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DearSugar Needs Your Help: How Can I Find Myself?

DearSugar and Searching Sandra need your help. While in a five-year relationship, she lost track of the person she is and the woman she wants to become. Now that she and her boyfriend have split up, she wants to find herself, but she doesn't know how. Do you have any advice for her?

Dear Sugar,

My on-again, off-again boyfriend of five years broke up with me a few days ago. We’d had the same problems since the beginning of our relationship and we knew they were never going to get better — we just weren't right for each other. Part of the problem was instead of growing with him, I depended on him for happiness and didn’t bother to discover who I really was. I was never truly satisfied because I didn't know what I really wanted out of life. I know that only I can make myself truly happy, but I just don’t know how to get there. So my question is, how do you get to know yourself? What should I do to get the clarity I need to move on with my life as an independent woman? — Searching Sandra


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melizzle melizzle 8 years
How to find yourself: stop looking, start living.
aimeeb aimeeb 8 years
Start journaling, it has helped me a lot over the years. I also think time alone will help and just going back to the simple things you enjoy doing...I think it will take time that's the most important thing. It took you this long to feel "lost" so you will need ample time to regain the "you" that was lost.
EvilDorkGirl EvilDorkGirl 8 years
I think everybody, particularly Sabrinaland, has great advice. There's one thing nobody else has suggested - take a trip to someplace you've always wanted to go. Go by yourself or bring a friend, but make sure you schedule enough downtime to sleep in, write, draw, take pictures, or whatever it is that makes you happy. And don't worry about coming to some great epiphany about yourself. You are who you are, even in the present, and your life experiences will make you a constantly-changing person. You don't have to define anything about yourself, just figure out what it is that makes you smile.
dm8bri dm8bri 8 years
Everyone has great advice - I would also suggest counseling. Especially a career counselor - you can take personality tests that tell you what sort of career or path fits your personality.
Janine22 Janine22 8 years
For me, one of the ways that I learned to get to know myself was by spending time alone some of the time, instead of always being around other people. You also may want to start journalling your thoughts, writing down some of your goals, take a class or puruse a hobby you have always been interested in, save up to go travelling somewhere fun, spend time with friends or make new friends, do fun stuff you enjoyed as a kid. It's also really fun to spend time with kids,- they always act authentically, honestly and are up for exploring new things. I think conquering your fears can help to make you realize that you actually could do what you were so afraid of, and it makes you feel braver. Good luck and have fun and learn to enjoy your own company, and laugh at yourself! :)
LeChatonNoir LeChatonNoir 8 years
If you want to know yourself, you must realize that the behavior of depending on someone didn't start with your boyfriend. There must have been someone instrumental in your childhood upbringing who taught you to thrive on dependency. This person (or people) may have not intended to instill that negative behavior in you, but as long as it exists as a thought in your head that you are somehow "weak" or "irresponsible" or "need looking after" in any way, you will be perpetuating that idea that that's who you are, when that is not true, at all. The fact that you want to "know yourself better" and become an independent person means opening up to your fears of being alone, without any loved one to offer support and encouragement. Ironically, you won't ever really feel truly deserving of support unless you get rid of your dependency issues, because you'll feel the guilt of relying on someone - this tends to lead to feeling the desire to sabotage the relationships in which you feel support. It's a vicious cycle. So, first off, breathe, and make a connection with the world around you. Once you can do that, emotions will come up - fear, anger, sadness- and if you can accept those feelings within yourself, you will feel stronger. The more you can be honest with yourself about anything that you're feeling, even if it doesn't seem to make sense, the more you'll feel you can trust yourself as a strong and independent person in the world. Good luck!! :)
LilLucyT21 LilLucyT21 8 years
Thanks for all the wonderful comments. I feel like reading that post, was reading about me. Except I'm still in my relantionship but i just realised the other day that I never make a decision for myself, I've been with my boyfriend since i as 18, so all through those major important years and I don't want to rely on him anymore, I want to rely on me. Thanks for all the suggestions, I will definlty take them up :)
Jaca1284 Jaca1284 8 years
It's definately not something that happens over night. I would say that this is a great time to try some things you always wanted to do but never did. Also, start doing things just because youwant to do them. If you feel like eating oreos for breakfast, go ahead. This is your opportunity to do what you want to do regardless of how silly it may seem.
sabrinaland sabrinaland 8 years
I went through the same thing you are now going through and I found that the best way to "find yourself" again is to try and remember what you used to like to do as a kid, or as a teenager, then pursue those things as they are true indicators of what you like. For me, I remembered that I used to love riding my bike. Then I realized I hadn't ridden a bike in 5 years. So I borrowed a friend's bike and loved it! I felt great and I felt like "me" again zipping through the streets. I also remembered that as a teenager, I used to love coming home from school and listening to music on the floor, surrounded by records. So that's what I started doing again and I really enjoyed myself. It's simple, but it makes me happy. Once you start doing these things, you will feel an excitement you haven't felt for ages (well, at least I did!) and you will be able to determine more easily what types of things define you. Good luck and I hope this gets you started on your journey.
Bodhar Bodhar 8 years
Think up something you want to do and never have, for whatever reason. Then do it. Rinse, repeat.
sprinkibrio sprinkibrio 8 years
I'm no expert on this but I think all it takes is time. Time to let the decisions you've made change you, whether that be your job, city, hobbies, friends, or boyfriends. You know who you were... you were that girl who relied on a guy for everything (among other, I'm sure, wonderful things--loving, sweet, and giving). Now a decision has been made for you that will change you. Exciting!
margokhal margokhal 8 years
This is actually pretty simple. I don't think you needed help with this one, Dear! Think of it this way: Let's say you're meeting someone for the very first time. This person, you're SURE, is going to become your VERY best friend. How would you go about getting to know her? Well, you might start by asking who she is. Try writing "I am ____" and fill in the blank as many times as you can. No matter how silly it sounds, keep writing! Take a look at the list. You've already got an idea about yourself already. [For the positive things, I've known some people who turn them into mantras and say them to themselves in the mirror. It helps you build confidence.] Then, you might ask about what she likes to do. You say you don't know yourself, so this is a GREAT time to go out and try some new things. At least this way, you can find out what you do and don't like. What kind of foods do you like to eat? Go to a new restaurant and try something out! Do you like to hike or rock climb? Try it! Crochet or read a good book? See how they sit with you. In this process, you may actually find a passion for something that you never knew you had before. Maybe you'll find you really really like to bake cupcakes. Or train for triathlons. Or volunteer. [I know people who a few years ago said they just didn't know what their purpose in life was. They got out there, found something that made them happy - like what's listed above, and just WENT for it!] It may take a while, but just like building any strong, healthy relationship, it takes time. So don't expect something immediate. It's just little baby steps. In time, you will find yourself. And you will love yourself for exactly who you are.
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