“I don’t know who I am anymore. I feel lost. I don’t recognize myself anymore, and I’ve lost all hope that it will get better.”
If you’ve been feeling like this lately, know that you are not alone. The loss of identity and losing your sense of purpose is something that has, in a way, become contagious. There are many people suffering from this phenomenon, and every individual experiences it differently.
Some people are able to function on a daily basis because it’s not that severe, whereas some people are simply unable to deal with the most trivial tasks because the feeling of not being in touch with themselves is literally draining and killing them.
Is It Normal To Not Know Who You Are?
Worry not. It’s perfectly normal to not know who you are because our identities are constantly changing. So, at times you may not know for sure who you are.
The truth is that every single one of us faces different struggles throughout our life and self-identifying is one of them. We could say that this is an ongoing struggle that sometimes becomes draining and influences the quality of our life.
When that happens, we become obsessed with finding ways to reconnect with our true selves, which is perfectly normal. Sometimes we feel like a stranger in our own body but this feeling won’t last forever.
It is just a part of our journey called Life and its process of increasing self-awareness, self-love, and self-worth.
“To find yourself, you must first lose yourself.” – Jared Leto
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Mahatma Gandhi
To find yourself means to lose yourself. To help others means to help yourself and that’s what makes life easier.
It’s normal to not know who you are. This means that you’re changing and changing means evolving.
What Does It Mean When You Don’t Know Who You Are Anymore?
When you don’t know who you are anymore, it basically means that you’ve lost touch with yourself and the things that are important to you.
It’s the feeling of constantly going around in circles while looking for that one thing that will give you a sense of purpose and belonging.
It means behaving in a way that you think you should or in a way that others want you to instead of being yourself and following your heart.
Being yourself means following your passions because that’s the essence of living a fulfilling life and increasing your self-awareness.
I remember I was repeating this sentence every single day during high school: I don’t know who I am anymore. I had a hard time connecting with my true self and finding my purpose because I was drastically changing both mentally and physically.
At that time, I had tons of unanswered questions and one of them was: Wait, why do I feel like I don’t know who I am?
Now, you’re probably thinking the same. You’re thinking about the possible reasons for this phenomenon. And to be frank, there are multiple reasons starting from your childhood.
I Don’t Know Who I Am Anymore: 4 Possible Reasons Why You Feel This Way
Growing up in an unhealthy environment
The opportunity to grow up in a healthy environment is of utmost importance for every child. Now, what does a healthy environment mean? It means that the child is given freedom to express himself and decide for himself.
It means being loved by his family members, accepted, and not abused emotionally, let alone physically. And when parents are acting overly protective toward their children, they are unintentionally destroying their children’s potential to establish their own identity.
See also: 6 Mistakes Overprotective Parents Make Unintentionally
Think of it this way. If you’re constantly deciding what your child is supposed to do, your child will be unable to decide what’s good for himself in the future.
And that is when the loss of identity and low self-esteem begins to be conceived which can lead to mental health disorders.
If you feel like you’ve never had an opportunity to choose during your childhood, this might be the reason why you feel like you no longer know who you are.
It is because you’ve never been able to get to know yourself in the first place. Life experiences shape our personality traits.
Losing yourself in a busy lifestyle
Crowded streets, hurrying to work, hurrying back home to serve dinner to your family, worrying about your deadlines, worrying whether you’re wearing the right outfit, worrying whether you’ll be able to pay rent, and so on.
A busy lifestyle (along with social media) is the main culprit for almost 90% of mental illness and emotional adversities.
When you have a lot of things to do and you’re constantly stressing yourself about everything, you create problems and barriers in your head, and you become a problem to yourself.
Your daily routine becomes unbearable.
Then you start to think: I don’t know who I am anymore. I don’t know how I feel anymore. And do you know why it is so? It’s because you no longer see yourself as a human being due to all of these things which are dominating you and forcing you to dance to their own music.
You no longer spend quality time with your best friends and loved ones because you simply don’t have time for that. Slowly but surely you become detached from your true self and that’s when you start panicking.
Losing yourself in the pursuit of things that are draining you
If you’re constantly occupied with negative thinking like: “What will happen next?”, you will be unable to enjoy the present and live the carefree life that you deserve.
Being overly pessimistic about things is another reason for feeling lost and not knowing what you did wrong to come to this. Always think positively no matter the circumstances.
- Remember that you are not your job.
- You are not your past mistakes.
- You are not your insecurities.
They don’t own you. They are all part of you because you chose it so. You are the one who defines yourself.
Bad things don’t define your identity. Only your thoughts and actions define who you are, and if you don’t recognize yourself anymore, it means you weren’t being fair to yourself.
You were too harsh to yourself, and you neglected your body and mind’s desire to express themselves and do what makes you happy. You neglected the importance of emotional self-care.
It means that you haven’t been yourself for a long time because you were too busy chasing other things that have killed your inner self. And now is the time to fix this.
Being a people pleaser
One of the easiest ways to lose yourself is by trying to please everyone. By going out of your way to make other people happy and to win their approval you’re slowly but surely losing yourself.
Worrying too much about what others will think of you is another surefire way to lose yourself. Keep in mind that there are some things you cannot influence and one of those things is other people’s opinion.
People will always think but that doesn’t mean that you should always worry about that. You need to focus on things that you want to do for yourself and not because of someone else. That is the only way to find yourself again.
This time, choose to please yourself instead of others because you deserve it and you know it, too.
How Can I Be Myself When I Don’t Know Who I Am?
