Stop trying to “find yourself”

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Stop trying to "find yourself"

I’ve noticed a trou­bling trend. When faced with adver­sity, set­backs or the like, a lot of peo­ple decide to go off and “find them­selves.” You’ve prob­a­bly heard it too. The vision you and I have is some­one trekking off into the woods for a month and then sud­denly emerg­ing as a “new man” or “reformed woman,” or some­thing like that.

Well, if you’re think­ing about doing this, let me tell you: it likely doesn’t work.

Let’s start with what should be obvi­ous: when you leave, every­one else’s life con­tin­ues on with­out you. I remem­ber the first time com­ing off a long deploy­ment and being shocked that peo­ple had grown, changed and done stuff while I was gone. I mean, I wasn’t there, you’re sup­posed to just freeze in place until I get back! When you’re gone, you lose that influ­ence, and even though you might change to fix one sit­u­a­tion, you will prob­a­bly come back to a totally new chal­leng­ing situation.

Another neg­a­tive is that while you might think you’ll come back all tri­umphant and reformed, most peo­ple prob­a­bly won’t notice your glo­ri­ous “return,” and even worse, will sim­ply be annoyed that you’re back. Think about it. From their per­spec­tive, you aban­doned them. They kept mov­ing for­ward and had to do it with­out you. Then sud­denly you come back and things are OK? After my deploy­ment, it took my wife a week to adjust to hav­ing me around again. Even some­thing stu­pid like me doing the laun­dry would annoy her, since it messed up her sched­ule. It sounds crass (why wouldn’t she be happy that I’m back? I’m even doing the laun­dry!!), but it’s a chal­lenge regardless.

Prob­a­bly my biggest argu­ment against find­ing your­self is that if you search and think long enough, you’ll real­ize that you’re a loser. It’s true. If you hold your­self up to the stan­dard in your head and really look close, you fall short. Every. Sin­gle. Time. Unless you’re some sort of nar­cis­sist, you’re not going to be happy with the per­son you find.

But in this neg­a­tive is a great pos­i­tive. Most peo­ple don’t hold you to that high stan­dard. Sure, some inter­net trolls and you’re annoy­ing mother-​in-​law might, but the peo­ple that mat­ter in your life are prob­a­bly OK with your actions and who you are most of the time. That high expec­ta­tion of your­self nor­mally gets you to improve over time, so it’s a good thing to keep. It’s just not meant to dwell on for too long.

Please don’t “find your­self.” It’s not like the movies. You aren’t the man in the arena. You are in fact cow­ardly run­ning away from your prob­lems. Instead, when you encounter prob­lems, sit down with those you love and build a plan to over­come it. Maybe it takes you a week­end or a retreat to fig­ure out, but pulling back from all human inter­ac­tion isn’t a healthy cop­ing mechanism.

Adver­sity is a team chal­lenge, not one to be faced alone.


This post rep­re­sents the views of the author and not those of the Depart­ment of Defense, Depart­ment of the Navy, or any other gov­ern­ment agency. It’s not aimed at any par­tic­u­lar per­son. I’ve known plenty of peo­ple that “find them­selves,” most often alone and in worse shape when they are done.

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I’ve noticed a troubling trend. When faced with adversity, setbacks or the like, a lot of people decide to go off and “find themselves.” You’ve probably heard it too. The vision you and I have is someone trekking off into the woods for a month and then suddenly emerging as a “new man” or “reformed woman,” or something like that.

Well, if you’re thinking about doing this, let me tell you: it likely doesn’t work.

Let’s start with what should be obvious: when you leave, everyone else’s life continues on without you. I remember the first time coming off a long deployment and being shocked that people had grown, changed and done stuff while I was gone. I mean, I wasn’t there, you’re supposed to just freeze in place until I get back! When you’re gone, you lose that influence, and even though you might change to fix one situation, you will probably come back to a totally new challenging situation.

Another negative is that while you might think you’ll come back all triumphant and reformed, most people probably won’t notice your glorious “return,” and even worse, will simply be annoyed that you’re back. Think about it. From their perspective, you abandoned them. They kept moving forward and had to do it without you. Then suddenly you come back and things are OK? After my deployment, it took my wife a week to adjust to having me around again. Even something stupid like me doing the laundry would annoy her, since it messed up her schedule. It sounds crass (why wouldn’t she be happy that I’m back? I’m even doing the laundry!!), but it’s a challenge regardless.

Probably my biggest argument against finding yourself is that if you search and think long enough, you’ll realize that you’re a loser. It’s true. If you hold yourself up to the standard in your head and really look close, you fall short. Every. Single. Time. Unless you’re some sort of narcissist, you’re not going to be happy with the person you find.

But in this negative is a great positive. Most people don’t hold you to that high standard. Sure, some internet trolls and you’re annoying mother-in-law might, but the people that matter in your life are probably OK with your actions and who you are most of the time. That high expectation of yourself normally gets you to improve over time, so it’s a good thing to keep. It’s just not meant to dwell on for too long.

Please don’t “find yourself.” It’s not like the movies. You aren’t the man in the arena. You are in fact cowardly running away from your problems. Instead, when you encounter problems, sit down with those you love and build a plan to overcome it. Maybe it takes you a weekend or a retreat to figure out, but pulling back from all human interaction isn’t a healthy coping mechanism.

Adversity is a team challenge, not one to be faced alone.


This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency. It’s not aimed at any particular person. I’ve known plenty of people that “find themselves,” most often alone and in worse shape when they are done.

Did you donate to Da Tech Guy?

Did you subscribe yet?

Choose a Subscription level
Hat : $20.00 USD – monthly
Cap : $10.00 USD – monthly
Beanie : $2.00 USD – weekly
Fedora : $25.00 USD – monthly
Grand Fedora : $100.00 USD – monthly

Or buy his book? Hail Mary the Perfect Protestant (and Catholic) Prayer

Because if not…what are you waiting for?