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I’m scared of other people…

… but I need a job and my brother depends on me.

Can our elder persuade a self-confessed “bedroom lurker” to take the first step?

Dear EWC

So I’ve been jobless for almost 10 months now, earning very little from doing the things I love the most. Now I’m at the point of selling things in our home because my earnings are not enough to sustain me and my PWD brother who lives with me. Next year the house we currently live in will be foreclosed and I need to find somewhere else real soon. My problem really just sounds simple but I don’t know what it is and how to overcome it. I try to avoid human interaction especially with strangers and I strongly prefer staying at home all day. This becomes a problem when money and job are needed like right now. The thought that I have to go outside and talk to people in companies in order to get myself a job is something I’m afraid/hate to do. I keep thinking like this day after day and I’ve been wasting so much time with nothing being done.

These are some of my thoughts: I am only a high school graduate, at age 29. Who will take me seriously? I’m a loser who accomplished nothing. I don’t want to hear others say it to me because I can hear it from myself. Hearing it from others will cause greater heartache. I’m also single and try to avoid any affairs with females. I know this is negative thinking and being afraid of losing/rejection, but how can I try to be positive when every criticism I have for myself is true? I don’t want to fill my thoughts with sugar coating lies. How do I make myself not afraid of losing and rejection? How do I get rid of being afraid or hating people? I can’t live like this though I only want to improve because I have to look for my brother. I guess I’m fine being a bedroom lurker if I didn’t have anyone depending on me. Thank you for your advice.

Ketchman replies

I was saddened to hear of your situation. I’m glad you contacted us.

Based on what you’ve related, there are two issues that need to be addressed. Obviously, one is your fear of having interactions with others, and the other is your need for job skills qualifying you for opportunities better than those available for applicants without post-high school training.

In my opinion, you should get that training for several equally important reasons. Having some specific high demand job skills will qualify you for employment at significantly higher wages than what’s available for applicants with no post-high school training. There will also be a lot more positions available for those with that additional training; and, perhaps most important, getting a certification for a job skill is a worthy accomplishment that will do a lot for your self-esteem.

I realize that you’re in something of a dilemma in that you need the income of a job while I’m suggesting you also need to be getting some training — all the while dealing with your fears of human interaction. It won’t be easy but, as the saying goes, desperate times call for desperate measures.

Here’s what I suggest. Try to discover what sort of work, better paid than what you’re currently doing, that you might find interesting and where to obtain the required training. I’m assuming you’re in the U.S. and, if that’s the case, your nearest public community college will be one of the best resources for that. Their career counselors can help you make those discoveries, show you where and how to get whatever training is required and suggest various sources of funding for that training. Most community colleges are well experienced in educating working adults and many of their courses are designed to be taken nights or weekends or online. Your objective will be to establish a goal to be working towards.

You’ll also need to discover what sort of government and private sources of aid are available. Importantly, Medicaid — the federal provider of health care — offers behavioral counseling services. I think it’s important for you to get the kind of assistance that will help you to address your fears. I’m far from being a mental health professional, but I’m pretty confident that, with appropriate counseling, you’ll be able to overcome, or at least learn to deal with, your fears. That, alone, will open all sorts of doors for you to explore the marvelous experiences that are waiting for you.

Another source of assistance that might be available are the local agencies available through your United Way organization. In most of the U.S., you can reach them by dialing 211. You can go to www.211.org to see if the 211 service is available in your area. If not, you can contact the United Way organization by telephone.

The referrals I’ve suggested assume that you’re a U.S. resident. Many countries have similar organizations operated by governmental or private agencies. If you’re not living in the U.S. you’ll need to do some of your own research to find those organizations. A good place to start would be the government office that concerns itself with social welfare services. In Canada, for example, that would be Service Canada.

No one is, intrinsically, a “loser”. You certainly don’t seem to be. Your message shows you to be an effective and logical, communicator — a valuable skill. You’ve recognized the issues that need to be addressed and you’re committed to helping your brother. Those are not the characteristics of a loser. We all start with a built-in collection of advantages and disadvantages — the fortunate ones having a much bigger collection of the former and a tiny number of the latter. Beyond that, we’re all blank slates that will be affected by circumstance but, mostly, by our decisions and actions. You’re still young enough to be able to write a far better future than your history has been. The first step on that journey is to establish some goals — I’m suggesting the goals of a career choice and the enhancement of your ability to work with others. I suspect that once you set those goals, and a plan for reaching them, and have taken the first steps on that journey you’ll likely start feeling a lot better about yourself. You’ll be on your way out of the hole.

What I’ve suggested won’t be easy — but the attainment of most worthwhile objectives usually isn’t. It is within your power to make it happen and, while life offers no guarantees of success, the failure to take action is, most certainly, a guarantee of failure. The first step is the hardest — I hope you’ll take it.

There’s always someone here for you and I hope you’ll continue to use us as a resource whenever you’d like a second opinion or bit of advice with most anything that might come up, We’ll always do our best for you. Thank you for giving me a chance to help. I hope I have.

Letter #: 448754
Category: Self-Improvement

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