Have You Lost Your Identity Along the Way?

We go through several identity stages from the moment we are born until adulthood. Our parents shape us into respectable individuals. When we begin school, we try to discover where we belong with our peers. We want to be grown up yet not stray too far from our parents during adolescence. Then comes college, careers, marriage, and families until our children leave home to start their lives. And after all is said and done, we often find ourselves lost and asking who we are.

Who Am I?

Many of us struggle with our identity well into adulthood or throughout life. Questions such as, who am I, what have I accomplished, or where am I going in life circulate in our minds. It’s easy to see how that can happen because, as children, we’re conditioned to act a certain way by adults. Or we’re picked on in school because we can’t afford those stylish sneakers. We are then judged for our weight, skin colour, appearance or having different interests. So, we try to fit in and please others, yet we lose a part of ourselves each time. 

We also tend to identify ourselves by what we do rather than who we are. In other words, we’ll identify as parents, homemakers, or our careers, which are all wonderful things. Still, there’s more to you. You’re a person first. 

What Do You Do?

Growing up, the biggest questions we get are, what will you do with your life? What do you want to be when you grow up? Or do you plan on attending college? It’s not to say that these are terrible questions. Still, what about asking a child what they like about themselves or what makes a difference to them?

Even better is when you meet someone new, and almost always, their first question is, what do you do for work? Like, that’s all there is to you. 

Don’t Put All Your Eggs In One Basket

If our concept of identity is based solely on what we do, say as a parent or in our careers, that could lead to problems. In other words, our children will eventually grow up, leave home, and possibly start their own families. We will also ultimately reach retirement age and stop working someday, too. So, if we put our identity in one basket, we might not know what to do with ourselves, leaving us lonely and lost. In comparison, if we put our identity in several baskets, we’ll get by just fine if one disappears.

Finding Your True Identity

If you’re still struggling to find your true identity, hopefully, some of these suggestions will help.

1. Seek your core values and beliefs.

Everyone is different, so we all have specific core values and beliefs. Therefore, think about what is most important to you. For example, you may have a strong faith and choose to attend church twice a week. Or you may not believe in engaging with overly critical people.

Just remember, you have a right to your beliefs and values. So, do what is best for you, not what others think you should do.

2. Don’t compare yourself to anyone.

It’s sad how often we compare ourselves to others. For example, we envy those with bigger homes, fancy cars, or designer clothing. Yet, it’s not to say that they don’t deserve luxuries. Still, many people try to fill a void with their possessions. If anything, the wealthiest people are often the loneliest.

In addition, social media personifies how we should look by using the thinnest and tallest models or actors in magazines or TV. Yet, many of them are starving themselves just to keep their jobs. Appearances can also be deceptive, as makeup artists or Photoshop apps can make one look like an entirely different person.

We also have a society that discriminates against people based on their height, weight, skin colour, age, etc. Therefore, it’s no wonder people go in for repeated cosmetic surgery to the point of unrecognition.

3. Find something you might like to do.

Was there something you gave up long before the kids were born that you loved doing? For instance, hiking, photography, or scrapbooking. Or maybe you don’t know what you like. If not, perhaps you can try something new. And if the first thing you try doesn’t suit you, try something else. It’s no different than when we were kids jumping from one activity to another, trying to figure out what we liked. 

Volunteering might be something you’d want to look into. Not only will it make a difference in others’ lives, but it will do the same for you. For example, you can volunteer at a children’s hospital, food pantry, or through the Good Samaritans. Plus, it’s a great way to build relationships with others.

Volunteering also has a way of getting us unstuck from our minds. In other words, if we’re feeling lonely and depressed, helping someone can take us out of that mindset.

4. Believe in yourself. 

We often lose sight of the fact that behind the parent, caretaker, spouse, or role in our careers, we are someone, too. We have a name and unique qualities. But to reach that point, you must seek within and find what that is because it is there. In other words,  you may be caring, kind, loving, generous, loyal, honest, etc.

5. Find support from others.

Sometimes, finding our identity can be difficult, no matter how hard we try. Therefore, seeking the support of others experiencing similar feelings can help us feel less alone and make all the difference. One such place is Barty’s Adventures, where they hold special events and adventures to help men feel better about themselves by keeping active, thus improving mental health. Barty – We Are A Mental Health Initiative.  

It’s About You

Ultimately, identity is about who you are and not what you do. Of course, your life roles are very significant, but so are you. You’re not just your career, a friend, a family member, or a parent. You are you. 

If You Still Need More Help

Hopefully, these points could give some comfort, but sometimes just reading quotes isn’t enough. Online therapy can be a great option if you or a loved one is looking for more support.

Therapy through BetterHelp.com/Barty can be more affordable than traditional therapy and allows many options to communicate with your therapist from the comfort of your home. Most importantly, remember that it is okay not to be okay, and you are no less of a human for feeling your emotions and being vulnerable.

To receive 25% off your first month, head to BetterHelp.com/Barty

Feel free to drop by if you’d like to chat and just say, ‘Hey Barty,’ in strict confidence, and you can be anonymous if you wish. Or do not hesitate to leave a question in the comments section below at any time.

Sandy Glover


Sandy is the resident mental health professional at Barty. She previously worked as a therapist, earning a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's in counselling. Sandy has transitioned to becoming a peer presenter at several mental health settings through NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness). Her passion for mental health is evident in her writing as a subject matter expert who draws from personal experience, professional expertise, and education to help eliminate stigma.

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