The world is a large place and the line between ourselves and our environment can become blurred. The following is a piece of me to my friends and those who are still trying to find themselves. Everything mentioned is related together and hope you can find inspiration to move forward. This is not a guide or an outline but rather a thought compilation for lost souls trying to fit into this world. These thoughts collect many everlasting parts that my friends left in me, so thank you (yes; if you felt the sentence is about you, your thoughts are correct). If you know who you are and what you want from this world then you have no reason reading the rest unless you personally know me.
How does it feel being lost
We all live on the same planet but sometimes we can get lost in the everyday tasks and activities forgetting ourselves in the process. The feeling of being lost is a strange and bizarre sensation as the feeling of emptiness takes over your soul and wondering what is the meaning of it all. Going through it while following the “natural” phases of life that exist around us. Going through it while abandoning your oneself and your best ally, never trusting its judgement or feeling. Disregarding it all just to maintain the social imposed boundaries and sometimes the self perceived boundaries. The feeling of not fitting or belonging anywhere and having uncalculated efforts in building unfit connections. The feeling of not doing anything valuable of your life and potential and dwelling in the past. It doesn’t feel like anything specifically as just the days pass without a flame within you, moving aimlessly forward. “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there”. The external world is very limited with its guidance efforts, once you’re in the pitch black nights of the life’s deep ocean no one other than you can navigate you to your own calling. The calling is what each one of us feel like he should achieve with his given skills and abilities.
Wishing people to extent their hands and help you to find your path is a desire that can’t be denied. You might get lucky with an insightful person who will want to help find your potential and get onto your path. But people have finite energy and limitations that would stop them from arguing everything wrong you might do in your lost state. Either way no one would know you better than yourself as getting back to your oneself is a journey that can only be accomplished by you.
How well do you know yourself?
Finding yourself isn’t an easy feat as it takes a deep understanding of your behaviors and true motives. Understanding your own behavior might take a while from you but with consistency and an open mind, a breakdown of your true self can be achieved. Ask yourself, how I would be if I were detached from everything I know? How would I behave? What would be important to me? What truly matters? What do I do because I want to? You can quickly discover that we do things for arbitrary reasons that doesn’t have to do with logic and everything to do with social expectations.
You would think that we behave the way we do just because we feel like it but in reality, people influence us in many ways. Many fears can hinder our ability to clearly see the situation. An example can be the fear of missing out as it’s a legitimate fear that can let people sacrifice their own sanity just for the chance to be in the action. The feeling when we got sick as kids and skip school cool things start happening and you miss out on the “Event of the year” is awfully familiar to most of us. The fear of authority figures is another fear that can blur your judgment. The authority figures which can extend to the family and friends, could make a person prioritize the group over himself. It’s not an obvious one to notice internally or externally as it tends to be seen as triggered anxiety within the person. Fears of different forms will be affecting the oneself insight and recognizing them is the first step.
The desire to belong to the group and to a part of a community might also make us pickup unnatural behaviors. Those behaviors that aren’t naturally developed but rather picked up to mimic the popular/common behaviors. They aren’t that bad, but it can create an artificial atmosphere that everyone is conforming to out of courtesy. Like a group of friends going to the coffee shop, what is inherently enjoyable about going to coffeeshops? If you gave it a thought, there is nothing about coffee shops that make it a better place than other places. Away from the “everything is a social construct” argument there is still a point to be made about us assigning meaning to behaviors and patterns around us without thinking about why we do them in the first place.
2016 was for me the peak of my social interaction but was also the downfall of it. The robotic self who had no reference of human interaction learned many social skills throughout that year. The environment was ideal for us to interact and bond over common interests, this resulted in great lasting friendships. Despite that, learning the beginnings without being stable can only take you so far. The inability to know the oneself brought me down as fast as it took me up. Many connections were burst and wasn’t healed back. There are two phrases that stuck with me from my friends, “be selfish” and “I is I”. It might be a silly thing to hang on for five years, but I only started to understand them recently. This might be an over interpretation of my friend’s words but this what I understood with time.
Lacking selfishness can be seen in people that could not understand how to set the necessary boundaries for themselves or for others. Our external environment would impose many things on us and use words like should, must, that’s what’s expected from you, this is the norm, this is how the world is, and there is no other way. We then become preoccupied with what the external environment wants from us leaving no room to have a moment and think about what we really want to do. Everything within us becomes an extension of other factors and people, resulting with our life's becoming an extended structure without a root to our own soul.
