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I am highly educated but unable to connect with people around me and perform my work

heart to heart Question
I am 25 years old. I am highly qualified (Graduate then Post Graduate and then Masters), but, I am still unable to bring my theoretical knowledge into practice. When I was small I was not allowed to play games or do other fun actives. I concentrated only on studies and now I am unable to connect with people around. I think I am frustrated. Whenever I decide to take up anything which requires particle effort, I am unable to perform. I feel scared to take decisions which are meant to be taken. I don't like to be alone and still I stay alone all the time. Whenever I go for a job hunt I am scared with the very thought of performing it as per the expectations of the employer.
Reply by Coach Doris Jeanette Doris Jeanette
I am so sad to hear about your upbringing. Many parents do not realize the damage they are doing to their children by forcing them to study all the time and get high grades. Several of the clients that I have seen in my Philadelphia office in the last few years have been highly educated Indian children who were not allowed to play, relax and enjoy themselves as children. The results of this unfortunate learning are just as you describe them -- frustration, unhappiness, extreme social anxiety and performance anxiety.

Not allowing children to develop naturally and fully in terms of playing, relaxing, socializing and being with others in unregulated day-to-day activities makes for unhealthy adults.

You have been conditioned into a small, little box where you are outwardly controlled by others and do not know what you need or want for yourself. You could suffer from mental, emotional and physical problems if you do not take positive actions now to help yourself.

To correct your problem you need to unlearn the unhealthy things you learned from your parents. Being able to unlearn what you learned is a highly valuable skill that every single human being needs to possess if they want to be successful in life.

The good news is you can unlearn anything that you learned that is not healthy for you. Since you learned to study all the time, the first thing you need to do is unlearn this unhealthy habit!

To be successful in unlearning something, you need to know what, where and when you get anxious. In addition, you need to know what your real fears are in the new situations you desire to be comfortable in.

One thing you have already told me in your question is that you learned to be anxious when you are not studying. Therefore, you need to unlearn this unhelpful habit. So you need to learn that you can be relaxed, safe and secure when you are not studying.

You can shift out of mental, thinking, reading activities by taking small baby steps away from studying. When you get anxious you need to stop and relax your body and mind and not push yourself forward.

The trick is to never let your anxiety overwhelm you or you will not be successful in creating positive learning. As you slowly create positive learning experiences you will step out of your highly educated mind and explore the exciting, wonderful world you live in. You do not have to continue to suffer with loneliness, fear and anxiety.

Doris Jeanette is a licensed psychologist with a holistic approach and 34 years of clinical experience teaching people to overcome anxieties and fears. Her Overcome Anxiety Naturally online course takes you step by step out of your anxiety into relaxation, loving relationships and better performance. Learn how to unlearn unhealthy thoughts and behaviors. Read more and order here.

Read more questions on this topic


Sujata Devcomments, June 2010:
My observations and comments :

The person in question needs to get two thing straight...

  1. It is not the fear of taking a decision but that of the consequences to be faced once the decision is taken - that is what he/she is up against.
  2. Learning in life is an unending process; it can be formal or informal. So for this person the highly educated phase is only the first part of formal education - but he/she has not reached anywhere near this stage in the second part of learning, which is informal.
All our lives we are learning, or should I put it this way, we are studying books, people, situations, etc. So now, instead of blaming parents or someone else lets look at it in a way which is: now I have graduated the book level, it's time I get into the next level of practical / experiental learning, i.e. studying people and situations. And that requires interacting with them, taking challenges to study situations and to think in the direction: if I do this what is the worst thing that can happen at the most? So, take a leap!

I myself used to worry unnecessarily until one day I was told I had a stomach ulcer which was related to stress. I was damn scared and thought what was I doing to myself as I had generally been a positive person but had lately started worrying on the job front a lot.

Well there and then I decided I will take each moment as a challenge and will maintain the mindset of "What is the worse thing that can happen to me if I do this?" and then get going. There I was, ready to take a dive!!

So question your self-set limitations and let go to ride higher tides!

Mary comments, June 2010:
First, thank you for putting together such a diverse and thoughful e-news and download magazine. While you may have a count of e-news opt-ins, I'm sure you have no idea how many others benefit from the information and inspiration found here.

Now, for my comment/question regarding the person who did not get to develop socially due to parental pressure to study and achieve academic excellence.

I was wondering if this type of outcome is also found with child athletes and actors? I was a national level child athlete from 8-18. That meant 2 hrs training before school, 4 hrs after school, homework, bed. weekends were practice again or going somewhere in the nation to compete. At my side was my father, who had a normal childhood, but went on to be an Olympic caliber athlete in college. While I truly loved it at the time, when a serious muscle tear brought my competitive days to an end, I found I had no other identity if I wasn't that athlete. As an older teenager, I also found I lacked the social skills to be able to integrate with "normal" students.

Thank goodness, I had a mother who actually "taught" me how to get a long with people, skills, tactics, etc. or I would have been miserable. It's also probably no coincidence that I ended up majoring and working in Communications as a career. Some sort of attempt at reconciliation.

While there were not many overly intense athletes like me around growing up, I'm seeing a lot of kids these days who are going down the same path I did. If your advice to the question is applicable to child athletes, perhaps this would be a helpful thing to mention to readers in case any of them are unknowingly creating the same circumstance.

Today I'm 45 yrs old and have two children. One of whom is a "mini-me." While I encourage her physical activity, I will not let her over focus in one area to the exclusion of others. I'd rather she learn life skills growning up than medals and trophies.

Bir comments, June 2010:
There are a large number of people like you. I do not blame your parents for making you read more and more.

Life today is very competitive. The parents have to make sure that the children, especially daughters, do well in education. The most important event in a girl’s life is getting a good husband-a life partner. Good grades in school or college are a must.

I see that you are a very well qualified person. What you lack is self-confidence.

You should have more exposure. Meet a lot of people-men and women, with the knowledge that you are a much better qualified person than them. In due course, you will find your own worth - they will too. Assert yourself. Start with a "half full glass - not a half empty glass." With a confidence that you will win. But please! Study the situation, in full detail, and for a person like you, no situation can be very complicated. You do not really know yourself. There are not many girls like you around. Have that confidence and act intelligently. You are a great girl.

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