10 Things to Do When You Forget Who You Are

As we grow, we have more space to look back on, more time to reflect upon, more images of ourselves to sort through, and more shifting currents to sift through. The anxiety of the future, and perhaps, the overwhelming nature of the present all amount to a bad bout of vertigo when it all seeps in and gets to you. I’ve looked at myself in the mirror a fair few times with despair sinking my chest thinking, “What do I even like anymore? What am I good at? What are my goals? Why are these my goals?  Who am I? WHAT am I?”

In short, I’ve been Lost, with a capital L. In the midst of all this outside commotion, sometimes we just completely lose the basic part of our existence: ourselves. Maybe you’ve been there before, too. In these moments where I’ve been completely and utterly baffled about myself and my life, I try to remember:

1. I’m not alone. There’s a lot of us, and even if I’m a freaking nutball, there’s gotta be another one out there just like me. It is pretty typical but when I remember this it brings me an inch or so closer to Earth again.

2. Family. In these moments, I know I’ve always got my family to remind who I am. Whether this is good or bad for you, it’s almost always a good starting point to regenerate your sense of self and, sometimes, a sense of purpose.

3. Friends. Reaching out to friends, especially friends who laugh at my jokes always pulls my head out of the clouds a bit more. The perceptions your friends have sometimes have more of an affect of reminding you who you are than your family. There’s always a few I can turn to that have a way of reminding me of the good and bad about me that brings me down to solid ground again. So far, the first things to do is reach out to your community. It’s true that we do depend on others’ perceptions of ourselves to in part form our own idea of who we are…without it we lose it. It’s not weakness. It’s human.

4. World News. I try to remember the World by reading the news. When you fall into these claustrophobic spirals of self-doubt, it’s always humbling and important to relocate your position in the greater context of this big-little world we live in.

5. Nature. An understated and under-appreciated tranquilizer in our ever-growing digital world, I seek nature when the pieces of me begin falling from my eyes. Seeing trees transforms my droplets of confusion into tears of utter joy. They’re so beautiful. Every little living organism is a freakin’ miracle and going outside of yourself to explore and revel in that is a great way of sobering up your self-indulged despair. Also, you start to see that, hey, you’re pretty miraculous, too.

6. Meditation or Prayer. There’s a phrase I love so much, “Give it up to God” just throw it all up to the Universe, the beautiful and timeless Tao, the Holy Spirit. After I regain myself slightly, I try to remember that it isn’t always so important to be a “self”…and that faith, man, you’ve gotta have faith in this crazy thing we’re living. Sitting on a bench and just sending out your good to the world, the people who need it, and the people you love is freeing and creates nothing but positivity for you. Whether you want to talk to Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, or the Air, I encourage you try it.

7. Music. Sometimes I just pop on some Norah Jones, voiceless Jazz, chill beachy music, or an old playlist and allow my mind to travel to all the places the songs take me. Music is a good way to pull yourself out of the pool of worry you’ve been drowning in. If you’re talented and disciplined enough to be able to play an instrument, all the better– I’m sure you already seek out this remedy when you’re in this mood.

8. Sleep. My mother always told me if I didn’t know something, just sleep on it. If I find myself falling into the dizzying black swirl of baffledom and it’s an opportune moment, I just go to bed. If I need to I’ll drink a glass of wine and pass the f out, too. ( I don’t encourage drinking as a way to re-self-discover… it’s almost always a path to self-destruction and shame. That isn’t to say, though, that alcohol doesn’t have its helpful and calming effects in the right dosage. Consume responsibly ;-).)

9. New days. After I’ve almost fully returned to the ground, I try to remember that even if it’s not very clear to me who I am and where exactly I’m headed, that every day is a new opportunity to become more sure of that, and I shan’t waste it worrying about unknowing, because after all, we all know different things, and most of us know a whole lot of nothing.

10. Unfreeze. In the same vein as remembering that each day is a new opportunity, I try to remember that If I don´t move, if I stay stagnant and frozen in worry and confusion, I´ll stay that way. So if I don´t remember myself in the situation I’m in, I’ve gotta break out and try new things. I’ve gotta break free from the comfortable (which for me is often times miserable) and put myself to the test. I’ve got to unfreeze myself and keep moving. Whether it’s embarking on a bit of new research or changing up my routine, I know I’ve gotta Always Discover.

Do you ever get caught up outside of yourself and lose touch with yourself? Well if no, good for you. You’re pretty extraordinary. And if yes, you’re not alone. Share your coping mechanisms below! I’d love to learn some new ones.

2 thoughts on “10 Things to Do When You Forget Who You Are

  1. Alaina, you are an amazing writer….I thoroughly enjoyed reading your journal. And yes, it takes a tremendous amount of courage to be a teacher :). Luv, Auntie Joyce!

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  2. Hooping has gone from something I do every once in awhile to something I do every single day. The decisions I make between moves and the meditative effect of repeating the same moves until I get them right has become a huge coping mechanism for me. Also hoop dancing to great jams outside is pretty much the best thing ever.

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