Compulsive daydreaming made me a total failure

Friday 4 September 2015, 12.01am HKT

Letters to the Editor


Question of the week goes to a girl whose daydreaming has taken over her real life:—

chick 2013 0305 DSC02343I’m not even a teenager. I’m a 22-year-old girl. I daydream ALL THE TIME and I cannot stop.

I failed my final accountancy exams entirely for this reason. I cannot take coaching classes because I simply cannot pay attention in class even for a minute. I could have easily passed it but I just couldn’t focus or concentrate, no matter how hard I tried. I have no control at all over my daydreaming.

Despite that, my exam scores weren’t horrible. Everyone always told me I was so extraordinarily intelligent. The chartered accountant I trained under thought the exams were a small thing, considering my abilities. My parents believed I would easily make it through. These things depress me more and more. I know I could have done it so easily, yet I couldn’t because of this SHITTY disorder. I feel like an absolute failure at this point in my life.

I kept blaming myself and told myself I didn’t have a real problem but just being an unmotivated piece of shit who didn’t want to study. I told myself I won’t let all those thoughts cross my mind. Who was I kidding? Here I am, wanting nothing more than passing these exams, and STILL giving in (again), leading myself towards failure (again). And I’m not even talking about other aspects of my life affected by this (social life, day-to-day activities because of forgetfulness and whatnot).

What do I daydream about? Not about myself but my elaborate fantasies could compare to movies or books, consisting of characters I invented with some characteristics derived from fictional books and movie characters but they are different. I plan out their lives in my head and imagine what they are doing.

It’s become like a drug now. It also makes me forget about my miserable life and situation right now. I live and feel all emotions through the fantasy characters. It’s an ADDICTION. I have cursed myself so much, and my level of self-hatred right now cannot be described. I don’t think this has a cure. What the [expletive] do I do? — Nonstop, 31 July 2015

(Original edited for length and clarity)


tnl listen2The Naked Listener writes…

You have to find some way of repurposing your daydreaming into some kind of adventure.

Since you’re an unstoppable daydreamer, you should have plenty of experience in the mental adventures department. So this shouldn’t be too hard for you to get moving on the repurposing. The fact that you are asking this question already means you’re capable of repositioning yourself.

Adventure is moving into the unknown — a situation that you aren’t quite sure how to deal with. Your options are either to choose that moving, or your environment or circumstances force you into moving. Much better that you choose.

By moving into ‘the unknown,’ you are resetting (and therefore risking) your perceptions, beliefs, relationships and connections with those around you and with yourself.

In your case, real life is your unknown. For want of a better description, you try to daydream yourself living in reality, adapting to reality, doing real things that 101 other real-life real human beings do.

In a sense, this is an adaptation in thinking and mentalising. The ability to adapt to ‘the unknown’ is a measure of your confidence. To that extent then, the more things you try, the more confidence you gain. Your adventure is daring to cross over to think about things you didn’t like to think about before. In other words, it’s an adventure to test yourself against yourself.

sig tnl autograf


Thanks but that is for the long term. Is there an instant cure? I’m gonna end up failing my exams again, which I can’t afford to.

No shortcut, I’m afraid. Daydreaming is a long-term condition you’ve trained yourself into, so quick fixes are just a daydream. Sorry about that. I do sympathise.

Right. I’ve been doing this ever since I was a kid. I always thought that it’ll stop when I’m older and more mature. Even now, I tell myself ‘there’s no way I would still be stupid enough to imagine all of this at 25 or something.’ But I realise that’s not true. The stuff I imagine changes and ‘evolves’ but it never stops. It has gotten much worse over the years. I’m at my worst right now. There cannot be an instant cure. Right. Feels like it’ll be the end of me.

Instead of being that realistic, imagine that it will not be the end of you. Imagine the possible ways that you overcome it. Reverse daydreaming. Try that.


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Images: Dreaming via Our American Generation | All other images by the author.

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2 Responses to “Compulsive daydreaming made me a total failure”

  1. Ed Hurst said

    Sounds like a fiction writer to me. That may not be a realistic option, but my fiction comes from persistent daydreams that get in the way of other things.

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.

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