Change is constant and there are some changes we seek, creating a sense of adventure and fulfilling desires. But some changes are involuntary, running deep and cutting to the core of our identity. These kind of changes leave us questioning the meaning of our lives and the purpose of our existence.
Identity change of this nature can feel dark and dramatic, almost like a breakdown, and is known as an existential crisis. The word crisis comes with negative connotations, but the true meaning of the word crisis is:
“vitally important or decisive state of things, point at which change must come, for better or worse”.
The experience will be different for each person, but if you are having a breakdown of your identity you might experience some of the following:
- It feels like you are shedding your skin
- Who you thought you were is no longer who you are
- You don’t quite ‘fit’ yourself any more
- Your energy levels and appetite for life are lower than usual
- You find yourself thinking very deeply about life
- You are restless at night
- Key friendships or relationships are unexpectedly ending
- You wonder what life is really about
- The importance you place on money and ‘things’ has altered
- Your clarity of purpose has dissolved
- What you value is changing
- How you want to live is different than it has been so far
- You wonder if we really exist at all
- You question the point of being human
- You ask ‘why?’ knowing there is no answer
- You know that you no longer belong where you are, but don’t know where else to be
This is a lot, but don’t fear it. When a snake sheds its skin it first has to outgrow itself. Expanding, stretching, transforming until the current place is squeezed unbearably tightly. We often translate discomfort into the idea that something is wrong, but the discomfort you feel is leading you to transformation – if you let it.
Even though you feel weary and disorientated now, and I realise it will be hard to imagine this, you are becoming more capable, more aware, more evolved. This is a turning point, a time when you are starting to find yourself, your true self. From this new place you will define the your own life through the choices you make.
For now, there is nothing you need to do. Let it take the time it takes. Eventually Nature will have her way and, like the snake, you will emerge, free once again…
PS if you want to understand more about the term Existential Crisis, the School Of Life have a video which you can access here.