How to be yourself if you don't know who you really are? - Social Anxiety Forum
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post #1 of 32 (permalink) Old 06-05-2020, 04:26 AM Thread Starter
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How to be yourself if you don't know who you really are?


Hi, all.

I've suffered from social anxiety for most of my life, which has undeniably had an effect on my relationships with others--and, most importantly, my relationship with myself. For several years of my life (particularly my teenage years), I tried hard to fit in and be the version of myself that people expected. I was always quiet and tried my best to keep people happy so they would like me.

Now I'm an adult who can't help looking at herself with disgust. Lately, though, I've been trying to change that and accept myself for who I am. But the problem is that I don't really know who that is. For as long as I can remember, I've always pretended to be something that I'm not. I've pretended to agree with people on things that completely went against my actual opinions, just so I wouldn't upset the other person. And, more often than not, I spend my time pretending to be someone else and ask myself what they would do in the situations I encounter. Whether it's a character from a book or a show, or even someone in real life that I admire, I'm always trying to be someone else because it's much more interesting than being myself.

The problem is, my desire to be accepted by others and to feel fulfilled has led me to lose any sense of who I am. Believe me, I've TRIED to get to know myself. I've thrown myself into hobbies, meditated, and really contemplated on who I am. I've tried to think about what I like, what makes me happy, what I can't stand, what ignites my passion--not to mention, the whole gamut of generic self-help advice that tells you ways to find yourself without actually telling you how to do it. But the problem is that I change my mind so often... I can never keep interested in one aspect because I'm always adapting to make myself fit a certain mold. My brain cannot stop thinking about how amazing someone else is--real or fictional--and how incredible it would be to be like them. I've found myself doing so many things because others do it, to the point that I'm not even sure what I actually like and what I just think I should like.

I have such a bland and boring personality 90% of the time, to the point that people just forget I exist. I've tried reaching out to others in the hopes of forming a connection with someone, but it never amounts to anything. I even tried practicing forming friendships/acquaintanceships online in things like Discord. That just ended with me basically agreeing with what everyone else said and contributing very little to the conversation, to the point that others just ignored me completely.

Honestly, I'm at the point where I'm so tired of feeling miserable about who I am. I want to love myself first, but I can't love someone who is barely there. And I know I can't expect others to love me when I can't even do that for myself. I want to be confident in who I am, but I don't know how to discover who that is. Sorry to ramble on for so long; I've kept this pent up and it all came flooding out. If anyone is willing to share their thoughts/offer advice, I would really appreciate it. Thanks to everyone who took the time to read all or at least most of this.
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post #2 of 32 (permalink) Old 06-05-2020, 05:01 AM
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Perhaps moving away from the implicit notion you seem to have that you have an essential self to discover might be helpful. It might provide you space to not be so stressed about finding out who you are exactly. Also, looking into what the Buddha had to say in regards to that might be helpful.

There's nothing wrong with being agreeable -- being high in agreeableness is treated with approbation by the Big Five personality traits theory. It's unfortunate that the internet rewards inflammatory contrarians with more attention because contrarians can suck all the air out of the room, leaving many of those who are agreeable feeling left out.

I commiserate with your feeling of disgust for yourself. This is something I've been attempting to ameliorate for many years, only to be met with failure, except when sedated away. The amount of disgust that I have for myself is overwhelming at times. Please, please, please try not to feel disgust for yourself because it will only make things worse. Try to be patient, kind, and compassionate toward yourself, and also try to surround yourself with people who are patient, kind, and compassionate toward you. I'd suggest compassion meditation, but you probably already know about it.
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post #3 of 32 (permalink) Old 06-05-2020, 06:58 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Cringy Snowflake View Post
Perhaps moving away from the implicit notion you seem to have that you have an essential self to discover might be helpful. It might provide you space to not be so stressed about finding out who you are exactly. Also, looking into what the Buddha had to say in regards to that might be helpful.

There's nothing wrong with being agreeable -- being high in agreeableness is treated with approbation by the Big Five personality traits theory. It's unfortunate that the internet rewards inflammatory contrarians with more attention because contrarians can suck all the air out of the room, leaving many of those who are agreeable feeling left out.

