. I don’t even know how to explain this to you. It’s just really confusing because I can’t pinpoint that one particular thing that’s bothering me. I question myself about this every night. The only reasonable thing I can think of is that maybe I’m just scared of losing. Cause over the last few years, I have lost a lot of people in my life that I didn’t want to lose. I feel like we just grew apart, almost all of them I don’t talk to anymore. And that worries me a lot. The thought of losing everything else that’s left. Like for example, money. I convinced myself like, this money has my back, like this money, can save me, it can still buy me happiness. And deep down, I know it’s not true. But I can’t help it when a person after person is leaving me. It’s like I replace them with money, which can at least buy me comfort and “temporary happiness.” In addition to that, I’ve seen some of my relatives going broke, and watching them go through the struggles of not having money, that even adds up more to my anxiety of losing it. I have a fear not being able to control my own life. Like, I know it’s impossible to know what will happen in the future but it frustrates me that if something bad did happen, I won’t be prepared for it. I know it sounds ridiculous but I don’t know. I used to believe that I could overcome any obstacles that come to me. But nowadays, I’m not sure if I still believe in it. Maybe I just need motivation, like real hard-core motivation. I have so much pressure from my family. I don’t have a lot of friends either. And this all just seems so scary to me. I don’t know what to do.
Hi sugarcandy –
There is absolutely nothing wrong with you. You’re correct about everything. Your letter shows me that you’re very mature and aware.
Now that’s not the response you expected, is it?!
Let me explain. If you ask a young child questions like “Do people go away?” “Do people die?” “Can someone run out of money?” they are very likely to give you the correct answer, “Yes.” But almost everyone, while they are growing up, faces moments when they really realize the possibility of loss. My human friend Handsome, for example, went to the funerals of his great-grandmother and his great-aunt when he was a child, but then, when he was a teenager, went through a complete period of shock when the father of a friend of his died – a man he wasn’t close to at all. His brain had literally developed to a degree where the death meant more to him than those others had.
Similarly, I’m sure you had childhood friends who moved away, or just decided they didn’t want to play with you, and those things made you sad. But now, as you’re finishing high school, your more mature brain is realizing how profound these losses are, and taking them in a completely new and different way.
And these realizations are GIGANTIC!
And of course, you have yet another reason to feel the power of all this, which is that you’re about to go through one of the biggest transitions of your life. I don’t think you mentioned in your letter, but are you actually moving away when you go to university? Leaving the home you’ve lived in your entire life?
Maybe a time one might start thinking deeply about loss!
So, again, I think you’re doing just fine. Though the lousy part of all this is the lack of motivation you’re feeling. Which also makes total sense.
I’m sure you’ve heard of Clinical Depression. It’s a horrible mental illness, based in chemical imbalances in the brain, and can ruin people’s lives. But there’s another thing, just regular everyday Depression, which everyone goes through – usually while in life transitions.
You see, your brain doesn’t quite know how to live in the new reality it’s about to enter. So it withdraws. Goes into almost a hibernation. While it figures out what it needs to about who you’re going to be next. I see this a lot in humans around age thirteen, as they deal with the changes going on in their bodies and interests. And going to college or university is another time it’s practically guaranteed.
Now you’ll notice that most of your schoolmates aren’t in the low, unmotivated, frightened mindset you are. Well, I’d say to give them six months to a year. And you’ll find nearly all of them get there. And every one will feel like they’re the first person ever to go through this! Even though you were just there!
In other words, sugarcandy, I’m saying yet again that you’re very mature and aware. More so than most teens at your stage of transition.
So I’m not going to give you cute platitudes – I’m not going to say the key to money is to bury more bones in your yard; I’m not going to say that the key to not losing friends is to jump on them and lick them more often.
Both are true, but I’m not going to say them!
No, instead I’m going to suggest that you keep doing exactly what you’ve been doing, examine the world from the reality you’re in, feel just as lost and frightened and numb as you’re feeling.
But I do want you to believe one thing. That this WILL PASS. That sometime soon (but I’m sorry, I don’t know how soon) you will find excitement and motivation and love like I feel when I get let off my leash at a beach! That you will wake up to a world full of possibilities and abundance and hope.
But that’s in your future. Once you’ve worked out what you have to at a very deep level.
So for now, I say to obey the old saying and “let sleeping dogs lie.” I’m going to let you be a bit depressed, and let your brain do its brilliant work (so far beyond the potential of mine), and become the you you are destined to be.
And I’m gonna LOVE seeing where all this goes!
With great respect and love,