How Can You Find Yourself Again?
Do you feel like you lost yourself? It’s very common in middle age to realize that you are disconnected from your inner self.
Middle age can be a difficult time for many women. Suddenly it feels like life is keeping score of your wins and losses. You might slow down to take stock of where you are, who you’re becoming, and what kind of life you want to live going forward.
It can be an exciting time too, but it is essential to find yourself again if you’ve lost your way in life or simply feel stuck in a rut.
Feeling Lost In Life At 50
For me, turning 50 was a time of big changes. My 50th birthday ushered in a new season of reflection and self-growth. But first, I had to understand my own feelings about aging and changes in my identity.
Maybe you are a midlife woman who is struggling to find herself again. Despite decades of adulting, it is so easy to get disconnected from our hopes and dreams. Often our true feelings are buried under a mountain of responsibilities and routine.
Do You Really Want To Find Your Old Self?
Where are my Journey fans at?
Remember the song “Faithfully”? Sung by Steve Perry, and written by Jonathan Cain, it is a ballad about lovers being separated and then reunited. The second verse of the song is about the process of being together again after a long separation.
And being apart ain’t easy on this love affair
Two strangers learn to fall in love again
I get the joy of rediscovering you
Oh, girl, you stand by me I’m forever yours
Journey (1983) Faithfully. Frontiers.
There is a lyric in those lines that is so truthful and poignant for many of us, but for me, it is not about a long-missed lover. Rather it speaks directly to the heart of self-knowledge and to the idea that we lost ourselves somewhere along the journey to midlife.
“Two strangers learn to fall in love again -I get the joy of rediscovering you”
The idea that we will become many different women in our lifetime is absolutely true. To be alive is to grow and change. Each year should find us with new skills, knowledge, and a variety pack of new ideas.
How To Get To Know Yourself Again
For many midlife women, we gradually realize that we are strangers to ourselves. Emotionally, intellectually and physically, we have lost touch with the early passions and energies that we carried into early adulthood.
Talk to enough midlife women, and you will begin to hear similar stories. The idea is that starting in their teens, some women began to choose a pattern of self-abandonment. At first, it is purely a coping mechanism, one that soothes family feathers and helps the young girl stay connected to her place in the family structure.
But so often we mistake learned behaviors as personality traits. Taught how to blend and survive in the childhood family dynamic, many of us age with the urge to accommodate. To choose against our needs and wants in an effort to stay connected and safe in the group.
Often, we enter adult relationships and marriage with self-abandonment as our operating system, compounded by religious beliefs, cultural expectations, and broken adult role models.
Looking To Find Your True Self Again?
Self-sacrifice becomes the rule for many of us, not the exception. And if we choose a partner who has little concern for our personal development, we can be locked in a terrible tango of guilt and longing.
And as the decades pass by, we begin to wonder how to find ourselves again. For many women, an empty nest can be the spark for a midlife identity crisis.
Finding Yourself After Motherhood
Being a mother is one of the most rewarding experiences a woman can have. As much as it brings joy and fulfillment, raising children can also be demanding, both physically and mentally. From the moment you become a mother, your life is no longer just about you.
The needs of your children and family become a top priority. However, when these children grow up and start their own lives, many women are left feeling lonely and lost.
Loss of Purpose
For many mothers, raising their children was their purpose in life. They focused all their energy, time, and resources on taking care of their families. Unfortunately, when their children grow up, they may feel like their sense of purpose has vanished, and they are left with little to do.
It can get worse if you are retiring from the workplace. Leaving a job might mean we are suddenly without real goals or directions in life. This loss of purpose may cause a lot of stress and anxiety in women who might start to feel like they are living their lives with no real purpose.
Loss of Identity
For many women, their identity becomes tied to their roles as mothers. They become “Mom” instead of being themselves. When their children grow up and move away, they might feel lost and unsure of who they are or what they want. They may struggle to find a new identity outside of their role as mothers, which can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Empty Nest Syndrome
Empty Nest Syndrome is a phenomenon that affects many parents when their children grow up and leave home. It refers to the feelings of sadness, loneliness, and grief that some parents experience when their children leave the nest.
This syndrome can be particularly challenging for mothers who have spent most of their adult lives taking care of their children. The silence and emptiness left behind can be overwhelming and cause a range of emotions.
Lack of Social Connection
Another reason why women feel lonely after their children grow up is the loss of social connections. For many women, their friendships were tied to their children’s lives – playdates, school events, sports teams, etc.
When their children leave home, these connections may fade away. Additionally, women who devoted most of their adult lives to their children may have never built strong social networks outside of their families. This lack of social support and connection can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Aging is a natural process that comes with its own set of challenges. Growing old involves health problems, mobility issues, and losing loved ones. For women who feel lonely and lost after their children leave home, aging can exacerbate these feelings. They may feel like they are no longer needed or have anything to offer the world.