I commiserate with your feeling of disgust for yourself. This is something I've been attempting to ameliorate for many years, only to be met with failure, except when sedated away. The amount of disgust that I have for myself is overwhelming at times. Please, please, please try not to feel disgust for yourself because it will only make things worse. Try to be patient, kind, and compassionate toward yourself, and also try to surround yourself with people who are patient, kind, and compassionate toward you. I'd suggest compassion meditation, but you probably already know about it.
Thanks for replying!

I can definitely see how moving away from that notion would help, but it's something I just can't let go of. The problem is that there are times when I've had a glimpse of who I really am, times when I've felt so certain of myself.

When this happens, I really love the person I "see", but I can't hold onto that feeling. It's more akin to when you have a dream that makes you wake up feeling wonderful. But when you try to recall it (or even if you don't), the dream just slips away without you knowing what triggered such a positive feeling. I have some (rare) days where I feel like I'm resonating with my true self and that confidence shows; it seems like on those days, others even take notice. I try hard to replicate those thoughts and feelings, but it's not as simple as just telling myself to be confident like I was then.

You're definitely right about being agreeable. I can't stand when others are contrary just for the sake of being so, and there's a certain tact for disagreeing with someone. But I think I'm TOO agreeable on most things. I mean, not in a major sense (i.e., if someone is making disparaging remarks about certain groups of people, I'll state that I disagree). It's more of small things, like someone saying a movie I enjoy is garbage. Instead of being honest and saying how I really feel, I just end up saying "Yeah, you're so right". It's something small, but it happens so often that it irks me.

I appreciate your advice and I'll continue working on being more compassionate with myself. I hope you are able to do the same.
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post #4 of 32 (permalink) Old 06-05-2020, 08:15 AM
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Thanks for replying!

I can definitely see how moving away from that notion would help, but it's something I just can't let go of. The problem is that there are times when I've had a glimpse of who I really am, times when I've felt so certain of myself.

When this happens, I really love the person I "see", but I can't hold onto that feeling. It's more akin to when you have a dream that makes you wake up feeling wonderful. But when you try to recall it (or even if you don't), the dream just slips away without you knowing what triggered such a positive feeling. I have some (rare) days where I feel like I'm resonating with my true self and that confidence shows; it seems like on those days, others even take notice. I try hard to replicate those thoughts and feelings, but it's not as simple as just telling myself to be confident like I was then.


Interesting and well put. You might be describing flow experiences. Check out the following chart.






Also, perhaps the following video might help you.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TzPky5Xe1-s



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It's more of small things, like someone saying a movie I enjoy is garbage. Instead of being honest and saying how I really feel, I just end up saying "Yeah, you're so right". It's something small, but it happens so often that it irks me.


I have a similar problem when dealing with domineering personalities or disdainful remarks. It makes me want to hide from such people so that I can enjoy what I enjoy without enduring their potential disapproval. Also, being subjected to certain opinions and attitudes long enough can condition you into having those opinions and attitudes.

It's much more pleasant to be around open-minded people who don't act like excoriating connoisseurs.

I don't really have much advice. Medication is what allows me to stand up to such vehement opinions.

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I appreciate your advice and I'll continue working on being more compassionate with myself. I hope you are able to do the same.


Thanks.
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post #5 of 32 (permalink) Old 06-05-2020, 08:38 AM
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What a nice sophisticated support dialog! 🙂

I would like to add that we are all constantly discovering and reinventing ourselves!

Like already mentioned:
Always be kind to yourself, don't desperately try to be somebody else, stay true to yourself!
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post #6 of 32 (permalink) Old 06-05-2020, 12:57 PM Thread Starter
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Interesting and well put. You might be describing flow experiences. Check out the following chart.





Also, perhaps the following video might help you.





I have a similar problem when dealing with domineering personalities or disdainful remarks. It makes me want to hide from such people so that I can enjoy what I enjoy without enduring their potential disapproval. Also, being subjected to certain opinions and attitudes long enough can condition you into having those opinions and attitudes.

It's much more pleasant to be around open-minded people who don't act like excoriating connoisseurs.

I don't really have much advice. Medication is what allows me to stand up to such vehement opinions.



Thanks.
The whole concept of experiencing flow does seem to resonate a lot with what I experience, from what I could tell at a glance. I'll definitely give the video a full watch as soon as I get home from work.

