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Would my life be better now if I had a normal happy childhood?

Discuss personal development, self-improvement and motivational psychology.

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Would my life be better now if I had a normal happy childhood?

Post by Winston » July 17th, 2010, 1:08 pm

Hi all,
I sometimes still have nightmares about being back in school, feeling alienated and lost in a sea of pressure. It's like part of me is trying to relive those days, trying to make up for it, as though I failed my juvenile testing ground and wish to "retake the test".

So I often wonder, if I had had a happy well adjusted high school life, would I have turned out to be a happy stable person with a good career, house and family, instead of a maladjusted rebel against the system?

The thing is, high school was a big disappointment. It was nothing like what you see in TV and movies, where everyone had a close social clique of friends that stuck by them everyday, whom you could tell all your problems, love dramas and crushes to. And where you eventually got to go to the prom with your sweetheart or crush. And along with all that, got good grades that qualified you for college scholarships.

Instead, I felt lots of pressure to do boring schoolwork, against my well, and persecution from my peers, which I did not know how to connect with. They seemed so fake and pretentious, as well as always angry and looking for something to hate and ridicule. Anyone who didn't fit in or felt intimidated was made into an easy target for the pack. The whole rigid clique scene and social labels never made sense to me. I never felt comfortable in such an insane and immature system, nor could I ever figure out how to excel in it.

I had no idea where I fit in. Even the nerds seemed odd to me, since they identified with their grades and academic life, whereas I didn't. I didn't really fit into any of the high school cliches. Nor did I know how to just join a clique, since the nature of high school cliques was inherently closed. The whole scene felt animalistic and hostile, as well as shallow, hateful and highly judgmental.

It certainly brought out the worst in me. And it felt like a prison more than anything else, both physically and psychologically.

So I wonder, if I had made an effort to be more "cool" by perhaps spiking my hair, wearing a shirt that said "The Cure" or "Motley Crue" on it, and dated someone (known as "going with") and had been someone, would that have made me more "normal" into my adult life? In other words, was there anything I could have done different that would have made my life different?

If so, would I have become a successful career driven person with a great income, nice house, nice cars, and good wife, the ideal middle class lifestyle, if I had passed the "testing ground"?

What do you think?

Were any of you highly disappointed by your high school experience too? If so, do you ever wonder the same things? Do you feel that part of you is trying to make up for failing the "testing ground"?

I later found out that my high school environment was more extreme than most, because I went to a school of upper middle class kids in Fremont, CA. Had I gone to a school of lower income kids, they would have been less persecutory (as what happened when I went to JFK High in my senior year). Plus California culture is more shallow and dysfunctional than the rest of the country too, and is infamous for that. So I wonder if I had gone to a better school, if anything would have been different.

College was a lot less pressure, since I could come and go whenever I wanted, and I had a choice of how many classes to take. But people seemed cold and all business there, like they just wanted to hurry up and graduate so they could make money. They weren't that interested in meeting people or forming friendships. I never lived in a dorm either, which was what you were supposed to do I guess, if you wanted to meet people and go to parties. Dorm life, I was told, had to be experienced, it couldn't be described, whatever that meant. Does it really make that much of a difference in your social life and ability to get dates?

The whole thing never felt natural and always brought out the worst in me. Something about it felt so "repressive". So I wonder, was there anything I could have done to change any of that? Even if I went back in time, could I have done anything different or turned out differently?

Is everything meant to be? Or do we sometimes make wrong turns in life?

Any thoughts?
Last edited by Winston on July 31st, 2010, 4:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Do any of you carry baggage from your high school years?

Post by Rock » July 17th, 2010, 3:07 pm

1. You sound like the odd man out in HS. I was similar. Except I had a super popular homecoming queen sister just one year behind me. That made my predicament so much worse. The constant phone calls, social events, dates, gal pals, etc. none of which involved me really rubbed it in. Actually, there was nothing wrong with me. I just created a super loser self image in my head which manifested itself in my social interactions and became a self full-filling prophecy.

