Today, I want to write about an experience I’m going through – that of being lost in who I am. I don’t have any answers, or suggestions or top tips to finding you again. Instead, I want to share the journey because I know that you might resonate with it too. If not right now, then probably in the past and no doubt it will rear its head at some time in the future.
Right now, I feel lost. Obviously I know where I am. I’m sitting at my dining room table with a coffee typing this. But I feel, smack bang in my solar plexus, a deep sense of uncertainty as to who I am.
I have felt it for some time. I knew, deep down, that what I had been focusing on wasn’t quite right for me. It brought me a lot of enjoyment. I loved writing about it. I loved talking about it. I loved creating things for it. But it wasn’t quite right for me. And I didn’t want to admit it.
Yet here I am, admitting it quite publicly. And I’m doing so because I know I’m not alone.
How many of us push this feeling down and hope it will go away? Suppress it because we have already defined ourselves in the past. We’ve spent years and years learning, doing, being and investing time and money to be who we were.
And then finally the feeling that we’ve pushed down, didn’t admit – didn’t want to admit – it comes to the surface. It wants to and needs to be acknowledged.
You aren’t that person anymore.
And after much denial, much anguish – finally you accept it. You aren’t that person anymore.
But who are you?
Eckhardt Tolle, the author of The Power of Now, talks about the loss of self to be an essential ingredient in most kinds of suffering. He asserts that what feels like a loss of our identity is actually the crumbling of an image of who we held ourselves to be in our minds. He describes that as mental fiction.
Which is good news, really. Because when who you think you are dissolves, you can start to explore who you really are. It’s a way to open and awaken new possibilities of who you are.
I will admit that I find this part equally exciting and daunting.
In the past, when I was in my twenties and single, whenever I would feel like this I had one answer. I would quit my job, put my stuff in storage and go overseas to ‘find myself’. I don’t know if I ever did find myself but I had some truly amazing adventures and found love.
Now, married (to the beloved I found in my travels) with a mortgage and a child, as tempting as escaping overseas is, it’s not my reality. I have to face this head on, here, where I am.
Also in the past, I’d talk about it with everyone. Hope that someone else had an idea of who I was and what I should do. Now, I know I need to figure this out myself, using my feelings as a guidance system.
As I mentioned in the beginning in the article, I don’t have the answers but I can share a little about what I have been doing to find myself again.
Firstly, I have given myself space. There are a million things I should be doing. But I have chosen a few things that I want to do and let the other things go. (And guess what, orders are still coming in, opportunities are still happening – without me even being there.)
In this freed-up space I am doing things that bring me great joy – especially the things that I feel guilt about ordinarily because they take up time away from work or the family. Things like spending an entire day and night devouring a great novel. Or watching an independent foreign film – just for me.
I have also taken off and spent time in nature. Alone or with the family. Sometimes it’s just for the enjoyment of being there. Other times I jot down ideas or thoughts about my passions.
Finding underlying themes
Secondly, I know that who we are constantly evolves. Where in the past I have rejected outright what I was doing and moved onto something completely different, I know that it doesn’t need to be so drastic. That I can evolve and pivot. I also know that because of everything I have done in my past, I stand on a mountain of value.
So in figuring out me, as I am now, I can draw upon elements of all the different me’s of the past.
I also understand that there is a thread that runs through all the different things I’ve ever done – connecting them with underlying themes.
And it is in those themes that I believe lies the answer. When I reflect on the different passions or themes that weave through the different versions of my past me, I can see that for the most part they still apply today. So my passions and values don’t need to pivot. I just need to express them in the way that meets me right now.
Keeping it to myself
Thirdly, I’m keeping ‘me’ to myself for the time being. In the past I felt I needed validation. I needed other people to say, ‘Yes, you can be or do that.’ For now, I just need me and my higher self to feel comfortable. I am using my own feelings as the guidance system. As I try out new ideas, I listen to the feeling in my gut. Do I feel inspiration? Does the idea linger a while and keep coming back to me, or does it move on swiftly? All of those things are helping me send down roots and find stability in the idea of the now me.
I have still a bit of work to do, but I’m getting there. I’m finding ways to uncover me. Because standing authentically in our own shoes is truly our only responsibility in life. And when we admit that who we are isn’t serving us and when we make moves to stand true to ourselves, while it throws everything upside down in chaos for a little while, when the dust settles it uplifts everyone and everything around us.
Have you been lost and then found? We’d love to hear about your experiences. And in the meantime, I’d like to leave you with a quote I read yesterday by Bob Proctor:
“If I want to be free, I have to be me.”