Even though I’m on medication for both anxiety and depression, it feels like something sapped the joy out of me for the past two weeks. I haven’t felt like myself and can’t figure out why I’m battling the blues. After a deep conversation with a good friend this week, I realized two things mainly triggered my sadness––feeling like I’m “never good enough” and that my relationships seem one-sided.
So, how do these relate to the five love languages? Although Gary Chapman mainly wrote his book, “5 Love Languages,” for couples, the ideas he presents can apply to all relationships and help people understand how they give and receive love.
If you’ve never heard of those (you can discover your particular love language(s) through this test), here’s a list:
- Physical touch
- Quality time
- Acts of service
- Receiving gifts
- Words of affirmation
I’m actually one of the rare people who has two dominant love languages: words of affirmation and quality time (I fluctuate between the two).
Back to the conversation with my friend. After some processing, we discovered:
a) It felt like nothing I do ever amounts to anything and nobody notices the things I do.
b) I pour so much into relationships, yet it seems like my “friends” could care less about me and only seek my friendship when it’s convenient.
These two feelings actually started due to my experiences in high school and carried all the way through to today.
I’ll start with the first idea.
- Never feeling good enough
I practiced at least an hour of flute and color guard each day, so naturally, I became better, right? Wrong. I invested twice the amount of effort my teammates did, yet I barely matched their abilities. Anyways, I recall how a brass player told me during my sophomore year, “practice all you want, but you’ll never get better.”
I cried that day and wanted to stop playing flute. Thankfully, I didn’t, and I still play flute for Symphonic Winds at Biola. I had a similar experience with color guard. I became the assistant captain my senior year and my teammates criticized my efforts. I remember hearing gossip about how I thought I was so good, but really wasn’t. That bruised my self-confidence.
I even felt this way as a student. I recall earning 96 percents or above in all my classes, yet half my teachers never even realized I was in their class. On that note, they always praised kids who earned A minuses or B pluses, yet I never received any recognition for my excellent work. I didn’t earn any senior awards and was never recognized at the student of the month. It felt like I couldn’t do anything to get my teachers to notice me.
After coming to Biola, I thought I was in a much better place, yet I still had people tell me I could try very hard, but I would never succeed as a journalist.
I worked for the student newspaper during my first three semesters at Biola and worked very hard to earn a higher position––I freelanced for the news, sports, and features sections, then became the features apprentice. I excitedly applied for the features editor position at the end of my freshman year and found out a student who never wrote for the paper earned the position. I was devastated and felt betrayed.
I later found out the editor-in-chief that year told the new editor-in-chief that I was “too quiet to lead a team of writers.” Ouch. The new editor-in-chief offered me the features staff writer position, and I said “no” at first––it seemed like a peace offering designed to pacify my disappointment. However, I decided I’d pay my dues and wrote two to three articles a week as the features staff writer.
Both the design editors and the features editor moved on at the end of the fall semester, so I thought I finally had a chance to prove myself and applied for both positions. The call came during winter break and I was confident I secured one of the positions. My world shattered when I found out I didn’t get either one. Instead, the editor-in-chief offered me the design apprentice position. Once again, it felt like a slap in the face. No, I was not going to become an apprentice after I already did that for a semester.
I remember calling my parents in tears after this, telling them I wanted to switch majors. Eventually, I realized I could find better opportunities elsewhere and still stayed a journalism major.
If that rejection wasn’t enough, I applied for the student magazine three different times and didn’t receive a position. Thankfully, I received a position the fourth time I applied, yet it was only the fact-checker. I wasn’t even a writer. My self-worth definitely suffered during my sophomore year of college. It’s my last semester and I’ve finally made it on staff as a web writer. It took four long years.
2. One-sided relationships
It seems like I have a curse of picking friends who abuse my kindness.
I remember hanging out with a few different people in high school and thinking they actually liked me. I later realized, however, that they said hurtful things behind my back that friends wouldn’t.
As high school progressed, my good friends also moved onto other relationships. I’d sit with them during lunch and they’d completely ignore me. I’d call them, yet they never wanted to hang out.
I actually left high school with only a couple friends due to drama that happened my senior year. My friend became the head color guard captain and we bashed heads due to our different leadership styles. She frequently became angry at me and avoided me when I wanted to hang out with her. She acted kind to my face, then gossiped about me behind my back. Due to this, I didn’t talk to other students during freshman orientation activities at Biola. I didn’t know who I could and couldn’t trust.
Even though I’ve made great friends at Biola, I feel like I’m often the person who initiates things. I text people and ask them if they want to get dinner or talk over coffee, yet they’re always too busy for me. And then I see Instagram photos of them visiting hip coffee shops, going to concerts, or spending a day at the beach with their other friends. I’m also frequently left out when my friend groups organize activities.
I’ve felt incredibly lonely the past couple of weeks. After talking with a good friend (one who actually spends time with me) over coffee yesterday, we figured out that I really want quality time with my friends, yet some people don’t share the same value, so I’m worn-out from all my efforts.
How it all connects
Analyzing these feelings helped me realize they correspond with my love languages––words of affirmation and quality time.
I’ve felt depressed because I’ve lacked affirmation for the hundreds of hours I spend pleasing people. It feels like nobody cares about what I do, and as a creative person, it makes me feel worthless.
Second, I’ve missed hanging out with my friends. Even though I’m an introvert, I’m really a people person at heart and need conversations with good friends. These conversations have rarely happened over the past couple of weeks, so I’ve felt very isolated.
Finding your triggers
Take the test and find out what your love languages are, then track how they relate to your past and present experiences. It’ll take some time, but hopefully you’ll gain more insight about what creates those dark days.