The Truth is I Just Don’t Care

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Reader’s Question

My mother has been urging me to see a doctor for quite some time now, saying that I must have a problem brainwise. I’m a smart guy, I’m just sort of bored with life, and I don’t think that warrants seeing a doctor. Here goes anyways.

I’m 20 years old and find myself nowhere in life. My parents moved to Europe when I was 17 and I’ve been living with my older brother in my parents’ house in Canada ever since. The plan was to keep going to school here, as it’s cheaper. About two months after my parents moved, I dropped out of school (I didn’t know then, and still don’t know what I want to do) and started doing pretty much nothing. The truth is I just don’t care: I find life boring and meaningless. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been at the center of any problems in my family. I wet my bed until I was 12 (lots of screaming about that), I’ve lied about everything for fun or to get out of trouble (I only do it when I’m bored nowadays), and every argument imaginable was because my father and I didn’t get along well. (He’s overly authoritative and demands respect; I don’t respond well to that.) I’ve had anger issues in the past, but I have them under control now (much easier now that I don’t live with my father). I’ve never really had friends because I find most people stupid and get bored of them very easily. I have trouble thinking ahead of time, and it’s not making my situation any easier.

I guess that’s what makes my mother think there’s something wrong with me. The way I see it, it could be worse (I’m not doing drugs or anything), and that’s just how I am; I’ll find my way when I do and that’s that. I thought I’d ask for someone’s thoughts on this so the next time she bothers me about it, I can tell her I’ve asked some professionals and they told me I’m fine.

Psychologist’s Reply

I’ll answer your question, but you’ll have to let me choose my own words. I won’t make a value judgment about the quality of your life. If you think being bored, finding life meaningless, lying for fun, and dealing with problematic anger is fine, then I respect that. What I would advise your mother to do is to cut the apron strings and let you choose your own life. If that means you succeed your own way, then congratulations. Honestly, I’d want to know how you do it. If that means you go hungry for a while until you find your motivation, then that’s fine too. That’s what it means to be an adult. You needn’t solve any problem that you don’t want to. You needn’t attend to personal or family problems if you don’t want to. You’re an adult, you’re responsible for yourself. To demonstrate that, I encourage you to be independent. If you are, for example, living in your brother’s house, make sure you pay him the going rate for rent. Don’t let people think you are freeloading. When you pay your own way, the worst anyone could say is you’re a bit eccentric, which is not so bad.

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Beyond that, I urge you to have compassion for your mother. You are an adult and you are responsible for yourself. It is not your fault if your life doesn’t jibe with the life she imagined for you. It is also not her fault if she wanted ‘more’ for you. Try to accept that, in her own way, she wants what is good for you. Although you may find it difficult to hear from her, she is wishing you well in her own way. Be the adult child and care a little for your mother without needing to prove to her whether you are fine or not. The way you live your life will be proof enough to yourself and others of just how fine you really are.

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