2. Yea, you really should have rushed some frats or try dorm life. I did the latter and my floor gave me an automatic social life. If you were not some minority or foreign student (they had their own cafeteria tables) you could sit at your floor table. And often, a mini-cliques might form around you, your room mate, and a few other guys.

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Re: Do any of you carry baggage from your high school years?

Post by Winston » July 17th, 2010, 3:24 pm

Rock wrote:1. You sound like the odd man out in HS. I was similar. Except I had a super popular homecoming queen sister just one year behind me. That made my predicament so much worse. The constant phone calls, social events, dates, gal pals, etc. none of which involved me really rubbed it in. Actually, there was nothing wrong with me. I just created a super loser self image in my head which manifested itself in my social interactions and became a self full-filling prophecy.

2. Yea, you really should have rushed some frats or try dorm life. I did the latter and my floor gave me an automatic social life. If you were not some minority or foreign student (they had their own cafeteria tables) you could sit at your floor table. And often, a mini-cliques might form around you, your room mate, and a few other guys.
Were you able to fit in at least with the nerds and geeks though, or join their cliques?

I don't think you consciously create a loser self image. No one would do that on a level playing field. The vibes and atmosphere and collective feel of the high school culture bring that out in you. Basically if you are sensitive or weak, people pick up on that and use it to bring you down, so they can feel better and part of the pack. It's very dysfunctional.

Do you feel that you carry some baggage from it, subconsciously at least?

A lot of people in my commuter college, Cal State Hayward, sat by themselves in the food lounge. Most people did in fact. It was a very antisocial college and felt so isolating.
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Re: Do any of you carry baggage from your high school years?

Post by Rock » July 18th, 2010, 12:51 am

Winston wrote:
Were you able to fit in at least with the nerds and geeks though, or join their cliques?
No, just had one outcast friend. Nerds and geeks were prolly above me.
I don't think you consciously create a loser self image. No one would do that on a level playing field. The vibes and atmosphere and collective feel of the high school culture bring that out in you. Basically if you are sensitive or weak, people pick up on that and use it to bring you down, so they can feel better and part of the pack. It's very dysfunctional.
I believe I simply had low social intelligence. I was 'dumb in people' as one classmate put it. I didn't know what was going on. So I acted 'not there'. I was super nervous whenever an assignment or activity required me to speak-up in class or worse, do a speech in front of around 20 peers. I couldn't look directly at girls without getting red in the face and shaking. So I prolly fell at the bottom 5% of guys in my class at social interaction skills. I was not a 'nerd', 'retard', 'scum', 'druggie', 'motorhead', delinquent, or part of any other less desirable group. I was a true loner and simply tried to be invisible to avoid bringing attention to myself. Besides my one high school friend, my social life revolved around some neighbor kids who were several years older than me. Funny thing is, I was tall for my age (gained full stature by 13), and not that bad looking. But of course many girls found me ugly or untouchable given my 'issues'.
Do you feel that you carry some baggage from it, subconsciously at least?
Yes, that's for sure.
A lot of people in my commuter college, Cal State Hayward, sat by themselves in the food lounge. Most people did in fact. It was a very antisocial college and felt so isolating.
Commuter colleges suck for social environments. To me, that's not the real college experience.

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Post by Winston » July 18th, 2010, 11:16 am

So you know how I felt then.

Do you still feel today that you were the problem? Or that you were a normal person who just refused to fit into an insane unnatural system?

Eric Fromm said:

"The sick individual finds himself at home with all other similarly sick individuals. The whole culture is geared to this kind of pathology. The result is that the average individual does not experience the separateness and isolation the fully schizophrenic person feels. He feels at ease among those who suffer from the same deformation; in fact, it is the fully sane person who feels isolated in the insane society — and he may suffer so much from the incapacity to communicate that it is he who may become psychotic." (Eric Fromm, The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness)

Have you seen this article by Paul Graham? It describes the high school scene to a T and what makes it insane. You should read it.

http://paulgraham.com/nerds.html
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Post by Rock » July 18th, 2010, 2:10 pm

Winston wrote:So you know how I felt then.

