Yes, you read that right. Type this into Google and most searches will yield results on how to avoid losing your identity—whether it is credit card fraud or maintaining autonomy in relationships. The identity I am referring to is the accumulation of qualities that we think define us. What happens when we willingly lose this identity, rather than trying to protect it? We find our true selves, not the external factors that we carefully pack into a tight little box with a bow and present to the world.
I’ve spent my entire life trying to define myself. You probably have too. I am Josalin—the college student, the teacher, the freelance writer. “I am the successful doctor, musician, lawyer, mother, yogi, CEO. I like this type of music and these kinds of clothes and these are the places I go.” Caught up in a search to define ourselves, we sometimes forget who we are at our core and become dependent on external representations to determine our self-worth. We become consumed in our roles, our jobs, and the physical objects we own. While all of these things can be rewarding and play a large part in our lives, they ultimately do not define us. By detaching from the need to create and keep an identity, we can truly find ourselves.
Here are 3 easy ways to shed your identity without losing yourself:
Travel. Switching up the scenery does a world of good for our well-being. It also gives us the opportunity to remove ourselves from the places, the pace of life, and the people that are familiar to us. In a new setting, we have no labels or preconceived notions to attach to our surroundings. We have nothing to rely on but our own judgments and experiences.
Limit your dependence on social circles. While maintaining a healthy social life is an important aspect of being human, balancing the values of the groups you associate with and your own can sometimes be a challenge. To be sure that your choices are in line with your own beliefs, branch out, form different networks and make new friends. If you don’t normally go to this side of town or to that bar or to that gym, go! Go, feel vulnerable, and don’t fit in.
Set some alone time. Being alone is a beautiful thing, especially when you have the time and the insight to enjoy it. By having time to ourselves to reflect on our goals and values, we can understand ourselves more fully than when we are caught up in the rat race or the fast-paced demands of society.
Not knowing who you are is a scary thought, but it is actually a blessing in disguise. It means you and your potential are limitless. You can be free to be yourself, without being bound to definitions or expectations. Your identity resides within you, regardless of who you appear to be to the world, and you are the only one who truly knows who this person is. Take the time to nurture the relationship you have with yourself, and watch the windows of clarity fly wide open.
- Written for Pravassa by Josalin Saffer