I don’t know what I’m good at

I’m quite upset because I don’t know what I’m good at. At school, I never get good results despite studying hard. I don’t have any friends even though I try to be friendly with everyone. All the others have something they are good at and enjoy doing, but not me. I feel confused and lonely.
Vivek (14)

Dear Vivek,

You seem quite dejected that despite trying hard, you don’t know what you’re good at, and don’t get good results or have any friends.

Be a bit patient with yourself. This is the age of changes and uncertainty. A good way to approach it would be to say, ‘Things aren’t working, so this is an opportunity to make changes!’ Reframe your problem from ‘I’m not good at…’ to ‘I want to know what I am good at; I want better results; I want good friends.’ Focus on attitude + knowledge + skill building. Commit to what you do, and don’t give up. Even those who know their talents require coaching/training (knowledge), lots of practice (skill building) and discipline (attitude). Interest à Learning (Knowledge + Skill) à Enjoyment à Greater interest… This is a cycle.

For anything that you want to do/learn, if you focus on ‘how’ to do it and enjoy participating in the process of doing it, the results will come. We often focus on results, and lose the joy of participation. If you enjoy learning the guitar and put in the effort, you will become better at it quickly. Similarly for studies — setting study goals, studying in 25-minute slots daily, using study skills, and practising through papers will lead to better results.

This applies to friendships, too. Use skills of listening and empathy, express interest in others, share your interests and build personal connections in addition to being ‘pleasant’.

Success is dedication to learn something despite challenges. Try it and you will go far!

Nasreen Hashambhoy is a Counsellor, Life Coach and a Facilitator of training programmes for schools and corporates. Through a combination of coaching, counselling and facilitation techniques based on cognitive science and positive psychology, she helps clients achieve their true potential. She is the author of the series Values In Action published by Better Yourself Books.

Nasreen Hashambhoy

Nasreen Hashambhoy is a Counsellor, Life Coach and a Facilitator of training programmes for schools and corporates. Through a combination of coaching, counselling and facilitation techniques based on cognitive science and positive psychology, she helps clients achieve their true potential. She is the author of the series Values In Action published by Better Yourself Books.