College was a good time for me, but something happened when college wasn’t the center of my life anymore: It was like I woke up and didn’t know who I was. Change is hard, and I almost lost myself trying to adjust to my new situation in some unhealthy ways.

Have you ever felt like you were losing your identity?

Author Anne-Marie Alger defines “identity” as “a group of attributes, qualities and values that define how we view ourselves, and how others may also view us.” Identity involves the labels we place on ourselves, the activities we do or even the places we work. But what happens when we let those labels take over our whole lives? We get consumed by one attribute or quality, and then we begin to lose the rest of ourselves. What happens if we are stripped of that one quality or attribute that we strongly identified ourselves with? A guest on Oprah’s podcast Food For Thought said it this way: “We lose ourselves because we are betraying ourselves in some way.” Now that’s food for thought!

For my entire life, people have viewed me as upbeat and very social. But then adulthood hit me after college graduation and I was not ready. I’ve always had people around me, but I wasn’t nearly as social the last semester of school and after graduation because “adulting” required me to be alone more.

Seeing less people and having fewer social interactions caused my moods to change and I was not the upbeat and social Akeyla that everyone knew. My friends and I had to work, so our relationships felt like they were changing in a negative way. We were too busy to connect with each other. I noticed I was changing, and my energy was so different. I felt depressed because my social life wasn’t as full as it had been. And I began to hate that my social life dictated my feelings and mood.

Recently, something hit me while I was teaching at a summer camp. I began to realize that I had let my social life become my identity. This realization helped to change my perspective and as a result, my relationships with my friends and family began to improve. Moving into adulthood, I now know can have faith and confidence in myself, my talents and my abilities.

Here are some tips to remember when you feel like you’re losing your identity:

  • The most important relationship you have is with yourself! Knowing who you are will make it easier to seek help if you begin to lose yourself.
  • Remember to invest in yourself. Alone time can be the best time!
  • You don’t have to build your life around socializing, but there are lots of ways to keep in touch with your friends. The older I get, the more I realize that people are just busy. We can’t be around each other 24/7 but we can still keep in touch.
  • Stay connected with your family. They are your biggest supporters. And guess what? They know you the best! They will probably notice any changes before you do. For example, my Nana noticed the changes in me first.
  • Change isn’t necessarily a bad thing, so get used to it. Find healthy ways to deal with it since it will be happening for the rest of your life!
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