When you feel like you don’t know who you are anymore, the first step to reconnecting with yourself is getting to know yourself again. In order to be yourself again, you need to listen to your mind and body.
Yes, an identity crisis called I don’t know who I am anymore can be, in a way, “cured”. The following tips will help you find yourself again and increase your self-awareness.
7 Ways To Reconnect With Your True Self
Get to know yourself (again)
Pay attention to the things that you used to enjoy, and write them on a sheet of paper if needed. As you’re imagining them, absorb the feeling you get. Do you feel happy and content about it? Does it make you feel utterly better about yourself?
It probably does because that’s who you really are. Your preferences are a part of your being, and you should never neglect them because you’re too busy with other things. Your well-being and self-care should always be a priority.
If you’ve always enjoyed playing volleyball, get up, call your friends, and start making plans to play again.
Yet, if you’ve never been interested in any particular activity, start trying everything, and, believe me, you’ll know when you’ve found something worth spending your time on.
The goal here is to find that little spark and ignite the fire that will revive your sense of identity. And this will take time, but believe me, you’ll succeed.
Listen to your mind and body
You need to be in touch with your feelings and understand what your body is trying to tell you. This will help you target all your likes and dislikes.
Your mind and body are your best friends when it comes to your interests and thoughts. Once you start playing volleyball, pay attention to how you feel during that activity.
Apply this method to any other activity. Do certain activities make you feel happy or rather tense? Do you enjoy movie nights more than clubbing? Do you enjoy long walks more than movie nights?
These are the questions you need to ask yourself. Your feelings and reactions to different activities will help you develop a deeper connection with both your mind and body.
That’s how you’ll reconnect with your true self again.
Be aware of negative thinking
Do you often have negative thoughts? Do you have difficulties expressing gratitude for both little and big things in life?
Negative thinking equals unhappiness and dissatisfaction with the current lifestyle. Having mostly negative thoughts means that something needs to be changed.
You need to redirect your thoughts by focusing on the positive things that happened and are happening to you at the moment. You need to make an effort to express gratitude for everything you have instead of worrying about the things that you don’t.
Keep in mind that everything in life is a process. Just because you haven’t achieved some things so far, this doesn’t mean that you won’t in the near future.
Remind yourself that it’s okay to make mistakes sometimes. Understand that you have your own unique pace and there’s no need to compete with anyone.
Replace negative thinking with courage and belief that everything happens for a reason and that in the end, everything will be exactly as it should.
The decision-making process is closely related to your identity because expressing your wishes and desires is something that carves your identity and mainly self-confidence.
And if you’ve always been ashamed of letting people know what you really want and what you really like, the chances are that you’ve suffocated yourself in order to appease others.
The sentence I don’t know who I am anymore should not prevent you from making decisions.
Let your opinion be heard on every single topic and discussion. Make a decision that from now on, you’ll begin making decisions, and you won’t stop until it becomes your second nature.
Decide to read that self-improvement book you’ve been thinking about for some time now. When you’re in a shopping mall, decide that you’ll buy that T-shirt even though it looks like something no one would ever buy. But, who gives a shit?
You don’t care if others will like it. The most important thing is that you like it, and you’ll be the one who’ll wear it without the fear of being judged for it.
Start making decisions, from the small to the big ones, and soon you’ll discover your inner self. Be happy for who you really are, and appreciate your flaws because that’s the key ingredient when it comes to restoring your sense of self.
Identify your core values
Are you a people pleaser? Do you often go out of your way to do things for others only for the sake of being accepted and praised by them?
Perhaps that’s the main reason why you feel like you don’t know who you are anymore in the first place. Don’t worry, you can fix that.
It’s time for you to identify your core values instead of living up to other people’s expectations. Sometimes, you spend so much time living up to someone else’s standards that you start thinking you have the same core beliefs as them.
You do that because you want them to love you. You think by achieving that you will finally feel complete but that doesn’t happen. Instead, you feel even more lost than you initially were.
It’s time to change that:
- Write down your core values.
- Think about the people you most admire.
- Consider your experiences.
Here are some core values to start with:
Live in the moment
Take a deep breath. Feel the air fill your lungs and slowly exhale. Be present. Focus on your breathing and then look around you.
Are you satisfied with the life you’re living right now? Are there some things that you want to change? If you could be doing anything right now, what would it be?
Be honest with yourself and your abilities. Focus on the things you can influence and most importantly, don’t worry about the past and things you cannot change.
Instead, live in the moment. Take a deep breath again. Feel the air fill your lungs and slowly exhale.
Know that happiness is right there in front of you. All you need to do is start living and stop overthinking.
When you’ve finally discovered your preferences, now you need to stay engaged by doing things you like. It means you need to make this a part of your routine because it’s the only way to find true happiness.
Creating a routine where you do things that make your heart beat faster and make you feel like you’ve found your purpose means shaping your identity. When you repeat actions that make you happy over and over again, you’re creating happiness.
Staying engaged also means staying in touch with yourself and your inner fears. Never neglect them because they will come back to you and create enormous consequences when you least expect it.
Always face your fears because they are also a part of who you are, and they should be treated that way. Love all of your sides, positive and less positive, because if you don’t, nobody else will.
Don’t let the sentence I don’t know who I am anymore define you or make you overthink. You are so much more than that.
You’re the one who’s in charge of your own happiness, and nothing and no one has anything to do with it.
Agreeing with others will never define you. Neither will having the best job in the world. It is something that you do, not who you are. And knowing who you are makes you who you really are.