How To Find Yourself When You Feel Lost
Your early twenties are a HUGE transitional time. Between figuring out this “adulting” thing, building a career, maintaining a healthy romantic relationship, finishing school, keeping in touch with friends, and balancing whatever else life decides to throw at you- it is easy to look back and see that you have grown as a person, and you don’t know the first thing about who you are anymore.
Maybe you outgrew old interests, but you were too busy with life to find new ones that you are passionate about. Or you remember being the life of the party in high school, but life experience has caused you to take on a more reserved persona. Or, maybe you were in a relationship for so long that you completely forgot who you were outside of that relationship. Whatever the situation may be, getting to know yourself is crucial for happiness. There is so much preaching about self-love nowadays, but the first step in getting to love yourself is getting to know yourself!
When life gets messy, the first thing I do is check-in with myself and try to identify what is important to me, what makes me happy, and how I have grown. Exploring my interests and recognizing who I am at my core always helps me make decisions that are best for me. Here are some ways that I have self-explored and gotten to know the latest version of myself.
Spending Time Alone
As an introvert, spending time alone is critical for me to have time to recharge and feel good. But even if you are the most people-loving social butterfly out there, you need to spend time alone! Spending time alone allows you to reconnect with who you are at your core, without the influences of other people. These are some activities that I recommend doing alone to learn more about yourself!
Listen to music alone. Explore different types of music that aren’t popular, or that you haven’t listened to before. Really tune into how the music makes you feel, and if you like it, save it! Music can be a powerful form of self-expression and listening to music that makes you feel good (and discovering what type of music makes you feel that way) is a powerful form of self-discovery.
Travel alone. This may be out of your comfort zone but travelling alone is an amazing way to get to know yourself. I have been travelling alone for years, and I can honestly tell you that it has taught me more about myself than nearly anything else. When you are alone in a new place, you are 100% able to decide what YOU want to do there. When you are with other people, you are forced to take their wants and interests into consideration. But when you are alone, you get to do exactly what you want to do! And this means that you get to explore your personal interests and tastes. You are also able to gain confidence in yourself because you must rely on yourself for any mishaps that may occur while travelling.
Go for hikes alone. There is something about nature that is inherently therapeutic. Nature is simple. Nature is calming. Nature provides an opportunity to take those thoughts that are overwhelming in “real life” and deal with them with a clearer headspace. Some of my most profound self-discoveries have happened sitting on a blanket by a lake in the middle of nowhere. Do not underestimate the power of nature to remind yourself who you are!
Go to a used bookstore alone. If you don’t know your interests anymore, a bookstore is a great place to start! Go in with an open mind. Any section of books that seems to pull you in, let it. Pick up books with pretty covers and read the first few pages. See how you like it. Buy a few different books about different topics that are interesting to you. Don’t let yourself feel embarrassed about what is interesting to you- everyone is different, and you should own what makes you special!
Journaling has been a lifesaver for me! Let’s be real… sometimes life just sucks. And sometimes when life sucks, the people in your life don’t want to hear you complain about it for 16 hours a day. But the trusty journal is always there!
Besides being a judgement free place to vent, a journal can be a SUPER powerful tool in self-discovery. When I am feeling a little lost, I journal about everything that makes me happy. If I go out to an underground concert and really like the scene or music, I will journal about it. If I read a book and find it inciteful and helpful, I will journal about it. Journaling gives you the opportunity to reflect on yourself and your interests. It allows you to take a minute and think- Wow, I actually really enjoyed that. Reflecting on what you enjoy is a great way to get to know yourself!
Taking the Myers-Briggs Personality Test
The Myers-Briggs Personality Test is a personality test that is offered for free online on 16personalities.com. This test asks you a series of VERY personal questions, and then determines whether you are an Introvert or Extrovert (I or E), iNtuitive or Sensing (N or S), Feeling or Thinking (F or T), and Judging or Perceiving (J or P). Your personality type is the combination of these letters that best describe you. There are 16 personality types, and there is enough information online about each personality type to keep yourself VERY busy.
I have found that my Myers-Briggs Personality type has allowed me to understand myself in ways that nothing else has. In fact, I believe in the Myers-Briggs Personality test powers so strongly that I often ask people if they know their personality type within the first few days of knowing them! I truly believe the Myers-Briggs Personality Test is a great way to get to know yourself (and others) and remind yourself that you are not alone- there are other people out there who have very similar personality traits that you do!
*NOTE* Some of the questions in the Myers-Briggs Personality Test are EXTREMELY personal. It is important that you are 100% honest in your answers. Take this test ALONE. Do not have anyone peeking over your shoulders at your screen. Their presence may influence you to answer differently than you would if you were alone.
Reconnecting with My Roots
As much as you may have moved around and had new experiences, your roots shaped you into who you are today. The people you grew up with, the town you called home, the playground down the street from your parents’ house… all of that created a foundation that allowed you to become the person you are today. When you stray too far away from your roots, it is easy to feel like you have lost yourself. This is a lesson I have learned the hard way. Remind yourself of where you came from, who you are, and what has always been important to you. Do not be afraid to reach out to people you haven’t talked to in a few years- seriously. People get busy, but that does NOT mean that they wouldn’t love to have you back in their life.
Reading those Corny Self-Help Books
I’m not ashamed- I am a self-help book enthusiast! There are many books that have allowed me to gain a better understanding who I am, what I want in life, and who I want to be. These books exist because they help people, and there would not be as big of a market for them as there is if they didn’t work.
You can buy self-help books used at second-hand stores for very cheap, but if you are a little embarrassed about letting the cashier know you need a little self-help, buy them used off Amazon! (If you are looking for suggestions, my ALL TIME FAVORITE BOOK is Mindset by Carol Dweck. It is completely life changing and WILL inspire you to put in the work and chase your dreams.)
Volunteering at an Organization that Means Something to Me
This is one of the best things that I have ever done. I personally love farm animals, so I started volunteering at a local farm animal sanctuary. But you can volunteer for any number of organizations supporting any cause you can imagine! Go onto volunteermatch.com, enter your city and search for volunteer opportunities near you. There are so many opportunities out there to do good and support an organization that is important to you! And trust me, you will learn about yourself in the process.
Throughout the course of my life, these tips have pulled me out of some serious funks. I hope you find them helpful too! No matter what, remember that we are young, we have plenty of time to figure things out, and that everything will be okay. Take your time becoming who you want to be and building the life you want. There are no deadlines in life!