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partyrock's avatar

Do you know your identity and how did you find it? Did you always know who you are?

Asked by partyrock (3870points) December 10th, 2011

Did it take you a long time to find out who you really are, or what your purpose is? Did you always know the person you wanted to become? How do you find yourself when you felt lost in life? I feel like I don’t really know who I am yet.

How does one open and use their full potential ?

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22 Answers

HungryGuy's avatar

I’ve always known who I am, but who I am has changed gradually over the years. In high school, I was a shy nerd, despised by bullies around the world. Now, I’m an infamous erotic/horror writer, despised by religious zealots around the world :-p

marinelife's avatar

First, take a deep breath. You are who you are and your purpose is whatever you are doing right now.

Then, divide your life into zones and take a look at each to see how happy you are with it.

Perhaps if your career hasn’t gelled, your personal and family lives are good.

Take stock of what you have in each zone and what you would like to change. Then make a plan for making those changes. Slowly, at a pace you can absorb.

thorninmud's avatar

I don’t know my identity. At 53, I’ve sworn off of identities.

People your age (and I was no exception) feel that the self is so real, so they expend considerable energy trying to give it definition. They think real things must have shape and identifying characteristics and some measure of stability over time. But pay close attention for long enough and you’ll discover that none of that works with self. Or only on a provisional basis, at best.

Your little, private self is quite a fleeting thing. You can try to flesh it out with lifestyles and credos and other trappings, but it all shifts and flows faster than you think, and none of it seems to fit anymore.

The only self worth the name is impossible to define, because it has no fixed characteristics. It’s alive and throbbing with potential. Try to pin it down and it becomes a frozen parody of itself.

RedmannX5's avatar

Speaking out of my own personal experience, I think the main issue isn’t really who you are, (I mean you know yourself better than anyone on this planet, you know your desires, what makes you angry, what makes you excited, etc.) but rather what you think of who you are. I think that gaining an identity involves figuring out your strengths and your weaknesses, but more importantly you must come to terms with them and accept them. Like @thorninmud brought up, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to define who you are as a person because any given person changes so drastically over time. I mean I think back to the person I was even 1 year ago, and he’s completely different than myself now.

And as far as the “full potential” question: I think that those who are most successful have been able to not worry about figuring out their identity and trying to define it, but rather have accepted who they are so that they can focus their precious energy on getting things accomplished that are meaningful in this world. Please don’t mistake me saying that as me downplaying your question (it’s a fantastic question). I’m not saying that figuring out oneself’s inner workings is unimportant, I mean hell, I’m studying psychology, but try not to get so wrapped up in the notion of defining yourself in any sort of concrete, methodological way. Instead just take the things you already know about yourself (e.g. your motives, your desires, your intentions) and try to implement the healthy things and focus on improving your strengths and lessening your weaknesses.

everephebe's avatar

I had to go find it in India.~

geeky_mama's avatar

This is a deeply individual/case by case thing. I do know of some people who found their purpose in life pretty young. Case in point: Katie Davis. (Side note: I highly recommend her blog and her book.)

As for me..I certainly didn’t have my ‘identity’ figured out in college.
I looked around me and thought everyone else knew what they were doing and I didn’t – and was pretty much unsure about this whole “moving on to the next stage” of adult life.
I could tell you what I liked to wear (Doc Martens), what music I loved (alternative), and what bands mattered to me…but I didn’t have much else figured out.

I graduated kind of young (stretched it out until 20 by taking some extra credits I didn’t need) so I knew I wasn’t done figuring out what my purpose in life was.. So I went off to live abroad for my first job out of college. I looked into Peace Corps, the JET program and finally took a corporate job in a really rural part of Japan. I stayed there until I figured out who I was (all by myself), what mattered to me and what I wanted next.
I truly had a vision of the “next stage” and made it happen.

Here’s the crazy thing life went identity evolved. I became less me and more identified as: “J’s wife” or “L’s mom” or “the Girl Scout leader of troop X” or “that lady who collects donations to send to Africa”.