Thank you so much for such a detailed and helpful response! Seriously, you're awesome for that.
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What a nice sophisticated support dialog! 🙂

I would like to add that we are all constantly discovering and reinventing ourselves!

Like already mentioned:
Always be kind to yourself, don't desperately try to be somebody else, stay true to yourself!
Thanks for replying!

That is a good way of putting it; it's just, in my case, I reinvent myself entirely too often and not for the right reasons. I don't want an unchanging version of myself by any means, but I do want that moment of, "Ah-ha! This is the real me" (even if that "me" will eventually change).

Being kinder to myself is definitely a tedious process, but I feel like it's gotten marginally better now that I've committed myself to some soul-searching. Plus, when I get support on these posts from you and others, it really does make me feel hopeful. So thank you for your advice!
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post #8 of 32 (permalink) Old 06-05-2020, 01:42 PM
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That is a good way of putting it; it's just, in my case, I reinvent myself entirely too often and not for the right reasons. I don't want an unchanging version of myself by any means, but I do want that moment of, "Ah-ha! This is the real me" (even if that "me" will eventually change).

Perhaps instead of reinventing yourself, you ought to sublimate that desire into inventing fictional characters. That way you can put your eloquence to good use by writing novels.
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post #9 of 32 (permalink) Old 06-05-2020, 02:19 PM
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No matter what you're doing, if you're not trying, you're being yourself.

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post #10 of 32 (permalink) Old 06-05-2020, 02:32 PM
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It's hard. I never really feel as though I'm being myself. I can't think of a situation where I've felt truly comfortable with myself, especially when it comes to how I think other's see me. Sometimes I feel like a living blank slate of a person when it comes to personality. Welcome to my perpetual identity crisis.

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post #11 of 32 (permalink) Old 06-05-2020, 05:50 PM Thread Starter
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Perhaps instead of reinventing yourself, you ought to sublimate that desire into inventing fictional characters. That way you can put your eloquence to good use by writing novels.
Haha, funny you should mention that... I do write short scripts/narratives for characters I've created just to act them out and see things from their perspective. Had I not been cursed with so much anxiety, I would have loved to be in theatre.
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No matter what you're doing, if you're not trying, you're being yourself.
Thanks for replying!

Yeah, I agree with that philosophy completely. Many of the times I've had that moment of feeling like "myself" are times when I'm not trying to be anything at all. However, when I attempt to replicate that "don't try" attitude, it just makes me try even harder. It's kinda like being on a restrictive diet, where the more you try not to think about food, the more you end up thinking about food. Hopefully, it's something that will get easier with time and practice.
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It's hard. I never really feel as though I'm being myself. I can't think of a situation where I've felt truly comfortable with myself, especially when it comes to how I think other's see me. Sometimes I feel like a living blank slate of a person when it comes to personality. Welcome to my perpetual identity crisis.
Thanks for replying!

What you've said sums up my feelings perfectly. In fact, a "blank slate" is how I perceive myself quite often. It's especially true when it comes to being around other people and how I think they perceive me. I tend to adapt myself to match their mood and adjust my opinions/interests to align more with theirs. Sometimes, I leave feeling like I've finally found who I want to be because I'm absorbing the other person's personality. But eventually, it fades, leaving me with that sinking feeling that I really don't have a personality of my own.

Thanks for sharing your experience. It actually helps to know that I'm not alone in this regard.
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post #14 of 32 (permalink) Old 06-06-2020, 03:22 AM
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The problem is that if you're quite abnormal like if you have severe social anxiety you are told by the medical establishment and by society that you're wrong and you need to get to your actual personality. Like there's a strong, fixed personality waiting to be discovered. Anyway being a shapeshifter is a personality it's just that your personality or parts of it changes and that's pathologised because people find inconsistency distressing.

Oh but uh, most people really aren't amazing lol.

If you want to envy someone for being impressive, envy plants they're really pulling their weight.


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Truth is, I don't exist, I'm just a soundtrack to your movie
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And what I feel's just felt for you to hear me ****ing spit it
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Posting, and gonna elaborate later
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The problem is that if you're quite abnormal like if you have severe social anxiety you are told by the medical establishment and by society that you're wrong and you need to get to your actual personality. Like there's a strong, fixed personality waiting to be discovered. Anyway being a shapeshifter is a personality it's just that your personality or parts of it changes and that's pathologised because people find inconsistency distressing.

