it’s difficult realizing that you have no idea who you are anymore.
that for the past however many years of your life, you’ve been basing your self-worth in grades and studying; in what was perceived as more academic, in what you thought was expected of you and what you thought you needed to do to succeed. seeking self-validation, confidence and security in friendships, in the way you thought other people viewed you; until maybe you thought you felt comfortable having achieved all that you thought you should. getting those exam results, getting into that uni course. but of course you were never satisfied deep down, still that sense of anxiety managed to worm it’s way back as time went on and exams began to encroach again; you began seeking validation in other aspects of your life, in your ‘health’ and in your fitness, in your physical appearance. seeking control over the chaos around you, when ironically, everything was spiraling out of control. you convinced yourself it was normal, that it was ‘exam stress’, that soon this period would be over. and of course, there were long periods of time, like the summer, or the holidays, where it felt over. or even for short periods of time - nights out, or fun events, when you felt almost at peace. where you might have appeared care-free, happy, living the kind of balanced life you had convinced yourself you were.
coming to terms with the fact that everything you thought you were passionate about, the goals you had set yourself for the future, the career path you thought you were going to take might not be genuine - something you’ve convinced yourself are your interests over time, or something you subconsciously thought was expected of you but deep down, doesn’t make you happy, is fucking scary. realizing that there are thoughts and desires that aren’t actually what you believe to be yours deep down, thoughts that are unhealthy and not in your best interest - and then beginning to recognize that but not have complete control over them yet is terrifying. going from thinking you had such a clear idea of the future to realizing you have no idea who you are or what you actually enjoy leaves you feeling empty, worthless. it leaves you in a strange limbo with no sense of direction, no future ideas ahead.
but like with everything, there is a silver lining to this story. a way to twist it, to think about it all in a positive way. the yang to the yin. for however many years you’ve been living like this, you haven’t lost anything. it wasn’t a waste of time, as much as the anxiety keeps you away at night trying to tell you that you are, telling you that you need to be doing something, planning, achieving, figuring out your next step now that you’ve come to terms with all of this. take a step back. think about how much you’ve learnt, remember all of the incredible experiences and people you’ve met along the way. a few years, in the grand scheme of things, is really nothing. focus on the fact that you’re making these realizations now - some people go through their whole lives like this - not really living. this time has been given to you as an opportunity. an exciting time, where you can re-discover your true interests and take time to rekindle relationships with others, that may have grown distant as the battles within yourself got harder. most importantly, it’s time to grow your self-love - not based on what you’re achieving or what you look like; self-love, worth and validation for you, just being you.