I think those who live a very intentional life know themselves very well. Without knowing yourself, you can’t make unwavering decisions in your best interest; you are always just taking the best guess. I have seen this in myself when it comes to deciding who I would be friends with, who I date, where I work, and how I spend my free time. The lack of uwavering self would also show up in how I would interact with other people, what standards I had for myself and others, and what I chose to speak up about.
As time has gone on, I’ve inevitably made plenty of mistakes. I’ve dated the wrong people, well into knowing they were no longer a good fit. I spent time and made friends with people who did not help me grow and mindlessly just did the things they were doing because I didn’t want to be home alone. Walking to the beat of your own drum can take courage, and this can be especially hard to do if you haven’t learned how to drum…
For me, it took many trials to figure out that I was not doing what was authentically me. This is not to say that we shouldn’t do things that we don’t want in order to get ahead; you still need to.
It wasn’t until I started to get really sick that I started losing myself. Literally, I was losing my mind. It spiraled out of control because I had made some esoteric plans for the future that I could no longer physically fulfill.
As I let the wave take me, I realized that sometimes you have to lose yourself to find yourself. And when you lose yourself, you realize you never has a good grasp on who you were to begin with.
I remember listening to a life coaching podcast about self esteem and she asked the listeners to image how they would feel about themselves if they lost everything they had. How would they feel about themselves if they lost their job, if they were not driving that fancy car, etc. She explained that unwavering self esteem is not about those “things”. Good self esteem came from knowing your sense of worth just as a living human being. It is a detachment from those “things” that give you a particular self idealized identity. Your sense of self worth should be something that’s completely innate.
But then again, it is hard to have this sort of innate sense of self worth when we are conditioned with the opposite message throughout our lives. During our childhood we are bombarded by ads and we have this intuitive sense to try and fit in. We get embarrassed just by bringing a different lunch than the majority of our classmates or that we bring our food in a reused Cool Whip container. This then perpetuates to the toys and things we have, the backpack brands we use, to the clothes we wear to school. Although we don’t think of it this way, everything becomes a competition of proving our worth to others by how we present ourselves. We think we are young and naive and that we will grow out of it, but we never do. This is why we have sayings like “Keeping up with the Jones’s”. Does the car you drive and the neighborhood you live in really sum up who you really are?
When You Start To Lose Yourself
As I started to lose everything, what I heard on that podcast all started to make some sense. One of the things we all take for granted is our physical bodies. I didn’t necessarily lose my physical assets, but I lost my ability to control and depend on my own body, which at the time made me lose my ability to work, maintain all the relationships I had, and even being able to physically take care of myself. Overall, I started to lose my independence. I was not able to make my own money, pay for my bills, or even cook and take a shower without causing myself to fell even more ill. I stopped driving and spent a majority of my days in bed or housebound. At 27, I moved back in with my parents, who would take care of me financially and physically (taking care of meals, laundry, etc.).
With the loss of my independence, I felt I had completely lost myself. Weeks at a time I was confined to a house and I had lost the identity I once attached to. I no longer worked at “this” great titled job. I wasn’t traveling or meeting friends in the city to do photography. I stopped going to the gym daily, and I wasn’t able to be visit with friends. It was like I started to become invisible.
I fought the pain of losing myself until I noticed I was just creating more suffering. It wasn’t until after I was stripped of an identity, that I started to realize that sometimes you have to lose yourself to find yourself. Who was I now? Despite my lifestyle adjustments, who did I want to be? Amidst the loss, I knew I wanted to rebuild an intentional sense of self.
If it wasn’t for the loss in my health, I don’t know if I would have been able to see life from a different point of view. It’s through those hardships, that you really start to realize how precious life is.
From there I started to find more of myself. Life is too short not to be your authentic self. Nobody has time to make money to impress people you don’t like. It is great to achieve, but most certainly is it best to achieve goals that you set for yourself. No longer did I want to spend my time doing things because I had to meet expectations of others to feel good about myself or meet the our cultural standards. When you hit rock bottom, you start to see that you need to be more conscious in the way that you live in order to live a fulfilled life.
So that is what I have started to do. Through illness, I have experienced grief, in the loss of my old self and dreams, but I have gained a fresh perspective on how I want to live the rest of my life. Hardships make us ask the hard questions, but the answers are easy. Start living consciously and be authentic to yourself. Use your experiences as was to define your values and stick to them. You only live one life and thankfully I have started to find who I really am through the process.
Did you find any of these “Sometimes You Have To Lose Yourself To Find Yourself” helpful? Share your experience below.
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