So..give yourself permission to not have any of it figured out.
You don’t need to know what your purpose in life’ll unfold for you. Really.
People end up working at a job, meeting a person, moving for work or that person they love..and life…life just happens.

You know the saying: “We make plans and God laughs”...well, I don’t think you necessarily have to believe in God to get the gist of it…but, life is something that happens while we’re busy making plans.
Go out and try everything once. Figure out what you’re passionate about..and it’ll all fall into place.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I feel like I’ve always known who I am. My likes and dislikes change, my personality evolves, too, but deep down I know me. I have always been this person, I feel like I didn’t have to search to find this, because it’s just always been there. Now, I have spent many years unraveling and understanding this ‘identity,’ but I definitely have had a lifelong awareness of my self.

RedmannX5's avatar

@geeky_mama Great answer, I think everything you said pretty much hit the nail on the head. Actually, this leads me to another question that I’ve been wondering about.

wundayatta's avatar

It was a long quest, much of it with my nose to the ground (you recognize your identity by its scent, and identity scents are strongest close to the ground). Somewhere in the third year of my search… or was it the seventh? The thirteenth? Thirtieth? Forty fourth?

Anyway, one of those times, I caught the scent, and I’ve been tracking it every since. It’s an elusive little bastard. I’ve caught sight of it several times, but I just don’t seem to be able to catch up to it. It’s kind of funny in a weird sort of way. Must be smart, because it’s so elusive. Pretty creative. Oh I don’t know. Sometimes I wonder if I’m any closer to it than when I started.

You know what? I never seem to be closest to it than when I am where I already am. Go figure!

tianalovesyou's avatar

i suggest you read “This Boy’s Life” by Tobias Wolf (:

CaptainHarley's avatar

I just kept trying different things until I found what I was not only good at, but enjoyed.

ucme's avatar

For a time my identity was a weight around my neck, until I realised those dog tags were way too heavy.
I now wear a bracelet type affair in it’s place, much more to my taste.

Sunny2's avatar

I was a very, very late bloomer. Self-awareness was elusive and late in coming. Little by little I defined who I was, first by what I did and second by what I thought and felt. I have changed from the basic self I was (self-righteous, overbearing, selfish, stubborn) to a person I like (caring, thoughtful, reliable, relaxed). I’ve always enjoyed a sense of the ridiculous. Part of who you are will come from what you do or don’t want to be. You can determine it yourself if you’re realistic about your abilities and faults.

cheebdragon's avatar

Shockingly enough, I have been with myself my entire life.

YARNLADY's avatar

It took me along time to realize there is no such thing as a purpose in life, and my identity is an ever evolving thing.

saint's avatar

I have always been who and what I am. What other “I am’s” do I have access to?

CaptainHarley's avatar


Any others of which your mind can concieve. : )

Berserker's avatar

Purpose? I denno what mine is, if purposes even exist. Besides paying for shit until I die. I’ve always known who I was though. Some of what I am I’ve tried to deny, and still do. But I wouldn’t try to snuff it if I didn’t really know it was me.
Other parts of me, I want the world to know, and sometimes it all gets really confusing and frustrating. Especially when I try to keep up on how I change as shit goes by. I have no problem recognizing it, or at least, knowing it’s happening even if I don’t actually recognize it. But applying it, if application must be done, can be a bitch. At least, this is what the conscious part of me has to say.
As for the subconscious, well it can just sit there and be all secretive if that’s what it wants, haha. Fuck its ass!

CaptainHarley's avatar

LMAO @Symbeline

It was many years before I learned to just relax and allow my true self to emerge, rather than playing a role like an actor in a play.

Berserker's avatar

@CaptainHarley Yeah. Not saying I have nothing to learn; on the contrary lol.

CaptainHarley's avatar


That’s true of us all. When they start shovelling, I will finally have stopped learning .. at least on THIS side of the grave. : )

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