“You are not a sock. You are not lost. There is no ‘finding yourself’. You are not a lost sock or a 20 dollar bill in last winter’s coat pocket. Your true self is right here, buried under a lot of noise, false truths, and societal conditioning. You do not need to ‘find yourself’ – you need to return to yourself. You are not a sock.” – Madi Murphy
“Oh, she’s just finding herself.”
You’ve heard this phrase around the office, at parties, at family gatherings, usually in hushed tones, always with an air of superiority – and if you’re in the south, met with a “bless her heart”. Maybe you’ve said it as a catch-all phrase to end a relationship going downhill: “It’s not you. It’s me. I just need to find myself.” What you really wanted to say was: “It’s you. It’s all you. And good riddance, would it kill you to do your dishes just once?!”
So what do we really mean when we say we’re finding ourselves? We hate to break it to you, but you’re not lost. You’re not a sock, keys, or your dignity after a night out. Take yourself out of the existential crisis you’ve put yourself in. Changing jobs four times in a year doesn’t make you any more or less “lost” than anyone else floating around in this cosmic jacuzzi; just like discovering your true passion for woodworking or teaching chess doesn’t give you the key to self-actualization.
We have this preconceived idea of where we should be and at what point we should be there – when we should have our dream jobs or financial stability or a marriage or kids. We have it all mapped out, and when we go off route, we panic. When we play the comparison game, we feel inadequate, unfit, and out of place. Karen North, Ph.D., a clinical professor at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, tells Success Magazine, “Successful people really need to compare upward at least part of the time. They need to find their relevant peer group and say, ‘I’m better than two-thirds of my relevant peer group, but let me take a look at the one-third and see what they’re doing that’s better.’” When we’re feeling out of place, we’re focusing all of our energy on not being that one-third. We spend all day seeing perfectly curated feeds of people our same age living in fancier houses, eating ostentatious dinners, and having our dream bodies. Meanwhile we’re going to survival jobs and eating takeout for the third night in a row. Newsflash: you’re still not lost.
We try to find societal norms that we can identify with so that we fit somewhere – politically, economically, socially, and culturally. As creatures of habit, we find patterns that make sense to us and when parts of us don’t fully fit into a predetermined category, we write it off as being “lost”. The truth is that you’re right where you’ve always been. You don’t need to be found. You need to take the pressure off and trust the process. Trust that your promotion will come when you’re ready to handle it. Trust that you’ll come upon your dream job eventually. Trust that your life will work out in the exact way it’s supposed to so long as you keep hustling, grinding, and enjoying the process. Stop rushing the best parts of your life and missing out on where you’re supposed to be in this moment.
Three Ways to Prove to Yourself You’re Not a Lost Sock
Write a list of everything you have accomplished at work in the last week. Congratulate yourself on those accomplishments – big or small. Now go for the last month. Now try the last year. Think back to where you were a year ago. How different is this year from the last? How much growth have you seen? Acknowledge your progress and all the things you’ve done while feeling “lost”. You can do the same thing with your personal life.
Try something totally out of your comfort zone this week. Try something different the following week. Carry on until you find a new passion or hobby. It can be as simple as learning how to cook a new meal or as complicated as planning a trip to another country. Get creative.
Be deliberate about how you spend your day. Enjoy the small moments. Stuck in traffic during your morning commute? Blast the radio and sing along. Going to the grocery store after work? Smile at your cashier, ask how their day is, and mean it. Be patient with the coworker that drives you up a wall. Laugh off what you can’t change. Enjoy the day as if it were your last on earth. Finish each day by writing down five things your grateful for and watch the way you feel about your life change.