The question “who are you?” can be very complicated, especially for young adults who are still developing their sense of self. At 19 years of age I am still working on figuring out what I value, what I enjoy and what I want in life, as with many others. However, I have found that it is easy to confuse group identity with personal identity. Without our conscious awareness of it, we can lose touch of who we are when we are alone, and who we become when there are people around us. Often, individuals find themselves becoming like the friends that surround them. Perhaps you may find yourself acquiring your friends beliefs and morals, or forcing yourself to enjoy certain activities. This is not necessarily always a negative thing, but it can be helpful to take a step back, and reflect on who you are, when no one is watching. It is important to honor who we are, including our hobbies and values, in all contexts. Moreover, it can significantly negatively impact one’s mental health when they feel as if they are not staying true to oneself. Feelings of guilt, and a disconnect with those around them may arise.
Here are some steps you can take to assist yourself in narrowing the gap between who you are alone versus when with others:
- Reflect on who you are instead of who you want to become in society
- Discover passions that you enjoy in solitude
- Think about how you want your friends to perceive you, and why
- Observe how you are when you are with other people versus when you are alone
- What changes, and why?
Who you are already is enough and it can be harmful to feel as though you need to change to be fit in. Analyze your relationships and choose friends who appreciate you and your individuality. The path to discovering who we are can be very dynamic and undergo change throughout our lives. However, keeping this concept in mind and stopping in to check how we are change when others are around can provide helpful insight.
Note: The Free Your Mind Mental Health Society is an independent youth-led organization. The contents of this blog are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. In the event of a medical emergency, please call your doctor or 911 or other local emergency numbers immediately.