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How to Find Yourself if You’re Feeling Lost

Aug 1 2016

by Kate Spears

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Vintage photo camera and old photos.
Old journals and photos are reminders of past adventures and mischief that can help you reconnect with your core self.

Life goes by in a flash. From birth to wherever you happen to be right now, you’ve changed in a million different ways. Do you ever look in the mirror and see a face you don’t recognize staring back? Do you ever find yourself making a choice that doesn’t quite feel like something you ever imagined you would do?

Change is a good thing, and it’s totally unavoidable. But some changes aren’t for the better. Do you ever feel like in the midst of the hustle and bustle of your obligations, commitments and schedule, you’ve lost a small (or large) part of yourself? I think it’s pretty common, and it’s definitely something I struggle with some of the time. I find myself doing or saying something and thinking “who is this person with my body and voice?”

If you’re feeling like you’ve lost yourself because you aren’t sure who you are anymore, maybe it’s time for some soul searching. But just where to look? Here are a few places I recommend.

Old journals. 

Sometimes the way we’ve bared our hearts and souls in years passed can be a window into who we really are. I started my first journal in the first grade and haven’t looked back since — chronicling every awkward phase, every crush, and most every hope and fear I ever had. Even though many of the entries over the year are cringe-worthy, they help paint for me a picture of the person I’ve always been.

If you don’t have journals to look back to, think about a time in your life when you were really struggling and things worked out for the best. What kinds of things did you feel, think and say during that period? What felt true to you? Chances are, if something felt true and authentic during a challenging period in the past, it may be true again now.

Letters from friends.

I don’t know about you but I’m a saver of letters. Especially now in the digital age. It’s so special to me to look back through cards and letters from grandparents and people in my life who are no longer with us. I love to see their handwriting and read their words. I love to think about a moment in time, when they stopped what they were doing to write a few words to me because I was on their mind.

Sometimes the people in life who love us the most are the ones who see us the most clearly. Look for yourself in their words and sentiments. You will find something good.

Drawings you did of yourself as a child (or drawings done of you by a child).

We come to believe so many negative things about the way we look, and ultimately who we are. Sometimes it can be hard to look at our reflection with loving eyes. If this has happened to you, maybe it’s time to revisit another perspective….one of somebody who is looking at you with love. This may be the one seeing your truest self.

In the mirror first thing in the morning. 

There’s a certain magic about sleep. Not only does it rejuvenate and refresh you, it allows your body time to grow and heal. When you first wake up in the morning, and still have that little fog of sleepiness hanging over you, take a glance at yourself in the mirror. Try not to see your authentic self staring back.

So many times I stumble to the bathroom in the morning and catch a look at myself, all rumpled and frizzy hair. And I often catch a glimpse at my 8-year old self. I see the same eyes looking back at me. I see that same earnestness and hopefulness about the future as well as possibility. There’s no reason we can’t still have that same feeling of possibility.

It’s the world and the lies we’ve believed that have caused us to doubt that our dreams are possible.

Toys and games from childhood. 

Recently, I went down into my basement and ran across a plastic bin of Barbie dolls from when I was a kid. It immediately brought back a flood of good memories from all the times I spent playing with them.
Think about your childhood.

What was something you did as a kid that brought you a great amount of joy? Maybe your thing was playing with Barbies or maybe it was putting together puzzles. Maybe it was coloring or pretending you owned a store or running a cash register or playing like you had a restaurant.

I’m not saying that if you played restaurant as a child, you should start a restaurant now. But think back to the things that brought you the joy in those experiences and look for ways now that you can recreate those experiences and feelings.

The reason I loved the Barbies is because they let me create worlds and stories and characters and adventures in people’s lives when my own life didn’t have a whole lot of adventure to speak of.

And I think that it’s still a big part of why I feel the calling and passion in my heart to be a writer. Because I want to create those stories and tell them so other people can relate to them and feel encouraged.

Look at the mischief you made. 

Picture a time in your childhood when you got in trouble or were a little bit mischievous. There’s always a driving force behind those actions.

I remember one time as a child, I wanted to move some furniture in my bedroom. My mom said she would help me later, but I didn’t want to wait for her so I decided to try and do it by myself.

I ended up breaking a china tea set because I pushed a table and everything just kind of went flying. And my mom was upset with me, but looking back I remember feeling like I was so independent. I wanted so badly to do it by myself. I wanted to take care of things on my own and I still see that in myself today.

I still see that independence and that feeling of wanting to do it my way. But there’s a way I can harness that for good so that I don’t just go around breaking things and upsetting people.

If only finding ourselves was done with the aid of a giant treasure map, “X” marks the spot. But it’s a process more delicate and complicated than that.

Author Lucy Maude Montgomery said is best: “Nothing is ever really lost to us as long as we remember it.” If you’ve been feeling lost, I hope you can spend some time remembering soon.

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Kate Spears View More Blog Posts from this Author

Kate Spears is a self-proclaimed Southern belle who grew up in a tiny town near Nashville, but now calls Knoxville home. She graduated from the University of Tennessee (Big Orange Country!) with an undergraduate degree in art history and a master’s in public relations & advertising. In 2009, she started her blog, Southern Belle Simple, with the simple hope of giving herself a creative outlet. She continues to be amazed each time it leads to a new opportunity and cherishes the relationships that are formed along the way.

Kate is passionate about family history, time-honored traditions, and her Southern heritage. Her people hail from across the South, from the Lone Star State of Texas to the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. She grew up spending summers on her great-grandparents’ Tennessee farm where she developed a deep appreciation and admiration for people who could coax beautiful and delicious things out of a mound of dirt. She comes from faithful men, devoted women, hard workers and wickedly good cooks.

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