Who am I and what is my place in the world?
If you follow me on Twitter, or on my second Instagram, you may have seen me pondering the light and breezy topic of the human need to know who we are, and what are place in the world is. After spending the majority of my recent holiday in Devon tangled up in thoughts of this nature, and the feelings of uncertainty and insecurity attached to them, I started to wonder if there was more to them than the big questions themselves.
Alongside this, I found myself repeatedly thinking back to when I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic, and the one idea that stuck with me the most; the notion that when the universe delivers an idea to you, you need to grab it with both hands and do your best to work on it as soon as possible. Otherwise the idea will be lost and perhaps be passed into someone else’s conscious.
Whilst this wasn’t my first time at the rodeo, as similar concerns have bubbled intermittently in my mind since childhood, there was something about this time that felt different. Rather than be consumed by searching for a purpose, I wondered if needed to be more objective and explore this line of thinking instead. It was worth a go, right?
In Big Magic fashion, and with no time to waste, my overflow of thinking led me to Twitter - with the goal of quizzing the internet:
Watching the results come in and learning that I wasn’t alone in my concerns was, first and foremost, wildly reassuring. Through living with mental illness, I have grown to learn that no one is ever the only person to go through something... Yet, being able to watch the responses pop up in real time, and see others confirm that they were also experiencing these thoughts and were unsure of their place too, stopped me from viewing it as a problem and confirmed the need to delve deeper. Especially when I could see how many others it was making unhappy.
The only time before this that I had seen and heard others fretting about who they were, where they were going in life, and what their place in the world is, was during conversations with friends or in dramatised formats. Think coming of age films or books. I hadn’t ever witnessed anything on a larger scale - like popular articles, non-fictional books or psychological studies. Nothing that offered an understanding of why we may experience a pull to know who we are and our place in the world, and why these thoughts can trouble us so much.
I have a huge interest in people, and how we work, and this feels like the perfect nugget of our existence that I’d like to study. I want to know why this impacts our self worth, happiness, mental health, security in ourselves, and so on. I want to know how these worries cause anxiety and affect our lives in seemingly unlinked ways. I want to be able to succinctly explain why knowing who we are and what our place in the world can be so important to us.
Admittedly, I’m not entirely sure where to start, but I know this isn’t something I can do on my own. I need your help! To give me some indication of where to go next, I’ve set up a survey on Survey Monkey, titled “Who am I and what is my place in the world? - Exploring related thoughts and feelings”. I’d love to get 100 responses to really get the ball rolling, so if you have a spare 4-5 minutes to tick some boxes and write some words on this subject, I would be super, mega grateful. Oh, and bonus points to anyone who shares this with your friends and family too.
Have you ever experienced thoughts of this nature? Let me know in a comment below.