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friend encouragement advice

I'm looking for help encouraging a friend, and trying to find something to say besides the usual clich?s that will actually sink in

We've been really close friends since we were little kids, and she honestly has to be one of the smartest people I know.  Huge potential.  One of those people who could do just about anything, and not just do it well but do it amazingly.

She's absolutely paralyzed by self-doubt.  She's afraid to go to college or move forward with her life, because she's worried that she'll pick a vocation and end up hating it.  She thought she knew what she wanted to do, but second-guessed herself so much that she's not sure anymore.

I've trying to be encouraging in the best ways I can figure out how.  She measures herself against me, so I've told her that there have definitely been times where I've doubted myself, and shared personal anecdotes and ways that I've gotten through it.  I've even offered to help her study for SAT/ACTs so she can apply to college, but she's still hanging back.  

 I really want to help her, but I don't feel like I'm getting through.  Is there a better way to be encouraging?  And I hate to say this but, is there a point when I have to give up?

In support of Stacey081184.

Re: friend encouragement advice

  • I would encourage her to seek counseling.  Being that paralyzed by fear is not healthy or normal, and she needs professional help.  She may even end up needing anxiety medication.
  • I think there is a point where the kindest thing a person can do is admit that a friend's problem is bigger than they can help solve. ?If she can't conquer her fear after some gentle encouragement, with supportive friends, and with the desire to conquer it, she needs more help than even a best friend can give. ?I agree with encouraging her to seek counseling to help her with her fears- a simple, "I love you and know you can get past this, but this is more than I know how to help you with. ?Why don't you look into seeing a counselor who has more experience with this?" is fine.

    Other thought- is it possible that she likes the way her life is right now and just feels guilty she's not using all of her "potential"? It's possible that she enjoys whatever job/ lifestyle she has now, and is really worried that picking a "career" will take that away. ??

  • Is this her problem or your problem? Do you want better for her and you keep telling her that? Sometimes our goals and our friends goals are two different thing. I completely agree with Mrs.Ginger that if it is anxiety she has a problem with refer her to get counseling. You should tell your friend she is not you and that she should not judge her life by the choices you make.

  • Did she grow up in an environment where failure was unacceptable, and perfection was supposed to be the norm?  I did, and if she did, that's probably a big part of her problem.

    I was an oops baby so all of my brother's were much older than me.  I can remember one of them looking at me and saying, "Kelley, it's only life.  If you pick a job/car/vocation/college/etc that doesn't work out, it's not the end of the world.  Just start over and go for something else.  It's only life."

    THAT was a profound moment for me.  One of those times when someone says something to you that goes to the middle of your heart and stays there.  It is so's only life.

    I think some counseling would be a good idea.  She needs to learn to lighten up on herself, redefine what she thinks perfection and failure are, and enjoy her life.  My 48 years and had tons of ups and downs, and stupid decisons - but so far it's been a pretty good life and I'm a happy camper.  It's only life.........anything is fixable.

  • SHe needs counseling. Insecurities and fear kept me in & out colleges for 9 years with no degree but with bunch of college credits. I switch my degre so many times but never completing one.

    It took me a long time to gain self confidence  and finished college.

  • Counseling will really help. She is a perfefctionist, which is a form of controlling behavior. Maybe other psychological problems mixed in as well.

    I would tell her how much you love her and hate to see her struggling and would like to see her happier in her life.  Give her the name of a great counselor in your area and suggest she might want to give them a call.


  • I am just like kenk500 but not yet finished.  I feel like your friend does.  What if I spend all this money on school then I am not good enough to do the job or can't get a job..So I work for an accounting department instead of being in the accounting department.
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