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Chrono

Spent The Last Few Years Turning My Life Around, But Still Feel Depressed.

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I originally studied something I was passionate about, but joblessness afterwards was imminent. We all know this story.

I was depressed and had panic attacks about what to do with my life, and the ability to support myself. I spent the last few years in grad school in an engineering program. It was so different from my former schooling, and I had panic attacks throughout, feeling I was always behind other younger students in aptitude. I graduate tomorrow, and did OK in school. I even have a new job. I should be happy. But my depression continues. I am about 30, and have become extremely sensitive about my skill level and aptitude at my new job. New 21 year old interns are arriving soon, their resumes are immaculate, and come from schools like Yale and Berkeley I have had panic attacks recently about everyone realizing just how behind and useless I am compared to these overachievers who are just a year or 2 out of high school. While I still feel like I'm trying to fake it till I make it. I know this is classic impostor syndrome, but in this case i am somewhat of a real impostor I'm a typical newbie, but I'm old and people I am sure expect more of me than what I am capable of.

The other day I was assigned what even I knew was a relatively simple task. I stayed late trying to fix it up. As the sun went down and I made zero progress, I felt this realization. Who am I kidding? I cannot do this. I am years behind in every aspect of life, and this will come to light as the newest, nearly decade younger people come in and shine before I've been able to show any usefulness.

This is a general, recent example, of how I have felt in most situations. Social events, school, etc. If I am driving myself and others, and make a wrong turn that sends us over a bridge and into traffic, and an hour late, I cannot see this as just an annoying mistake. I know it to be undeniable evidence that I am a loser.

I try not to compare, but I will always feel how my 20s were wasted, and I can never ever catch up to other people, especially younger ones. Thoughts like these make me fantasize about dying. Not suicide, just a tiredness of this pattern, that makes it impossible to smile 99% of the time.

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I'm 32 years old. I quit school in grade 7, I spent several years in my 20's working for and living with(only to make rent cheaper and get a ride to work) an abusive manipulative boss, I drown out those years and a handful of years after playing an mmo(Massive Multiplayer Online video game). I definitely wasted my 20's there's no question about that. But recently I got my learners (driver's)licence, and plan to go back to school to finish my education and get into university to take psychology. I'm not the smartest person on the planet(infact some may consider me to be "slow") but I am dedicated to taking this path so that I don't need to spend the rest of my life barely scraping by in crappy low income jobs.

I bet you're a lot smarter than I am, so you should have no problem achieving your goals, you just need to believe in yourself and be confident. Negative thoughts will hold you back from making good on your true potential. There's always going to be someone out there that's better than you in one way or another, there's no point in stressing yourself over it, if you put all of that energy into self improvment then there's no telling how far you can make it.

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Famous astronomer Neil DeGrasse Tyson said "Whether or not you can never be great at something, you can always become better at it. One day you'll wake up and find out just how good you actually became."

I think this is a great quote for you, especially for an engineer. You should be very proud of yourself for all you have accomplished, pulling yourself through grad school and even getting what sounds like a great job. But here you are, putting yourself down, comparing yourself to younger colleagues, and holding such high, unrealistic standards for yourself that even if you reached something close to them, you would always feel light years away, as is the nature of the human mind.

Let me tell you, I know what that feels like. Almost line to line I could feel that pain. I'm 25, still doing my undergrad in pure math, feel inferior to my younger peers, and question why I even try. As a result that has reflected in my grades and my mental health. So you have gotten through much more than you ever thought you would, no? Grad school is a grueling place itself. And the job interview process. Hell, even just normal everyday events like social gatherings. You are much more capable than your mind lets you believe. Stop comparing yourself to others who lived different lives, and be grateful for the person you were and the life you lived to get to where you are now. Wake up and look at how much BETTER you have become, and start holding yourself to your own standards. In time you'll learn to improve, improve, improve at your job until you excel. There is no substitute no matter how young and smart another person may be for dedication, time, and experience.

Give yourself a break, and good luck.

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I'm 22, and I feel like I wasted most of my life. I can relate. But I agree with the others. You've done so much in spite of your own neuroses. You've come so far and can do so many things that a lot of people on this forum are still dreaming about doing some day. I'm not going to sit here and tell you that you should be happy because it's pointless. If you're not, you're not. And if you never are, oh well.

It's like Adam Corolla says in one of The Joe Rogan Experience podcasts. "The advice I would give is... You're never going to feel like my buddy Donny sitting in the next room feels. Because he grew up with a family that, I think they had his first solid BM put in lucite and his mom still uses it as a paperweight, or it's hanging from the rearview mirror of her Denalli... I'll liken it to this. It's like a car that got rolled over a few times and no matter how much tape and bondo you put on it there's always going to be that door on the passenger side that's a little sticky. It's never going to shut right; it's never going to shot like a car that never got rolled. You got rolled. You got T-boned by a drunk driver at some point, and your door is always going to be a little sticky. That ain't a death sentence... The point is the rest of the world. You show them a person who's a good person, or a happy person, or a good husband, or a good employee, or a good father, or a good neighbor. You show them that person, and they'll take your word for it."

So you wasted your 20's. Whether or not you did is debatable. But either way, do you want to waste your 30's too? Do you want to waste your 40's? Your 50's? If you think you feel bad now, if you let this opportunity go now you'll regret it for the rest of your life. That extra life experience is important. It's shaped who you are today. It's been integral into sculpting you into who you are now. You can't get them back and do them over as you are now, but you can learn from your mistakes and not repeat them again. Instead of feeling sorry for yourself for not being quite as quick about it as the hotshot 21 year olds, work twice as hard as they do. Put your frustrations into your job, pour your anger and sorrow into your work ethic. Do your best to be the best at your job you can be. Do the jobs that no one else will do. Be the worker that everyone respects even if they don't all like you. Be the worker that makes everyone else look bad because you're actually doing your job at 110%. That you're actually giving it your all. That you actually still care about this job, your potential career. As long as you're focused on working, you can't focus on being sad. And this focus on work will spark a passion to do you work the best you can. And by doing your job the best you can all of the time (because your best fluctuates day to day), and showing that you are interested in the job and all of its parts (not just yours), and taking the advice of your peers, you will sculpt yourself into the very best employee that you can be. And people will notice that. You might not get rewarded for it. You might catch a lot of flack for it. But eventually you will start to move up the chain. I guarantee it.

It's not that hard to impress your boss, all you have to do is actually care about the work you're doing. Don't get so perfectionist about it you don't try at all. Try, make mistakes, you're new, you're supposed to. Every mistake you make will teach you more than any success. And it will ensure you never make the same one again! It'll take a couple months, but eventually you'll catch the rhythm. Eventually you'll hit your stride and become comfortable there because you know your job. And when you know your job, you can do it efficiently and are better able to learn how to do it even more efficiently and learn about other parts of the job. Show your bosses a company man. They'll want to give him a spot in an office somewhere. It might take a couple years, but once you get that office (especially if you aren't a jerk about your new authority), you'll have sway over your employees. And because you won't be some hotshot 21 year old who STARTED in management, you'll actually know what working there is like. You'll be able to sympathize with the employees. You'll be able to be a better boss than your boss, and not only will your new bosses like you, but your employees will start to like you too. They might not at first of course, and some might never, but people recognize a reasonable man. It's easy to hate someone who's ignorant and really has no idea what the job entails. It's hard to hate someone who knows the job in and out and gives you reasonable deadlines and makes your workspace a little easier to work in. Cut yourself a break, and start climbing that ladder. You'll be glad you did. Even if it doesn't work out, you'll have a glowing reference!!

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