Oh but uh, most people really aren't amazing lol.

If you want to envy someone for being impressive, envy plants they're really pulling their weight.

This guy has comedy voice.
Thanks for replying!

Your post is pretty interesting and brings up some good points. I definitely think that changing personalities (shapeshifting) is a facet of my real personality. Truth be told, I find it a lot of fun to act as another person and see things from their POV⁠—or, at least, I did before I realized that being someone else all the time was my way of avoiding things and didn't address my real issues.

I certainly don't think my true self is amazing by any means, but they're still a person I'd like to get to know. The true "me" I've had glimpses of seems like a more balanced combination of all the traits I've acquired from others, while this "me" is just a messy amalgamation of those personas. It's kind of like an actor/actress forgetting they're still in character long after the performance has ended. I just want a clear line of where "I" end and where "someone else" begins, if that makes sense. I don't want this part of me to disappear; I just want it to be balanced.

Great, now I'm jealous of vegetation.
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Posting, and gonna elaborate later

No worries! Take your time and thanks for replying.
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post #18 of 32 (permalink) Old 06-06-2020, 07:38 AM
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Thanks for replying!

Your post is pretty interesting and brings up some good points. I definitely think that changing personalities (shapeshifting) is a facet of my real personality. Truth be told, I find it a lot of fun to act as another person and see things from their POV⁠—or, at least, I did before I realized that being someone else all the time was my way of avoiding things and didn't address my real issues.

I certainly don't think my true self is amazing by any means, but they're still a person I'd like to get to know. The true "me" I've had glimpses of seems like a more balanced combination of all the traits I've acquired from others, while this "me" is just a messy amalgamation of those personas. It's kind of like an actor/actress forgetting they're still in character long after the performance has ended. I just want a clear line of where "I" end and where "someone else" begins, if that makes sense. I don't want this part of me to disappear; I just want it to be balanced.

Great, now I'm jealous of vegetation.
You probably have weak ego boundaries - the separation between yourself and others, but you also might just be more conscious of the process of how you accumulate information and ideas. I guess the problem is when you're doing it for someone else's benefit so if you become aware that you're changing yourself because of someone else and that feeling is negative you should try to avoid that and it should help you feel like you have somewhat more control which will probably help you feel more positive about yourself.

Some people heard my words and thought it meant they knew me
Truth is, I don't exist, I'm just a soundtrack to your movie
Some background figure in a story that's already scripted
And what I feel's just felt for you to hear me ****ing spit it
I jump in many different heads through these words and poems
Always hoping maybe the next leap'll be my leap home

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You probably have weak ego boundaries - the separation between yourself and others, but you also might just be more conscious of the process of how you accumulate information and ideas. I guess the problem is when you're doing it for someone else's benefit so if you become aware that you're changing yourself because of someone else and that feeling is negative you should try to avoid that and it should help you feel like you have somewhat more control which will probably help you feel more positive about yourself.
I think having weak ego boundaries encapsulates my problem pretty well.

I don't do it intentionally. It's like I see a certain trait or interest someone else has that I admire, and I then pick up on it and try to make it part of who I am. For example, I might admire an uncommon hobby someone has. So, in response, I throw myself into that hobby, devoting time and effort, only to realize after a while that it isn't something I actually enjoy. But then I feel stressed and horrible for abandoning it because I have nothing else to do and no real interests of my own. I also think I have a hard time distinguishing between wanting to try something new and wanting to do something just because someone else does it.

So, you think trying to be more aware of when these changes are happening and trying to stop them would help? I think that feeling over having more control like you mentioned is definitely something I've experienced during those times of rare self-harmony. It'll take some work, but I'll be sure to give it a try. Thank you for your advice!
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post #20 of 32 (permalink) Old 06-06-2020, 04:57 PM
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it's kind of hard to know who "yourself" really is. I could say I have said 'hey, i like that about that other person' this or that person and then i implemented it into my personality bc it resonates with me so i would say it's still 'yourself' but your newly discovered part of yourself. i also have advice, next time if a group of people say something like they don't like the movie that 'you' like, in order to be yourself, you can just be silent and if they ask you then you could say 'i like the movie'- you don't have to agree with everything, you're a unique individual. if they don't like it, there's someone else out there who would be like you, take care
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