Help, I Think My Self-esteem Is Broken

I’ve recently realized that I’ve developed a really bad habit related to talking about things in my adult life. I don’t. Well, not without prompting. I hardly ever engage in a conversation about either my job search or living in my apartment unless someone asks me a direct question. And even then I’m leary.

It’s not that I don’t want to talk about these things. When I got my first job interview I was ecstatic to talk about how it went. In fact anything good, especially anything that’s not directly my choice, I’ll more than gladly talk about.

But I’ve noticed more and more I hesitate to talk about decisions I’ve made or choices I’m considering. And when I do it’s mostly me making excuses or trying to justify the situation to someone. More often than not though, the person hasn’t disagreed with me I’ve just assumed they would.

I once heard a comedian do a bit about conversation between two people. He said any conversation is usually made up of six parts. On one side is what you say, what you think you say and what the other person hears. On the other side is what you hear, what they said and what they think they said. I think somewhere in the midst of this is where my trouble happens.

I could be having a completely innocent conversation about my job search and take something the other person says in a totally backward way to how they meant it. From that point I’m immediately on the defensive trying to justify my side of the conversation when that’s totally unnecessary to begin with.

Case in point, I had a conversation recently where I was given what I was told was strictly this person’s opinion, i.e that I should focus on getting any job that would pay the bills instead of focusing on a position that would further my career. Sound advice, especially given our current financial situation, but what stuck with me was the thought that this person didn’t think I was trying hard enough to get a job and that I was focused on the wrong things.

That wasn’t the point at all. The statement was made purely as an opinion and something to hopefully help me. But the opposite message is still sticking with me hours later. And I’m making a habit of that. It’s as if I don’t have any faith in the choices I’m making and just waiting for someone to come along and tell me that everything I’m doing is wrong. I’m twenty-four and live in fear of my membership to adulthood being revoked.

I know part of it is the fact that the progress I am making is slow. I haven’t had much success so it feels like I must not be trying hard enough. And when people ask me how things are going and I don’t have the good news I think they’re looking for I feel like a failure. So I justify what I have done and defend my game plan to someone who never attacked it in the first place.

Obviously responding to genuine interest and concern like this isn’t my intent. And if we’re ever in a conversation and this happens, consider this my apology in advance. I’m still adjusting to this thing called adulthood, and I’m finally realizing getting adjusted may take the rest of my life.

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