Good evening friends of the internet.
I feel like I’ve put this issue off my entire life (granted I’ve only had 20 years of it so far), but I feel like now is the right time for me to discuss this topic. It’s something which I have only just come to acknowledge despite the fact it has affected my studies, relationships and friends for many years now. Like many others out there, I actually didn’t realise that this was a real thing; I just thought I was incredibly slow at discovering who I was, though deep down I always felt slightly out of place- never quite fitting in with anyone at all.
Essentially, what I am talking about here is a lack of self. It hasn’t been recently officially diagnosed by a doctor per say, but over the years I have seen just a few(lol) counselors, therapists, psychologists, who have briefly touched on the subject, almost gently letting me in on the fact I might be stuck not knowing who the fuck I am for pretty much, my entire life. But I was young at the time and it never particularly registered in my mind; I was too busy focusing on not letting depression kill me. And I just didn’t focus on it until very recently (past few months perhaps), when I started to become extremely confused and, to put it simply, lost. I’m struggling to decide where to begin or where to focus this post because I think this is the most personal I have ever gotten. Even when I discussed my mental health, many of my close friends and family know about that so it wasn’t as scary for me to put out there, if that makes much sense. Whereas, nobody is aware about any of this. Because it confused me. Most people already found me boring, I didn’t want to confirm to everyone that I was in fact, extremely boring. I’ll start at the beginning to make this somewhat coherent.
From even a young child, looking back, I was always very muddled with the things I used to enjoy, this involved hobbies, music, etc. In middle school I took part in various clubs such as cross-stitch, hockey, baking, gymnastics, and many more. But quite frankly, I don’t remember enjoying any of them. But my friends were in them and therefore I just joined as well. I never had any interests of my own as a young child that I can recall. I was always, for a long time, trying too hard just to be different. I wanted to be unique and myself but I had no clue who ‘myself’ was (not that anyone did at the age of 11/12). I went through a ‘goth’ phase. I wore all black, white face makeup and raccoon mimicking eyeliner. I looked ridiculous but I just wanted people to look at me and think I was ‘cool’ for just being me. It was just too important for me to be ‘unique’. It was around this time I started self-harming. I was young and naive and didn’t even understand why I was doing it; all I knew was that it made me feel good. I had friends but they were very unreliable and circumstances changed a lot. People became bored of me just as quick as they became interested. When I look back now, I think I started self-harming as another way to try and be someone different. Because 11 year old me was stupid. But also, I think it distracted me from a sadness deep down that no-one really liked me much and that I appeared ‘different’ but I still felt so out of step, almost alien-like in my own skin.
Growing up, I always felt the need to be heard. I needed to be noticed, not by the popular kids per say, but just by others. I hated being on my own, blending into the background. I almost craved attention from my friends because if people accepted me, I felt less crazy and less empty. Everything I did was molded by those I was friends with. The type of music I listened to was defined by friends, if they liked baking- so did I. If they had a certain style of writing or drawing- I’d try to copy that. If they dressed a certain way- I’d try to style myself that way as well. It was never one person and it was never purposely copied. I simply, somehow, managed to blend all of my friends interests into one. It was all I could think to do to make people like me. Of course I had my own characteristics; humor, kindness, loyal, bit ditsy. I just never could particularly place my finger on things I enjoyed and to this day, I still can’t.
I think, having problems coping with depression my entire childhood screwed up my sense of self. You see, it is pretty difficult to figure out who you are and what you want to be when you’re in bed everyday, unable to gather the energy to go out, addicted to various pills. My depression defined me a bit too much.
Over many, many years I have had a lot of different clothing styles, hair colours and cuts. I’ve gone from goth to wearing floral skirts, to tomboy and then back to vests and skirts to crop tops and a short goth phase again to ‘fashionable clothing’. My hair colour has changed more often than I can remember and I’ve cut it into ridiculous styles, shaved parts off, gotten extensions and even worn wigs.And I’ve always put it down to the fact I have no idea who I am. Do I like short hair? Do I like long hair? Do I like my hair natural colour or bright coloured? Genuinely, I have no idea. Today I like my long, dark brown hair but tomorrow I may wake up wanting bright blue, short hair. I spent my childhood copying styles around me and now, I end up switching my style almost everyday. But I don’t have any favourites.
I’m at university. But I don’t know whether I enjoy the course. I’m apparently good at it but do I enjoy it? Some days I do. Then others, I want to become a beautician. Or a video maker and editor. Or the day after that I want to be a lab scientist. My decisions change everyday and I honestly, can’t picture myself happy in any job or career in the future because I change too quickly. In fact, when I try to look ahead to the future, I find it incredibly difficult to picture myself happy in any way; how can I ever be happy when I don’t know what actually makes me happy?
Something which seemingly comes hand-in-hand with a lack of self, is something called derealisation or depersonalisation. I personally feel like this for me, was triggered and brought on by my anxiety growing so severe over the previous months. I’m not going to go into it here because it still confuses me sightly as I am very new to this and I am still figuring this out myself. But what I will say is it is the most bizarre sensations I have ever felt in my life; it’s son like anything I have ever experienced. It’s so much more than just ‘zoning out’. I can almost feel myself entirely detach from my own mind because sometimes I feel like I cannot cope within a anxious or stressful situation. People around me are there but they don’t feel real anymore, almost like I am a ghost. Sometimes it can be a calming feeling; mostly it just freaks me out a little.
To most, this post won’t make much sense, it may seem like a minor thing. Someone may read it and think “how ridiculous. She just needs to ‘find herself'”, but I can assure you, I am 20 years old, still confused at the concept of knowing myself, but I am continuously trying to ‘find myself’ because I hate the admit I might need to see a doctor. The problem is, with every passing day I grow unhappier, more confused, and more hateful towards my own body because it’s so hard to describe and recognise myself. Knowing oneself is such a major thing when you have no idea where to start.