I always laughed when my friend used to tell me “I is I and you is you”. “you silly, what else we would be” I would tell myself, who doesn’t know himself? Turns out it’s me to a high degree as it took me relatively forever to realize how bad feeling lost could be. Walking with masks on and switching it to suit the environment and running it all on overdrive fueled by stress. Sometimes you would forge connections that influence you in a macro scale and set you in a new path after a while. Majority of the connections will only be affecting you in a micro level. Learn from the macro forces the strength and from the micro ones the flexibility. When you’re lost, you will engage in unhealthy behaviors as we seek what’s familiar to us. The main point of “I is I” was to reassure me that you’re your own thing and no one knows you better than yourself.
Priorities, Core values, and Expectations
One key to crystalize your oneself identity is to think and maybe write down what is important to you and the values you want to live by. Like an emperor planning to rule the world, place what you want to see in your inner empire. Values would include everything in your life from morals, codes, social standards with friends and family, what is unjust in your eyes. The list will start as a small set of values, but it will evolve and grow by gaining experience every time you introduce a new value into your life.
The importance of having your own values declared in the beginning is to gain the ability to cross reference your thoughts and actions with it. You at that point ask yourself whether any action you do go against what you believe in or not. This might be obvious for some people but it’s not for those who often go with the flow. In a sense you’re just setting up company policies for yourself and keeping yourself at check. The world might appear static and overwhelming, but your will power can make a difference no matter how much the world is unjust, the truth will always win in the end. Stick on to your values and what you believe in, what is right will be right no matter how much people will push against it.
Expectations is something that is imposed upon the oneself by its external influencers. Even what is often labeled as obligations are just expectations. Realign what is imposed from tradition and social expectations with what you really need, base everything upon the values you hold based on what you believe in.
Clinging on into the past
One thing that we can go into a vicious cycle with is overanalyzing the past and looping our mistakes without moving forward. We might place ourselves in the position where we might believe that learning from the past is the best thing that we can do to ourselves. In reality the past shouldn’t be treated as a collection of memories and blaming yourself for every wrong turn your past self have taken. Rather a place to learn more about your behavior and the reasons behind going to such paths. Always remember that even the worse things you might’ve done was done to the best of your ability and understanding in that period. Just remember that even the worse sinners could be forgiven; thus you can forgive yourself as long as you promise yourself that it’s a brand new start and move on from there.
The past also includes sunk cost fallacy as we tend to cling to the things we spent time and effort in building. At some point, the goals we are working toward might not work with the current approach. Thus, cutting your losses would take the form of ending your efforts, take a step back, formulate a new strategy, resulting in a fresh and new approach. This is also running in parallel to the previous point in having a new start with relationships or projects is far more effective than spending efforts on lost causes.
Self worth is an area that its understanding is critical into finding yourself, if you can’t see your own value, you won’t be able to get yourself back. Low self- worth is a symptom that can hide in plain sight from many people. It’s difficult to think about it and identify it. The symptom can be seen when it manifests itself as the answer to many “why don’t you x?” questions. Alternatively, not voicing out what you want or need because the surroundings take a priority upon yourself. It will be a hard thing to face specially as we tend to think that we treat ourselves well. Not seeing your own worth could be seen in self neglect behaviors as they give a good indication of it. Taking care of yourself mentally, physically, socially, and spiritually take you strides forward in taking your worth up. There might be thoughts of indifference to such actions or the thought of it not being a part of yourself. This is a natural loop you get into when you are lost in this world, everything should be familiar to your brain as your subconscious would resist change in his fear of the unknown.
Self wroth isn’t a solo journey at all, as social beings we require basic human connections. The best connections are the ones that bolsters our self image and accepts us for who we are. In the end the feelings of being heard, seen, and understood are basics for a true connection. Validation comes into play with self worth as it reassures us that there is nothing wrong with our flaws, and after all we are mere humans. In our journey to connecting we might start pushing people away, testing them, or annoying them. We might think a true connection might survive your stress testing because they like us already. There is no way that someone in his right mind will keep extending his hand to connect when you keeping closing doors on them. Connections are not an obstacle course for people to pass, but rather a building contest where each participant matches his partner’s pace.
Exerted energy and the finite energy
The world doesn’t really make sense and we could barely have a period of stable history for it to be ruined by someone’s greed. In a world full of unjust the oneself could only allocate so much mental and physical resources into the world. If you would care about everything and anything you will get burnt out when you least expect it. Everything is based on some sort of exploitation to the planet or people. Just be aware from what you can ethically consume from consumed products to services you use. I grew fond of those who would be environmentally responsible in their everyday life as they display some conscious effort to be responsible of their actions.
The oneself can only fight so many battles, think about the battles that you can affect. A ship can ever sail so much before refueling, so having a steady and consistent effort is more efficient than burst efforts. Knowing your environment is also essential for picking up your causes. Many people advocate for many things that are impractical and expect others to follow their lead. It would be like advocating for sustainability while placing no effort in recycling recyclable materials. You can’t push a wall, but you can move it block by block. Pick up the fights that aligns with what you believe in and want to change, being a follower for a cause you don’t believe in is just wasted energy.