Do you still feel today that you were the problem? Or that you were a normal person who just refused to fit into an insane unnatural system?
In my case, the problem was my own creation and I'll tell you why. I went to small town schools in the midwest which should be much more benign than yours. I did not have physical issues (normal looking and normal size) and my book IQ was sufficient. Yet I fell in the bottom 5% socially. I can only attribute this to my abnormally low level social street smarts. Regular average guys in my school did not have my problems. They had friends, a social life, and even girls. How can I blame my issues on something external when I was such an exceptional case? I just developed much more slowly in some ways than average kids. I bet if I could go back to 'my day' with the benefit of my current knowledge and experience, I could quickly work my way up into the popular crowd.

I know USA is quite messed-up. But I just got back from an extended trip there. Believe it or not, I saw plenty of regular guys on the streets holding hands or out on dates with decent to hot looking American gals. Not all average looking guys are dateless. I saw plenty of young married couples too. I just think supply-demand in the States highly favors women over men, at least for white guys. So a lot of guys get left out and understandably feel bitter about it. But its not like every eligible guy in the States is out of the game or punching way below his weight class. A quick example which comes to my mind is my parents' next door neighbor. Their daughter is a hot and sassy early 30s sexy blond gal. She's been married to her boyfriend from senior year at high school for the last 8 years. He's a slightly above average looking guy with a sweet mouth but no job or sense of responsibility. She has a great job at her parents radio station and fully supports him and their two beautiful children. And this guy runs off alone sometimes for several days at a time. She's definitely the sucker in this relationship.

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Post by Winston » July 18th, 2010, 2:52 pm

Rock wrote:
Winston wrote:So you know how I felt then.

Do you still feel today that you were the problem? Or that you were a normal person who just refused to fit into an insane unnatural system?
In my case, the problem was my own creation and I'll tell you why. I went to small town schools in the midwest which should be much more benign than yours. I did not have physical issues (normal looking and normal size) and my book IQ was sufficient. Yet I fell in the bottom 5% socially. I can only attribute this to my abnormally low level social street smarts. Regular average guys in my school did not have my problems. They had friends, a social life, and even girls. How can I blame my issues on something external when I was such an exceptional case? I just developed much more slowly in some ways than average kids. I bet if I could go back to 'my day' with the benefit of my current knowledge and experience, I could quickly work my way up into the popular crowd.

I know USA is quite messed-up. But I just got back from an extended trip there. Believe it or not, I saw plenty of regular guys on the streets holding hands or out on dates with decent to hot looking American gals. Not all average looking guys are dateless. I saw plenty of young married couples too. I just think supply-demand in the States highly favors women over men, at least for white guys. So a lot of guys get left out and understandably feel bitter about it. But its not like every eligible guy in the States is out of the game or punching way below his weight class. A quick example which comes to my mind is my parents' next door neighbor. Their daughter is a hot and sassy early 30s sexy blond gal. She's been married to her boyfriend from senior year at high school for the last 8 years. He's a slightly above average looking guy with a sweet mouth but no job or sense of responsibility. She has a great job at her parents radio station and fully supports him and their two beautiful children. And this guy runs off alone sometimes for several days at a time. She's definitely the sucker in this relationship.
I've seen that too. But you don't see the scores of depressed lonely guys at home by themselves with no one to go out with. I didn't say that every guy in America feels like us. But most guys will sympathize with us, even if they have someone, cause they know getting a date is difficult.

I also matured late as well. Maybe I didn't want to grow up or wasn't ready yet.

But the high school environment did not feel friendly or accepting. It felt hostile and closed. You know what I mean right? Yeah your high school was probably more benign.

What were you like in elementary school? I was also teased then too, beginning in 4th grade.

As said before, most people are conformists and play their roles and identify with them. We don't, so we have trouble fitting in to cliques. That's another issue. We aren't just "unlucky" people who got the short end of the stick.

