So a lot of my close friends know that I am currently going through an identity crisis. It is said by Erik Erikson (who clearly had experienced identity issues with a name like that…) that between the age of 13 and 19 we begin asking who we are, what we are capable of and what we are supposed to do. If you’re dealing with trauma during those developmental years, which a lot of us are, developing an identity is trumped by staying alive. So what happens when you get to the age of 23 and don’t know who you are?
How did I get here?
So here we are – I woke up one morning and realised that I had no idea who I was, what made me happy, what my passion was, what I valued. I attended a resilience seminar with some colleagues and it was only when we were asked to write down what made us happy and I found myself copying answers that I realised I was in serious trouble. Who doesn’t even know what makes them happy without being spoon fed answers?
I spent days stressing to the point of being physically ill. I have worked in the same job for five years, I have spent 18 months studying something I forced myself to enjoy, I have loved the same people for as long as I could remember – but was this even who I was? I realised that my ‘personality’ was a concoction of traits I had implemented because at the time they were keeping me safe and getting me what I wanted. I am funny, because it protected the bits of me I hated. I am smart, because I couldn’t be athletic or pretty. I am a good friend, because I had to keep my people around for fear of rejection. I am a bitch to people I don’t know, because it makes me memorable. But are any of those things actually me?
I had an appointment with my psychologist a few weeks after this existential crisis and unpacked every thought I had been ruminating over. And do you know what she told me? That it was normal. It was expected that I, and nearly every other twenty-something, would have this moment of ‘holy shit!’.
Why didn’t I know that already? Why hadn’t anyone told me? If I had known that this was normal I probably wouldn’t have reacted the way I did. Why do we to tell pre-adolescent kids that they’re about to go through a lot of physical changes, but it’s not commonplace to tell young adults they will deal with a whole lot of questions and self doubt at this super important part of life. At this life stage when we are all trying to pave the path to the adult we will eventually be. As usual, awareness, treatment and understanding of physical conditions takes precedence over what goes on with our minds. That is just not good enough and we all know it.
What happens next? You take the first exciting step into a world of self awareness. I am starting my journey as we speak and I will be keeping you all updated on how I go. At the moment it is as simple as trying new things and seeing how they feel. Reading has taken a more prominent role, as well as spending time in my garden and pouring my passion into this blog. I have been taking risks and putting myself first – honestly this time. The question of whether I want to devote my time to something or whether I feel obliged to has been asked a lot more.
I am in the process of creating a bit of a workbook to guide me through this journey – questions to help me figure out what my soul has been trying to tell me for the past 23 years, and activities to implement what I learn. If it works, I hope to be able to share it with you all! For now though, if you’re on the same journey let me know! We are in it together.
Three weeks ago I was so scared, but today I am excited. I am not having an identity crisis; I am having an identity development. What I am going through is normal, and lots of people I love are probably experiencing some similar feelings and questions right now. This is a blessing and an amazing opportunity to learn who I am, so I am ready to embrace it! Stay tuned, big things are coming for this gal.