I don’t think anyone can find his oneself without going through many negative feelings. As popular culture frames it, you will need to fight your own demons before claiming yourself back. Those demons will fight, and they will fight hard as they will try to keep you lost as long as they can; they thrive in darkness after all. Those battles can be fought alone but there are people around you that can help you get through each battle one at a time. Most of our negative feelings like anxiety, depression, sadness, loneliness, frustration, and guilt are one sided feelings. It means that it can be resolved once you understand the whole situation which makes having a supporting person important in breaking your loops. What can make things worse is the overstimulated environment that we live in as they introduce additional mental stress that strains anyone’s resilience.
Suppressing all feelings and experiences that we can’t deal with is very compelling in hindsight. But it will only lead to further trouble and conflict as the negative feedback loop will keep amplifying the issue. Communication and resilience are both essential for the wellbeing of the oneself. There are many great recourses that unravel that the complex machines we call humans are just a pattern of predictable behavior. Ironically, we call ourselves grownups as time passes by but we can’t really run away from our inner kid reactions. Under stress we can behave abnormally, far from how our oneself would normally behave in its efforts to connect with people. We only truly grow up once we can learn to healthfully communicate with other humans.
On your path to yourself and with all the thinking you would be doing, overthinking might be something that can be ran into. The overthinker might be doing his best looking for the best outcome. Overthinking is a paradox for the thinker as he doesn’t have the necessary tools to figure out a solution. For all what it concerns there is no obvious answer to the overthinker as if there was an obvious one to him, he would’ve seen it. Be gentle with the overthinking oneself and gently comfort him, as it’s quite naïve with earthly matters. The overthinking loop is just a natural recursive deduction method with not enough information is present in the overthinker mind.
Manipulation can take many forms, from silent treatment and guilt tripping to smear campaigns and victimization. The focus is to discourage and criticize, as it’s commonly practiced by many people. This kind of discouragement can come from people you are connected to as they will try to keep you under their control by inducing negative feelings. This could extend into making the oneself feel worthless just for them to outshine you in contrast. A true connection will guide you into the path to success and would want you to be a better person. The reason manipulation is mentioned is to enforce the idea that proper communication will set the oneself boundaries, by that it increases the contrast between the environment and the self.
Fighting those feelings is necessary to remove those cancerous thoughts and perceptions. It’s part of us that went bad and needs a treatment so you can reclaim your oneself and go on to navigate the world. It’s tempting to blame one party for all our problems as it can be taken internally by only blaming ourselves, and it can be taken externally by blaming other people. A healthy diagnose to the type of causation is by striking the balance between them two. Balance could be achieved by adjusting the ratios between knowing when you made the mistake, when it just didn’t work out, and when it was an external person fault. Learn from the three causation types and keep an eye out for each of them in the future.
Concept of homes
There is a poem that I recently liked because I have finally understood what it meant after 5 years from hearing it.
“We build homes in other people. And we decorate them with the love, and care, and respect that we want to come home to at the end of the day. We invest in homes in other people. And we evaluate our self worth based on how much those homes welcome us. When those people walk away. Those homes walk away with them. And all of a sudden we feel empty, because everything we had within us, we put in those homes. And we trusted someone else with pieces of us. So that emptiness that we feel doesn’t mean that we had nothing to give. It’s just that we built our home in the wrong place. We built our home that should be within us and we should come home to at the end of the day, in someone else, and all of a sudden, it’s not ours anymore.”
Those who are lost can build their homes in other people or groups and it becomes their safe place that they can belong to. Not only is this unhealthy but also dangerous as we place ourselves in other people while abandoning our oneself. I went through this as I saw a village I once built crumble in front of me. Thus, instead of seeking connections to fill in the void in yourself through defragmenting it, think more about yourself and how you can be your own unified being.
Looking forward to the future
The ones who are destined for greatness will reach it no matter the struggles. Now after we established the variables that goes into finding yourself, how you know that you found your oneself. It’s a strange feeling of peace and direction at the same time. You might not be able to tell exactly how you will be in the next 10 years, but you have a trusty pilot leading you forward. Chart your plans and figure out where your calling is, strive forward into making the difference you want to be in this world. The difference shouldn’t be always big, and each will have different ones. Find your similar souls and unite toward a purposeful future.
I have friends who are years ahead of me mentally and who tried to teach me once in the past, but I was too naïve. The world was different for me and had different priorities that weren’t mine. I wish more with their mentality are around us and thus writing this. This might not strike anything to some people now, but it might do for their future selves. No amount of guidance can help you find yourself if you don't want to change. Evolving personalities are a natural thing and everyone goes through it one way or another. If you aren’t changing you aren’t improving, so strap on and fight for your dream!