Raise your hand if you feel like you've ever lost yourself.
Yep, I'm certain a ton of digital hands went up. Like so many good things in life, it seems it's so much easier to lose something that makes you feel good than it is to re-find or manifest it.
To me, this can be a legitimate indicator of quality in life.
The term, "the best things are hard to come by," rings in my head as I sit and write this piece. However, I don't actively think it's equally possible for everyone to manifest their wants and dreams.
Everyone is different. Everyone finds peace in different things, and has an easier or harder time with their process.
I associate finding one's self with the process of grief, and believe that there are unique parallels to both experiences, that make them more similar than dissimilar.
When you grieve, for either a nonliving being or a living one, you experience a very DNA-like combination of emotions. Nothing you experience is up for replication, and even less understandable by anyone else in existence.
Similarly, finding who you are is a journey unique to your existence. So if it isn't all that easy, or makes little sense to you on how you can genuinely be at peace with yourself and your life, realize that this is a definite possibility.
This being the case, I can only sincerely speak on finding yourself by referencing my own experiencing in doing so. And although I wish I could say it was a simple process and one that required just a few changes in my mental state, I sadly cannot.
A DISCLAIMER: my literal description of how I found myself after being long-detached is seemingly simple and straightforward. The process? Not so much.
I can associate losing myself (this time at least) with the ending of my last relationship.
I had been in a relationship for about three years. We met in college and it was one of those intoxicating-at-first-meet types of loves.
I thought for so long that this relationship would be the one that would carry me into the rest of my life. That was, of course, one of the first problems.
Anyway, the relationship went on, and I loved her. But at some point, she wasn't sure she loved me. And another point, she thought that again, and again.
So many times throughout our relationship did my partner question her feelings of affection for me. Never quite sure if this was what love was for her.
It was devastating. I mean, you know and you're certain in your soul that this person is someone you'd do anything for. And they're saying it back, but, there's a but.
She did say to me that I was also the one. I was the person she wanted and could see herself spending her life with. We had talked so many times about the future and made moves.
While I knew deep in my subconscious that this wasn't a fair trade of feelings, I stuck by her, I wanted to. Desperately I just wanted it to work out.
Looking back, this was definitely a question of self-worth, and a lack of respect on her part.
I would have done just about anything for her, and for us. I was ready to move across the country for her, get married to keep her in The States (she is European), and anything else "making it work" would have required. The odds of an equal return? Slightly less, and by slightly I mean much less.
I deserved better but I wasn't demanding better. And when it came to an end I had invested so much of myself into the relationship and into her that I had forgotten all that time what it meant to invest in myself. So? I became lost.
So lost that I stopped sleeping, never ate, was trying to force myself to be okay when in reality I just wasn't.
I didn't know what it meant to be me.
After some substantial time had passed, I finally started the rebuild. Which, wasn't easy whatsoever.
When it came the time that I started to rediscover myself, I credited its success to one word: no.
I had gotten so used to doing everything my ex wanted, needed, or I had anticipated her needing that I became a "yes woman," always agreeing to everything external forces needed above my own.
Notice I don't say people there. I say "external forces" for a reason.
Aside from obviously doing things that everyone wanted me to do with no question, I also obliged emotional and situational needs with which my own beliefs didn't necessarily align.
I let unspoken urgings to compliment someone, when I didn't agree with the endearment take over and force my word. I went to parties I didn't want to and maintained mannerisms a certain way that others had.
I wasn't sad, to be honest, those days were some of the happiest of my life. But I wasn't fulfilled either, and it just genuinely became a part of my life to say yes, and agree to everything under the sun.
Thing is, when you say yes to everything, you soon get used to not making decisions, and decisions are the fundamentals of inner truth.
The words, "yes and no," and everything they embody is characteristically the basis of decision-making.
Yes-ing everything that everyone wants from you is a great way to actually not make decisions.
So after some time of crying, screaming, yelling, losing sleep and generally just feeling sorry for myself, I started to say no much more often.
If I didn't want to go somewhere, I said "no thank you" instead of obliging people with my presence.
If I felt overwhelmed, and went to push myself to take on another task, I said "no" and told myself I could return to it later.
At work, if someone asked something of me that I didn't have time for, that normally I'd "make" time for that I didn't actually have, I told them no and asked if it could wait.
I was open, both with myself, and with others around me about what I wanted to do, see, eat, spend my time and generally how I felt. It was really freaking hard.
It sounds easy on paper, but it takes so much mental will and patience to actually say no to something you're used to saying yes to at all times.
Over time, the process got easier. Eventually, I became incredibly clear about things I really wanted to pursue and things I really didn't. I started to shape opinions unique to myself, and people around me started to appreciate and respect me for them.
I learned, by teaching myself, how to have opinions and stand by them. I retaught myself how to become familiar with who I am, and I developed more self-worth than I had ever known.
If you're feeling lost, if you've felt that you've lost yourself at some point along the way in your life, start from nothing.
Start with no opinions, and let your soul and your heart tell you what you want. You'll know more than you think you do, all you have to do is follow through on it.