Also, last time I was in the states, I felt a depressed vibe in people around me. They weren't happy or balanced, but zombies doing what they had to do. The US is definitely not a happy sane natural free place. That's for sure.
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Post by momopi » July 19th, 2010, 1:52 am

High school provided many group activities for people to socialize. There's sports teams for the physically active, science club and astronomy club for the science geeks, computer club for computer nerds, rock climbing for those up for the challenge, various ethnic clubs for minorities, and so on. At my HS the ethnic Chinese girls took over "short flag" cheerleading squad and it's all Asian.

If you choose to not take part in these activities and remain a loner, it's your decision. Nobody forced you to stay home instead of hauling big radio controlled planes to the park with friends. If there isn't a club with activities that interest you, you can find a teacher who's willing to sponsor you and start your own club -- we did that and had our own anime/RPG club. Half the room was playing Dungeons and Dragons and the other half were watching Kimagure Orange Road on VHS (tape rental).

The Japanaese have this vertical pinball machine called Pachinko. When you "win" many metal balls fall into a bucket, and you can exchange it for gifts and money (illegal). Pachinko was also an old slang from the 1980's for a light-hearted version of "our gang", meaning friends with similiar interests hanging out together. If your area of interest (hobbies) is so narrow that you cannot find your own pachinko, you probably need to get some hobbies.

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Post by Winston » July 19th, 2010, 5:11 pm

What about my question here?
So I wonder, if I had made an effort to be more "cool" by perhaps spiking my hair, wearing a shirt that said "The Cure" or "Motley Crue" on it, and dated someone (known as "going with") and had been someone, would that have made me more "normal" into my adult life? In other words, was there anything I could have done different that would have made my life different?

If so, would I have become a successful career driven person with a great income, nice house, nice cars, and good wife, the ideal middle class lifestyle, if I had passed the "testing ground"?

What do you think?
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Post by momopi » July 19th, 2010, 5:44 pm

Winston wrote:What about my question here?
So I wonder, if I had made an effort to be more "cool" by perhaps spiking my hair, wearing a shirt that said "The Cure" or "Motley Crue" on it, and dated someone (known as "going with") and had been someone, would that have made me more "normal" into my adult life? In other words, was there anything I could have done different that would have made my life different?

If so, would I have become a successful career driven person with a great income, nice house, nice cars, and good wife, the ideal middle class lifestyle, if I had passed the "testing ground"?

What do you think?

Eeewwwewewewewewewe. Ditch the punk attaire, grow your hair long and wear Van Halen t-shirts.

(Results may vary)

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Post by Winston » July 31st, 2010, 4:24 am

Let me put my question in another way:

Would my life be different if I had a normal happy childhood?

Suppose I had a happy childhood with friends, popularity, good grades, nice girlfriend, and all the things in the ideal childhood. And I knew what I wanted early in life. After high school, I would have either majored in journalism or acting, or a major of one and minor in the other.

Then I would have had a career in media or the entertainment industry, not necessarily as a star, but in some stable profession connected to it. I might have had a stable girlfriend or marriage too, from my network of connections.

Suppose all had gone as it should have above, then would I still have ended up where I am now? Or would I be completely different - a happy conformist to the system with money, stability, nice wife, the American dream, etc.?

What do you think?

What went wrong?

Was it all cause my parents brought me to a bad area with a school that was the least compatible with me, being the wrong time and location, possibly due to some jinx in my life? After all, my parents' decisions ALWAYS result me being around the wrong people and culture for me, since they are on a completely different wavelength, and even admit that they are completely antisocial. They are 100 percent practical and conservative. 100 percent. Whereas I am 100 percent passionate and disinterested in practical things. Thus, we are so different that everything that's positive to them, is negative to me, and vice versa. Thus they are like an energy dampener to me, albeit unintentionally. Around them, I can't be myself. My true self is suppressed around them, and I feel weak and insecure, all cause who I am does not fit in at all with who they are.

Why did the intelligent conscious universe allow that to happen, I wonder?

