My life is a complete failure. I’m a woman in my 50s who has never had a long-term, loving, intimate relationship. I’ve only had short-term romance, though I have a son I love very much. My work is boring. I don’t know what my life passion is. I have a few friends I see occasionally. I’m facing a lonely old age full of regret and lost opportunities. I don’t know how to avoid this outcome. I feel like it is due to an inability to connect with people. Is there hope for me?
Yes, hope exists for you, and for millions of others who also struggle at times with feelings of emptiness and despair. Change is possible. You can reinvent yourself. That is, get to know a different version of you and introduce her to the world.
Let’s count your successes. You have managed to stay upright on the planet for more than a half-century. You’ve given the world a young man who knows he is loved by you and can trust in that love. You are employed. Your life includes time with friends and a few romantic flings. If these experiences fail to fill your emptiness, practice savoring joy. When we focus on our troubles, they appear insurmountable. When we focus on our blessings, contentment grows. So don’t let your mind complain. Instead of wishing you had more time with friends, for example, obsess about sweet moments together. Allow your focus to enlarge those morsels until each overtakes the emptiness you feel.
Midlife prompts us to reflect and reset. It’s not a crisis, unless you want it to be. Enjoy a midlife catharsis. Purge attitudes and beliefs that block insight, compassion or joy. Stop yourself from projecting negativity into your future. Want to have good things to look forward to? Pay attention to the present moment. Ask yourself, “What can I do right now to feel good?” Smile. Dance. Read inspiring quotes. Shift into happy gear.
You must also forgive yourself for lost opportunities. Heal regrets by trusting that the woman you used to be did the best she could. When the woman you are now absolves the younger you, the connection to your authentic self deepens. The more connected you feel to yourself, the simpler it is to connect to others.
I’m 16 years old and I have nothing in common with my parents. We have never had a conversation about anything important. I don’t tell them anything about my life, and they don’t tell me anything about theirs. I just wanted to tell someone.
Thank you for trusting me with your feelings and situation. It’s OK if you feel disconnected from your parents. But it helps to have a few adults in your life with whom you can talk openly. If you don’t currently have a neighbor, relative, teacher or coach to talk with consistently, try to develop that kind of friendship. I know that we adults can be annoying at times, but we do care about you. Plus, we can offer perspectives that are often helpful in a teen’s decision-making process about well, whatever. And, of course, you can write to me whenever you like.