If you’ve ever struggled with who you are, where you belong, or what you should be doing with your life, you’re not alone. Millions of people every year ask these same questions, some at multiple points during their lifetimes. With such a huge world, so many options, and expectations from family, society, and ourselves, it can be something of a challenge to find our identities and our place in the world at large.
An identity crisis can strike at any time during your life. It’s not limited to teenage or “self-discovery” years of our youth. People as old as 85 can have an identity crisis. The loose definition of an identity crisis is:
A period of uncertainty and confusion in which a person’s sense of identity becomes insecure, typically due to a change in their expected aims or role in society.
If you think you might be having an identity crisis, this guide will help you narrow down the root cause of your crisis and guide you toward figuring out where you belong in the world. Ready to get started? Let’s first take a deeper look at your crisis and what it means.
Identity, Identity, Identity
Where do our personal identities come from? How do we define who we are? Is it the music we listen to? Our race or ethnicity? Our sexuality? Our career? Our hobbies? Maybe the way we dress? Your identity, in truth, isn’t just one of these things, but rather a collection of attributes, choices, opinions, and personal preferences.
When you’re suffering from an identity crisis, it’s usually because of a recent even that made you question where you fit in the world or what you should be doing with your life. A major breakup/divorce, losing your job, dropping out of college, losing a loved one, or even moving to a new town/area can all make you question your identity.
First thing’s first: you’ll need to narrow down when you started to question yourself and what events may have led to it. Did you recently get divorced from your husband of 10 years? This kind of emotional turmoil and upheaval can certainly make you question your identity.
Maybe you recently left your church and religion altogether, and now you’re trying to figure out life, spirituality, and yourself without the help of the congregation and a higher power. Whatever the case may be, narrowing down that tipping point is the first step to figuring out who you are and where you belong.
Having an identity crisis is no minor challenge. A crisis of identity can make you question everything about your life and yourself, and could cause a spiral into depression, uncertainty, and even self destructive behavior. While you’re figuring out where you belong in the world, it’s best to avoid things like alcohol, recreational drugs, or other harmful practices that could make things worse.
Alcohol itself is a depressant, and over time can cause addiction, poor physical health, and even mental health issues like depression and anxiety. None of those things are going to help you navigate your identity crisis, so steer clear of substances. Get yourself figured out without the added stress of using recreational drugs or alcohol on a regular basis.
Start With Where You’re At
Alright, so you’re not sure where you belong. Let’s start with where you’re at. You’re a freshly divorced woman who also just left her church of 15 years. So, where does that leave you? You’re now a single woman who is exploring her spirituality. Doesn’t that sound better than divorced and churchless? The way we word things has a profound effect on how we actually view them. Your divorce was for a reason, and you’re likely better for it if the relationship itself was toxic.
And your church? If you weren’t experiencing fulfillment, happiness, or getting the right answers, leaving your church is a good thing.
Find What Makes You Happy
You know where you are, now let’s look at what makes you happy. What hobbies, people, or interests bring you the most joy? Focus on these things as a focal point of your identity. Are you a family person? Your family could be central to your identity. Do you love to play tennis on the weekends, go to the shooting range, or go hiking? Anything that interests you and makes you happy is a part of who you are.
You’ll Need Support
An identity crisis is a very serious life event. If you find that you’re really struggling with the details of who you are and where you fit in, you might need to seek professional help. A counselor can help you work through the root cause of your crisis and get you back on track to figuring out your place in the world.
Remember, we all have a place in this big world of ours. Sometimes, it just takes a little effort and the right support to find it. Don’t give up!