What does it mean to “find yourself”? Does it mean to find your purpose? To connect with other people? To find your voice? Trying to find yourself can bring about so many questions that it seems impossible to address the problem head-on. When wondering how to find yourself, so many people rush to a solution before they even know what they’re looking for, which sets them up for failure. In order to find yourself, you have to know what that means for you.
The mission to find yourself is one that every person faces, and that nearly every person struggles with. Most people rush to find themselves when it already feels too late because life has already found a rhythm that would be dangerous to disrupt- who has time to “find themselves” when bills need to get paid? When degrees have to get earned? When children need parents?
Not all of us have the capacity to dedicate effort to finding themselves, but when these barriers get in the way of finding yourself, priorities in life can become skewed.
When someone finds achievement in only one area of their life, and that area no longer fulfills them, they have nothing to draw purpose from. In order to feel whole and that you know yourself, you have to find a balance in where you find fulfillment. You should draw fulfillment intentionally. This means building meaningful relationships and devoting your time to projects that align with your values. Finding yourself means placing yourself in a community and knowing your purpose.
Americans live in an individualist society driven by occupational success. These values lead to a need for complete independence, which often turns into peoples’ life purpose. We’re told that we can find purpose in our careers, but where do we go once we’ve got a career and we’re financially independent? If you’ve neglected your personal relationships to find occupational success, then part of yourself and your purpose is being neglected. When one’s life depends on finding financial independence, emotional dependence suffers. Finding a community and people to connect with can bring purpose, love, and passion to your life, and can teach you mutual love and healthy dependency.
After you’ve found people that bring meaning to your life, you can find an individual purpose. Through support from loved ones, drawing upon all of your resources, and giving yourself space to find your purpose, you will have what you need to learn more about yourself. You’ll find confidence and voice. Of all the changes you make in your life to find yourself, what is most important is that you give yourself the resources and help you need. This is why having a community is important- because drawing upon others’ wisdom can catalyze this process.
No matter what stage you are in your life, personal improvement and exploration is never over. We are journeys, developments, stories- the answers to our lives’ questions may change, meaning your identity and self-expression will, too. Give yourself the time to answer these questions, and those changes will become less daunting.