If I had been in a school and environment that was supportive, and I had matured faster, and all had gone according to plan, would my life be any different now?
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Post by momopi » August 1st, 2010, 6:08 pm

Winston wrote: Why did the intelligent conscious universe allow that to happen, I wonder?
There is no such thing, unless of course, the whole universe conspired against you.

Seriously, dude, I grew up poor and my parents couldn't even afford to buy me a bicycle when I was a kid. We lived in sh*tty apartments and my schools were infested with gang bangers. What if I was born into wealth and went to a snotty private school? We could go round and round on this until the cows come home. Life is like the stock market, there is no hind-sight allowed. You cannot go back and say "d@mn I wish I had bought AAPL at $60".

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Post by Winston » August 1st, 2010, 8:05 pm

momopi wrote:
Winston wrote: Why did the intelligent conscious universe allow that to happen, I wonder?
There is no such thing, unless of course, the whole universe conspired against you.

Seriously, dude, I grew up poor and my parents couldn't even afford to buy me a bicycle when I was a kid. We lived in sh*tty apartments and my schools were infested with gang bangers. What if I was born into wealth and went to a snotty private school? We could go round and round on this until the cows come home. Life is like the stock market, there is no hind-sight allowed. You cannot go back and say "d@mn I wish I had bought AAPL at $60".
You may not be aware of it. But if the universe were lifeless and not conscious, we would not be conscious. Consciousness can't come out of inanimate matter. You wouldn't be conscious if the universe wasn't.

You can't claim to know it all.
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Post by Jackal » August 1st, 2010, 9:17 pm

Winston wrote:Let me put my question in another way:

Would my life be different if I had a normal happy childhood?
Well, that's a big variable to change, so, sure, that would have had some effect. However, life can take a surprising turn at any moment. You could be captain of the football team and be worshipped like a god, but then hit a tree while drunk-driving home after the prom and die instantly. Or maybe you could have had the warmest, coziest family life, but then your mother could have suddenly died of a heart attack after your first year of college. So many unforseen things can happen that improving just one aspect of your life is no guarantee of avoiding suffering in the future.

But, having said that, holding all other variables constant, then yes, those who start on top tend to finish on top. Those who gain confidence early can then benefit from it early and keep increasing it to stay ahead of their peers.

It's also possible that your personality is rooted more deeply in yourself, and that having a happy, contented childhood would have only delayed your rebellion and discontent, rather than completely suppressing it.
momopi wrote:High school provided many group activities for people to socialize. There's sports teams for the physically active, science club and astronomy club for the science geeks, computer club for computer nerds, rock climbing for those up for the challenge, various ethnic clubs for minorities, and so on. At my HS the ethnic Chinese girls took over "short flag" cheerleading squad and it's all Asian.
Holy shit! You had Chinese girls at your high school! That's very cool! Did you date any of them?

My schools always had the usual demographics: mostly white, a few black people (well, a lot of ghetto black people when I went to a public high school), and then maybe a few Jewish kids. That was it.

I was obsessed with Spanish in middle school and high school, and I would have been in heaven if I had had the opportunity to talk to any native speakers of Spanish--even if they had been extremely fat and extremely ghetto. I also did martial arts, so I was obsessed with Japanese culture and language for a while. I also would have just about killed to meet some real Japanese people at that time. Unfortunately, I grew up in the suburbs in the northeast, so there weren't any foreigners near where I lived and I didn't have the money to commute to the city all the time. And this was before the internet was popular. Had I grown up in a heavily Hispanic and Asian state like California, I think my life would have been quite different.

Despite having some difficulties socializing like most of the others who posted in this thread, my main frustration in school was always how stupid my teachers always were. I'm not saying that I was a genius, but I was definitely smarter than average and I certainly was a hell of a lot more curious than average. Most high school and middle school teachers in my schools had average or below-average intelligence. I wish I had been able to finish high school early or at least been able to take university courses while I was still in high school, but I didn't have the money or the connections to make that happen. So much of my schooling in the US prior to college was almost a total waste of time from an educational point of view.

