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I’m wasting my life away

I’m a 21 girl and I’m wasting my life away. I’m going to give some backstory to how I got to this point.

When I was a kid I never had any stability in my life because of my family’s drug addictions. I moved around a lot. When I was 12 my mom moved us all in (me, her, and my older brother) with her then boyfriend, losing our house. She started doing pain pills and my brother started doing heroin. The boyfriend started cooking meth in the house and smoking it. My mom’s pill addiction gave me PTSD because of the harmful situations she put me in. I won’t go into detail but these experiences still haunt me to this day. She also overdosed about five times. My brother’s heroin addiction caused him to steal nearly everything I had ever owned. I never got to keep my video games, my favorite escape. The boyfriend’s meth addiction caused him to never pay the cable or internet bill so I never got to watch TV or use the computer like other kids my age. Life was like this for about three years.

One day we found out the boyfriend was cheating on my mom and out of the blue he brings home his new girlfriend, her HUSBAND, their two teenage kids, and about six dogs to live in our home. It was 8 people (who all hated each other) living in a three bedroom trailer. It was incredibly awkward and miserable. We didn’t have anywhere else to stay. I was about 15 then.

When I was 16 my mom finally got enough money for our own house. She had also stopped abusing pain pills. My brother was still on heroin though, taking everything I had and constantly fighting with my mom for money. We didn’t live in this home for long because we somehow got a severe infestation of bed bugs. I lived with the bugs for months, and let me tell ya… I still imagine those things crawling all over me.

We ended up moving into a one bedroom apartment an hour away. By then I was 17 and a junior. I had to switch schools. Living in this apartment was madness. The new school was terrible. I couldn’t make any friends and I was failing all my classes. I talked my mom into letting me try online school. I think I would have really excelled at it if my brother’s addiction hadn’t spiraled. My heroin addict cousin also stayed with us a lot. They started using fentanyl over heroin. My brother needed even MORE money every day and more of my things kept coming up “missing”. H was also ripping people off via drug dealing and we had to be careful answering the door because he had guys threatening to shoot us all. My cousin was overdoing DAILY. Like, close to death blue face kind of thing. One night I got into a fight with her and she overdosed in front of me on purpose. That was my breaking point. Living in a one bedroom apartment meant having no where to escape so I had a mental breakdown. I begged my mom to take me to a mental facility just so I could get away. And she did.

And it was a mistake. I thought they would help me but the facility was corrupt. I remember one of the staff straight up telling one of the patients she was only working there for the credits. My therapist there was extremely mean and uncaring. They told me I “cried too much”. I was nearing my 18th birthday and the other kids started telling me I would be moved to the adults ward with the rapists. I believed them and left the facility “against medical advice” on my 18th birthday. When I got home everyone told me I only went there for “attention”. I’ve never craved attention in my life.

I failed all my online classes. I was just so behind and couldn’t catch up. I decided to go back to high school and graduate one year late at 19. While finishing out the school year my mom was able to make a down payment on a TWO bedroom trailer. We moved in and I finally, finally got my own bedroom. A few months later though my brother gets us kicked out of the trailer park for drug dealing. It costs thousands to move but we just recently did it.

I just recently turned 21. I am in my second year of community college. My brother has stopped using. I don’t know long it will stay like that but for now he has stopped. My life isn’t completely calm but much more so than ever before.

Now for a bit of a tone shift. I don’t know what i’m doing with my life. I’m working on getting a visual communications degree because I like art. My dream is to be a storyboard artist because I love animation. However, i’m struggling. I have a hard time making myself do my assignments. Everyone else in my classes are so passionate about the things they are working on and everything I turn in falls short. I never practice my drawing skills. I have absolutely no dive for the future.

I feel much more like a teenager than a twenty-something. When it’s the weekend all I want to do is lay around and play video games and watch Netflix. I never got to do these things before but now when I do I feel like i’m wasting my time because i’m getting old. I feel ashamed of being so lazy and irresponsible as a 21 year old. I’m just so exhausted from life. It’s been a never ending cyclone of drama. I want to have a successful future but I never work to improve my skills. I even feel ashamed liking the things I do because of my age. I feel bad about myself for reading YA books because I relate more to them than adult books. I feel bad about myself for watching cartoons and playing games all day. I feel bad about myself for not having the motivation to do anything a 21 year old should be doing. I feel bad about living out the teenage years I never got.

