When I got divorced 11 years ago, I remember dealing with it by focusing on the well-being of my children and making sure I was able to provide for them. So I decided to go back to school to get my Master’s Degree, work hard on cleaning up my credit and buy a new home.
After accomplishing what I set out to do, I remember sitting in my new bedroom not knowing what to do next.
All these things I accomplished only distracted me from myself. There was nothing else for me to do and I was royally confused. Little did I know, I was going through an identity crisis.
In this article, I will help you become aware of an identity crisis and recognize its symptoms so that you can be better prepared for it.
What is an identity crisis?
According to theorist and psychologist Erik Erickson, “an identity crisis is a time of analysis and exploration of different ways of looking at oneself”. He believed that it was one of the most important conflicts people face in development.
He also believed that an identity crisis can occur at any age from adolescence to adulthood. Our sense of self can change and grow as we experience new or difficult challenges in our lives such as:
- Ending of a marriage or partnership
- Losing or starting a job
- Beginning a new relationship
- Having a child
- Losing a loved one
- Experiencing a traumatic event
- Learning about a health condition
Symptoms of an identity crisis
If you are confused as much as I was or experiencing internal conflict, you may be experiencing an identity crisis.
If you are constantly asking questions related to “Who am I?” or finding yourself doing what you think you should do by society’s or other people’s standards rather than your own, you may be experiencing an identity crisis.
If you are not sure, check out these eight signs.
- You are questioning who you are related to relationships, age, health or career.
- You are experiencing personal conflict and constantly comparing yourself to others.
- You are questioning your values, spirituality, beliefs or interests.
- You conform to other people’s opinion instead of sticking to your own.
- It is hard to answer questions about yourself.
- You get bored easily.
- You have trouble trusting yourself.
- You’re searching for more meaning, reason or passion in your life.
Remember though, it is perfectly normal to ask questions about yourself, especially when changes are occurring in your life. However, if it is causing you to feel unstable and you are feeling stressed and anxious, then the real you is asking to come out.
So how do we know the difference?
When we are stable with our identity, we don’t feel a disconnect between who we were, and who we are now or will be in the future. Our moods and behaviours might change depending on the circumstances or on the people we surround ourselves with but we feel the same no matter what.
Now if we are experiencing an identity crisis, we feel as if we are floating. As if we have no foundation under our feet. Decisions are hard to make for fear of making the wrong choice.
We may be restless and not able to enjoy the present moment. We feel stressed and dissatisfied. I called it “the grass is always greener on the other side” syndrome.
An identity crisis is a good thing!
Although having an identity crisis can make you feel restless and frustrated, it’s a good thing! There is no better time in understanding and knowing the real you. Questioning yourself can help you gain a better sense of who you are and who you will be.
Life is always changing. The only thing that is constant is your inner self and it’s waiting to be discovered. All it takes is commitment, dedication and a little exploration to a happier and healthier you!