Part of the reason that I majored in mathematics in college was that I was fed up with all the stupid teachers I had had and that I finally wanted to learn from the few smart Americans. And I did get what I wanted--some of my American professors were so insanely smart that even the Chinese grad students were scared to death of them. I had my little intellectual odyssey, but ultimately, I realized that my main talent wasn't for math, so I went back in the direction of languages.

My hunger for knowledge has always been just as intense as my hunger for p***y. Shit, maybe I should go to grad school in Europe sometime... I don't know how I'd fund it, though. The American government never gives any money to people as unusual as me, and I've kept changing my specialty, so that's f***ed everything up, resume-wise.

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Post by momopi » August 2nd, 2010, 6:09 pm

Winston wrote:
momopi wrote:
Winston wrote: Why did the intelligent conscious universe allow that to happen, I wonder?
There is no such thing, unless of course, the whole universe conspired against you.
<snip>
You may not be aware of it. But if the universe were lifeless and not conscious, we would not be conscious. Consciousness can't come out of inanimate matter. You wouldn't be conscious if the universe wasn't.
You can't claim to know it all.
So, what makes you think an "intelligent conscious" universe would necessarily care, or be benevolent toward you? I just can't picture you being a very fun organic tamagotchi.
Jackal wrote: Holy shit! You had Chinese girls at your high school! That's very cool! Did you date any of them?
I went to high school in Southern California, we have many, many Asians here, plus foreign exchange students from Europe and Asia. I went out with (or "dated" depending on your definition) a number of girls in HS but did not have my first real GF until college. Actually, I started taking girls to school dances from Jr. High, back in the "Miami Vice" era when I dressed in pastel colors @_@. But that's another story. The "Chinese club" at my schools were packed to the room during our meetings.

Being in So Cal, we also have many Hispanics. During my HS years, the black and Latino gangs were competing for supremacy. My school was full of gang-bangers from "HG" boys (Hawaiian Gardens). Lots of gang fights, we had people who got stabbed, car-jacked at gun-point in the parking lot, and so on. Kind of like one of those animal planet shows where 2 tribes of apes went at each other.

We're only a couple hours north of Mexico, so back in HS me and couple of friends would pool our funds and head for the border. Picture a bunch of dumb kids standing across the street from a brothel, each holding a beer bottle and commenting "yeah I'd do that b*tch" while looking tough, until the cops come to chase us away. Loved the people in Mexico, but their cops are @%@$#%^@#$^.

I had a fairly positive experience with my HS teachers, primarily because I had a few really good ones that probably created a bias. 15 years after graduating HS, and my Spanish teacher still e-mails me and tells me to watch "A Day without A Mexican". LoL. I was a TA for my French teacher and after school, he and the French and Spanish teachers would meet at the Mexican restaurant across the street for a beer, and the TA's would join them but we were only allowed to drink that non-alcoholic grape drink thing in a glass bottle. One night we all piled into my French teacher's van (no seats or seatbelt in the back!) and went to see Phantom of the Opera -- this was back when Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman were on stage. It was my first time at a real Western opera and, to this day, the "wow" is still firmly in memory.

I did have unpleasant experiences in school as well. Back in 11th grade I went out with 2 white girls, and the Chinese girls got pissed off ("what, we're not good enough for you anymore?"). You know how double standards work, if they were dating a white guy and I even muttered one complaint, they'd call me a racist and whatever they do for their happiness is good for them. LOL. I responded with a big fat middle finger, and so I only went to the winter formal in HS but missed out on the prom. Ironically, 20 years later, I'm now dating a Cantonese girl from my HS. @_@;;

The two white girls I went out with in my 11th grade were both redheads (-ish). I went to college with one of them but she was already dating someone else at the time. That girl did not shave before wearing a bikini. >_< In some ways I can relate to Charles Schulz (peanuts/snoopy) and his "Little Redhead Girl" character from his personal life. Regrettably I never had the chance to meet him before he passed away, but did meet his wife at SDCC later and gave her my condolences.

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