I just don’t know what to do. It’s not like life is going to slow down just for me. I can’t handle the thought of having responsibilities. I’ve already failed a couple classes.

Thank you so much to anyone who took the time to just read this. I know it’s long but it means so, so much to me. Thank you.

Hey wolflover,
First off, thank you for being strong and brave enough to share your story with us. I know it’s hard, but sharing and acknowledging your feelings is one of the first steps to healing from your pain and learning and growing and coping. I am so sorry for all that you had to go through and see in your family, and the corruption of the mental facility; that’s bullshit from those “therapists”, and you deserved to be treated better (and of course still do), especially when you were there seeking help.
I definitely relate to your struggles: feeling lazy, feeling irresponsible, feeling unmotivated. The thing is, a lot of people our age can relate to those feelings, too! We’re all young, we’re all going through things, struggling, in that weird zone between teenage-time and adulthood. And yeah, of course we do things that are unproductive or “lazy”-- but like you said, you never really got the chance to live out your teenage years during your teenage years, so why not be able to read YA novels or play video games now? There’s absolutely no shame in enjoying those things; you’d find people all over who do those things regularly!
And I get it: it’s so easy to feel like a failure. Failing classes, not doing “enough”, not being “enough”-- those ideas are so easy to come by. But even if you feel like you aren’t doing enough, just starting things, just doing little things, can make big changes. Turning in assignments late or half-done or for partial credit is better than never turning them in. Starting and not finishing is better than not starting. Sometimes, baby steps are what’s needed, especially when you had a rough start in life.
It’s hard to accept, but life doesn’t slow down for us. That’s something I’m also really struggling to come to terms with. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do the things you love or that you’re actually “running out” of that time. It just means you can try small things to focus and to appreciate the time that you do have.
I really hope you can gain a feeling of control over your life and your choices. It’s hard, but you’ll get through all this. You’re strong, and as long as you’re on this earth you have the ability to do good things and to make changes.
Much love.

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Thank you so much for the reply! It really means a lot to me. “Starting and not finishing is better than not starting.” really had an impact on me because it’s something I had never even considered. I always get so overwhelmed with even the slightest assignment that I sometimes never even start. Its just so frustrating that every school year I manage to fall behind the rest of the class. Maybe with your advice I can at least stay in the loop.

It’s also comforting to know i’m not alone with the way I feel. I always feel that if another person in their twenties knew how I was living they would think I was a complete loser. I want to be independent and productive but I just don’t see that coming into fruition anytime soon. Anytime I get to just relax and read books and watch movies are the only times I feel happy. Somehow the other people in my classes manage to relax AND work on projects. I have absolutely no idea how. It’s like when we come back to school over the weekend the teacher will ask, “Did anyone come up with ideas for the project?” and everyone has ideas but me. I just sit there and think, “you guys actually thought about school stuff over the weekend?”. I wish I knew how to be like them.

Wolflover,

The courage you have in simply sharing your story is truly amazing. Thank you for sharing! After reading through your post, one thing really popped out to me. You mentioned that your life hasn’t completely calmed down but has calmed down more than it has before. To me, this says that you have reached a point where you have overcome the trials of yesterday, and are able to focus more on today. I think that is a step to take pride in! You have overcome a lot of pain, struggle, and hurt in your recent years. However, look at where you have been, and where you are now and know that you have come a long way. Like climbing a mountain, you are going to reach a point where you look up and see how far you have yet to go. You look at the top of the mountain you are on and start to believe that you will not reach the top, and it can be demoralizing to even think about continuing on any further. However, if you look down behind you, you’ll see how far you’ve made it so far. Every step you took, every trial you have gone through, has brought you one step closer to the top of this mountain. Let that be the force that motivates you to continue on!