Tips On How To Find Yourself
So, how do we find our way back? What should a midlife woman do to reconnect with her earlier, forgotten self? As a relationship coach, I work with women who are looking for help when their identity shifts. I share these ideas with my clients to help them begin their journey of rediscovery.
Go back to the beginning– With intention, spend some time remembering who you were in your early teens. Dig up your old diaries, flip through the long-forgotten yearbooks, take some time, and research yourself.
There is a growing body of evidence indicating that most women knew themselves (likes, dislikes, abilities, and skills) reasonably well early in life. They didn’t have the maturity to fully operate in those things, but they knew what they liked. We had a better idea of who were and had the potential to be before so many well-meaning people put the yoke of their needs and opinions on us.
Take some time out for yourself- carve out regular time just for yourself each week, even if it’s only an hour or two. Use that time to focus on something that brings joy and pleasure like reading or painting, taking a hot bath, or going for a walk in nature.
Try This To Help You Find Your True Self Again
Realize that you might have made decisions to ignore yourself and your needs- Our self-care trend is useful as far as it allows us time to reflect while wearing the face mask. While sipping wine in the bathtub, spend some time thinking about your patterns of self-abandonment behavior. This doesn’t have to be major life-defining moments.
Think about things like: How often do you agree to things to be a good sport? Yes, we all need to be team players, but if you find yourself frequently erasing your agenda to meet others’ demands, you might need to work on boundaries.
Make changes to your life- ask yourself what needs to change in order for you to feel more fulfilled and content. It could be anything from changing jobs, taking up a new hobby or sport, or even simply having a better relationship with yourself and your emotions.
Recognize Patterns Of Self-Abandonment And Change Them
Or maybe this sounds familiar: What was the last thing you wanted to do, but deleted from your schedule because it conflicted with the desires/needs of someone in your circle of influence? Again, this is not a license to be a detached loner, but a suggestion to consider that many women are habitually putting aside their desires and dreams to ensure others succeed in life.
Let go of perfectionism- try to stop striving for perfection in all areas of your life. Give yourself permission to make mistakes, learn from them and move on.
Connect Out Old Friends And Develop New Friendships
Ask for help– It’s okay to ask those close to you to help you discover the value in yourself. Maybe your group is a couple of close girlfriends who have known you since elementary school. They can remind you of the interests you had prior to becoming a full-fledged adult.
Reach out for help- don’t be afraid to ask for support if you need it. Talk to a trusted friend or family member, join a local group or online discussion forum related to the issue that’s causing you distress, or even look into getting counseling if it feels right for you.
At a minimum, old girlfriends can bring hilarious memories to the surface, providing a bit of stress relief to your day. While old friends are great, seeking out new friends will add depth to your self-awareness.
Find Some New Friendships In Midlife
It is a special gift to meet new friends midlife. The excitement of sharing new interests, and career pursuits and enjoying the benefits of meeting for a girl’s night out is a great way to add to your chosen community. Make a commitment to expand your friend base and explore new interests.
Connect with other women- it can be helpful to talk to other women who are around the same age as you. You may find that they are experiencing similar thoughts and feelings, which can bring comfort and understanding. Reach out online if need be, but also make time to meet up in person every once in a while too!
The truth about rediscovering yourself is that it is a journey, not a destination.
Decades have passed, and life circumstances have required us to grow up in some uncomfortable ways. We have been shaped by choices, both ours and those around us. But ultimately, it can be a journey of joy as a midlife woman chooses to find herself again.
Finding Myself After Motherhood
Women who feel lonely when their children grow up are not alone. There are so many reasons why this might happen, and it is important to recognize that these feelings can be challenging to deal with. However, it’s not all doom and gloom.
Empty nest moms can take proactive steps to combat these feelings, such as finding new hobbies, investing in relationships with friends, opening up emotionally, or seeking advice from a therapist. Remember, the end of the child-rearing phase can mark the beginning of a new life journey, one that can be just as fulfilling and rewarding.
You Can Find Yourself Again When You Feel Lost
Take some time and focus on self-discovery. There is magic in our memories. Give yourself permission to look in the rearview mirror of life. Trace out the path, consider the curves, forgive the speed bumps, and be grateful for the distance traveled. There is joy in rediscovering YOU.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to finding yourself again during the middle stages of life, so trust your gut and take it one step at a time. With a little patience and dedication, you can be well on your way to reclaiming your sense of self once more.
Don’t forget that this could also be a great opportunity to start anew, and begin living the life you’ve always wanted!
Melane Ann is a writer, blogger, and life coach. In 2020, she turned her experience in midlife divorce and creating a new life for herself into midlifeismagical. With a master's in Marriage and Family Therapy, Melane focuses on helping women over 50 navigate their relationships and commit to healthy aging. She and her new husband share 7 children between them. Melane jokes that she has a black belt in blended families! In addition to her writing, Melane works virtually with her coaching clients from her home office.