When you ask Google “how to find yourself,” notice how before you can even get the last word into the search bar, you’re met with how to find your ring size or your GPA. So often, we get caught up into the swirling, materialistic course of life. We follow itineraries and expectations so closely that we forget about the body that has to endure the stress that is placed upon it. Then—when we’re least expecting it—life winds up and knocks us out in one punch. We lose sight of ourselves and our goals and before we know it, we’re on the bathroom floor sobbing.
Being lost comes in waves and severities. Maybe your Tinder date didn’t show, you failed your Physics exam, and it just feels like the universe has something against you. Or maybe your relationship of five years turned abusive, you lost your job, and you can’t even fathom getting out of bed to go to your one class of the day. Regardless of how many metaphorical punches life throws, being lost is legitimate and essential.
Wait, essential? It’s essential to suffer panic attacks and try to survive off of four hours of sleep per night for a week? Yeah, it is. Because when you trip and fall, you tie your shoes. You stand up, and you bare a kick-ass scar for the rest of your life that reminds you of how much you overcame. Then the next time life draws back, you will be cognizant and ready to find yourself.
Finding yourself is not easy. It demands commitment and self-appreciation. It requires that you finally get headspace and put yourself above everyone else. You have to remind yourself daily that toxic relationships—with friends, family, or partners—exist and that it is your decision to fix them or leave them. Your health has to come first. You have to be selfish.
More importantly, finding yourself requires you to be by yourself. No, physical isolation is not required—but mental isolation is. We all have an entourage of people who are “just trying to help,” or are “just giving their two-cents.” Tell them to keep the change. It is so easy to distract yourself from your stresses by pretending they don’t exist. They do exist, and they likely involve someone else’s emotions. Avoiding your stresses only allows them to get stronger on their own and attack you when you thought they had ceased to exist. Focusing on what will provide you the most efficient means of reaching your goals without the subtle-but-apparent influence of others is the only true way to free yourself from your afflictions.
Most importantly, finding yourself is achievable. It is possible to take a step back, regain control of your world, and rebuild. It starts with identification and drive and ends with self-awareness and freedom. It requires searching without a map, but the forest clears—and when you find your way out, you will be unimpeded.