You are in school, and you have an idea of what you want to do, but lack the motivation to do so. But remember, just like the mountain, look how far you’ve come. I’m sure that a few years ago you probably never even thought that you would get anywhere near this point you are at right now. You’ve already shown yourself that you can start! There was a point in time that I struggled to have any will or motivation to finish college because I am beyond my 5th year in my college career when I feel like I should already be done. However, a good friend once told me that to not think about just “finishing” school, he told me to beat it. This means instead of loathing school and trying to finish, you have the chance to work hard and overpower that struggle to finish, work to get the good grades, and prove to yourself that you can beat this feeling! Yes, your free time is important because you get to relax and catch a break from the responsibility and the madness, but the truth is we can never outrun responsibility. Time management is essential. Spread your free time out between your school work and other responsibilities. Get done some assignments, put good effort into them, and when you reach a comfortable point (don’t push yourself to the point where you start to hate it) then take a break and take some time to enjoy yourself (read some more of a book, watch a movie, play a game, etc.).

It seems like you have come so far and overcome a lot of troubles over the recent years, and that is something to be hopeful about. You are on a mountain right now. You can either choose to stare up at the top and think about how far you have to go, or you can look back and see how far you have come, and tell yourself “I can keep going” and keep on climbing! There will be multiple mountains in life, so even when we reach the top of one, there will be more that you will have to climb even if you don’t want to. But once you conquer one, no one can take that away from you because you made it, and sometimes that is all the motivation you need to keep moving on.

I hope this helps friend!

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Thank you for the kind and thoughtful reply!

Sometimes I just feel like i’m slipping down that mountain. I feel like i’ve already lived about three lifetimes and i’m exhausted. I need to remind myself about how much i’ve overcome and that in life you never stop fighting. It’s like i’m aware of all the things I need to do (like time management, taking up my responsibilities, etc.) but the hard part is making myself do them. I don’t know how to fix this. How does one fix themselves? Maybe I need more determination, but where do I get that? Sometimes I worry that i’ve given up on life. I really don’t want that to be the case. I have a dream of someday living on my own having a career and making steady money. I know exactly how to achieve this, yet I can’t seem to make myself do it. I don’t know what is wrong with me.

Absolutely!

I understand exactly what you are saying. You know the determination and the will power it will take to achieve these goals and power through, but finding that determination and motivation within yourself feels impossible. One of the best things that can help you combat this issue is having a good support network.Tackling these challenges alone is near impossible, so start surrounding yourself with people that you know are going to support you and encourage you to get things done. Not just people that are going to say, “you need to get this done or going to fail,” (that’s not the most encouraging), but find people that can understand what you are trying to do, what you are trying to achieve, and seek advice from them. This could be close friends, fellow classmates, or someone in between. I think your fellow classmates are going to relate the most because they to probably struggle with finding motivation to complete some of these assignments. You don’t have to combat this alone at all. I know reaching out to others might be scary, or you may feel like no one will understand, but I think the fact you reached out on this forum shows that you are stepping out to seek some help, and that is a good step. Also, I’m sure your school offers some form of tutoring, counselling, or some other support system that you could utilize. The community college I attended had great resources for counseling and support, and I think you may find your school does too!

I think you are on the right track to a more positive mentality. You know what you want to do, you know what you need to do, you know where you want to be, but it is all about getting from point A to point B. You have a long term goal, which is great! But break that goal up into smaller goals. Setting a goal to get through your next semester with good grades is a great goal to have in mind. And if you need to, you can keep breaking down that goal into even smaller goals in order to keep nudging yourself forward to complete one small goal after another. You can do it!

I am not sure what your religious affiliation is, but there is a story within the bible that I think you may find some comfort in. It is the story of Elijah in the book of 1 Kings, chapters 17 - 19 (you can google it if you are interested). It preaches the highs and lows of faith, however if you read it closely you will see how when Elijah was at his lowest and was running for his life away from people that wanted to kill him, all he wanted to do was lay down and die because he was so tired and did not want to continue. But, little by little, God kept nudging him forward to keep going by sending an angel to provide food and water to him, because it was just enough for him to keep going so he could see God once more.

Stay the course friend!