Finding Out Who You Are: a Personal Journey

Op-ed

Have you ever asked yourself: Who am I? Make no mistake, you’re not alone. Many young people have a hard time figuring out who they are. Identity crises and overthinking are some of the worst plagues of our society. How can you find yourself and go through a personal journey of your own?

The Search for Identity

In ancient times, a person’s identity was no subject of debate. Each of our ancestors could identify with a tribe, a nation, or a religion. By and large, no such questions would arise in their heads. If you were born a Roman, a Muslim, or an Aboriginal Australian, you were one until you died.

Only social outcasts and over-thinkers would doubt their identity. Today, more and more members of Generation Z can’t find their place in the world. This state of affairs is the inevitable outcome of our historical heritage. Cultural and social revolutions put us in this quite uncomfortable position.

A lonesome road

First came the Enlightenment. We gradually started to give up on religions for the sake of science and reason. Unfortunately, mathematical formulas and “On the Origin of Species” didn’t fill the hole of meaning. In the twentieth century, another institution tried to give us identity - nationality.

The fight between fascism, communism, and democracy turned out to be a bloody one. The terror of regimes, wars, and revolutions lasted up until the year 1989. Liberalism and the free market have become the primary set of values in the Western world.

Still, we can’t quite find ourselves. Nationality, religion, and society are not enough. Trying to find the truth isn’t easy. Nowadays, if you want to find your identity, you have to look within yourself. Individuality is the remedy to your existential crises.

How to Find Out Who You Are

Okay, individuality seems great, but how do you implement it in practice? Here are a few ways how you can look deep into yourself and find your own way.

Self-Analysis

Be it through meditation or just thinking — take a moment to reconsider your hitherto choices and plans for the future. On the internet, you’ll find more than a few personality tests. Such assessments may give you a clearer view of your most prominent traits of character and talents.

Of course, you don’t need an online test to do that. Without leaving your room, you can conduct a self-analysis on your own. Take a notebook and try to put your personality on paper. You can ask yourself some of the following questions:

  1. What are the identities I was given at birth? (nationality, religion, skin color)
  2. What are the identities I chose myself? (life philosophy, political agenda)
  3. What are my talents? What am I good at? Which activities am I passionate about?
  4. Who are the most important people to me?
  5. What do I want to achieve in my life?
  6. Who do I look up to?
  7. Which life events influenced me the most?
  8. What are the values I pursue in life?

Ask yourself these questions thoroughly and take your time. This self-analysis can tell you what you represent in life. Hopefully, thought-through answers may also show you where you’re heading.

Patrick meditating

Another great self-analysis “tool” is the SWOT analysis. Business people use it to assess the potential future of their enterprises. You can use this trick to find out who you are.

SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Taking it all down on paper can be really helpful in your personal journey. This analysis tool will give you a critical outlook on your prospective future.

Self-analysis is just one of the ways to find out who you are. What else can you do?

Books

Read, read, read… Every book you read broadens your perspective and gives you a slightly new outlook on life. But remember one thing - books aren’t equal.

There’s no doubt that Harry Potter, A Song of Ice and Fire (widely known as Game of Thrones), and comic books are a great source of entertainment. Stephen King novels will give you a shiver of emotions. They’re often great pieces of literary art. But let’s face it - they won’t contribute to your personal journey.

A hand stroking book covers

Philosophy, psychology, or all-time literary classics: they might not be as fun to read, but they convey knowledge. In the works of ancient philosophers and twentieth-century thinkers, you can find a brand-new outlook on reality and evergreen truths.

It wouldn’t be too controversial to claim that youth is a key time of your life. When you’re young, you shape your personality, get to know yourself, and find out who you really are. Books are tremendously strong allies in your personal journey.

Talking with Friends and Family

Keep in mind that you’re not alone. If you can’t figure out your identity on your own, don’t be afraid to reach out to the people around you. Your friends and family are there to lead you and give you advice.

There’s not a shadow of a doubt that the ones close to you know a fair share about you. For example, your parents may know some events from your early childhood. Such happenstances often have an impact on your personality, even though you don’t remember them yourself.

Winnie the Pooh Gif - Friends

Your friends, on the other hand, are likely going through similar problems. They’re your peers, with whom you share interests, hobbies, and values. Open up to them, let them listen to your doubts and concerns. If they’re real friends, they’ll do their best to help you out.

Acknowledge the feedback from friends and family, but remember that your decisions are only your decisions. It might happen that they don’t understand you, despite their best intentions. Try keeping a balance between your individual choices and external advice.

Finding Your Own Way

We could drag on about your personal journey for ages, but all in all - you have to figure it out yourself. Your identity crises at such a young age aren’t a rarity nowadays. Our historical heritage has put us in this position.

In fact, you might never be sure about yourself. There is no universal recipe for a good life. A life worth living is whatever you make of it. Trying to reach your destination and find yourself is a long process. It might just happen, that walking down this road is more important than obtaining the goal in itself.

Such things as conducting self-analysis, reading books, or talking to the people close to you will help you discover your true identity. Nonetheless, don’t rush. Give yourself time to find your own way and be persistent on your personal journey.

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Dawid Tysowski

A young writer interested in psychology, philosophy, and politics. Writing and jumping across Europe during my gap year.


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