I grew up an Air Force brat. This meant I moved around a lot and did not form lasting friendships. The only friend I have from childhood is my sister. I sometimes feel like I live in her shadow since she is older, but that is beside the point.
I am now 27 and have few friends. I have a very hard time making friends because I have terribly low self-esteem. I am always afraid people are judging me and talking about me behind my back. I think this relates back to my childhood, but I am just not able to get over this insecurity. I think I am beautiful and have a great family, so my insecurity is not about my looks; it's about who I am as a person. I never feel like I am good enough on the inside, like I am not worthy of having friends.
How do I get over this and make friends? I fear it's not as simple as going to a new book club.
You are right; it is not as simple as getting out there and meeting more people. You need to change what is going on inside yourself. The good news is that this is possible to do.
Moving frequently as a child is a circumstance of your life and a contributing factor to your problem, but it is not the cause. Yes, moving can make it more challenging to form lasting friendships, but it does not preclude doing so. Some people are so gregarious and sociable that they would manage to fill their life with friends even in those circumstances.
You also mention a lack of friends, low self-esteem, fear of judgment, and feelings of low self-worth. Again, these are not the causes of your problem -- they are symptoms. You need to identify the causes so you can recognize them, acknowledge the impact they are having on your life, and discard their influence.
What do you say to yourself when you are all alone? Is your internal self-talk positive or negative? You have already answered that -- you express doubt about yourself. You question whether you are good enough and tell yourself that you are not.
These fears came from somewhere. Your negative self-talk habit did not just spring up spontaneously. This is based on your accumulated life experiences. Somewhere in your past you have been conditioned to react like this. You have learned to do so.
Happily, you can also learn positive self-talk. One of the most effective ways to accomplish this is to go through a discovery exercise where you recognize the influences in your past that helped to create your self-defeating habits. You can identify the positive impacts that these influences contributed to your life (because you want to retain these), and then discard the negative aspects.
Such negative internal voices flourish in the dark. They love to remain anonymous. When you are feeling vulnerable and alone, they delight in showing just enough of themselves so they can tell you how unworthy you are and then they scurry back into their dark crevices. Dragging them into the harsh sunlight and exposing their true nature is often an effective way to recognize the lies they tell. Identifying the true nature of your self-talk can make it possible to manage it.
When that voice inside you says, "You know they won't like you," you can respond, "Hey, I recognize you. Thank you for your input. Now go back and sit on your stool in the corner and be quiet."
You are worthy of friendship. Everyone is! More than that, the problems you describe are incredibly common. I hear similar stories all the time, including from some of the most outwardly confident and successful people you can imagine. It is amazing how many of us struggle with those self-doubting internal voices. But they can be managed by finding someone to help guide you through the discovery process I described.
All the best,
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