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Why I Gave Up Finding Myself (real story)

smiling blonde standing in denim jacket

I’ve spent much of my adult life trying to “find myself.”

Isn’t that what we were supposed to do? To find our “true selves” and live it out?

Unconsciously I believed that finding myself would fill an underlying void that would magically bring me everything my soul longed for. So, of course, I went in search of it.

The same happens in the health space. Believing that achieving results will bring everything we longed to feel. And it was the desire to feel a certain way that made me search for the real Alexa. Or at least find the perfect system that would help transform me into that perfect version that the world told me existed.

I wanted to be someone. I longed for it. And I thought that if I could find her, I would arrive.

Looking back, I’m not sure I was looking for a better life, but rather to escape the underlying feelings that kept me stuck, afraid, and unsure of everything. I was looking to escape the feeling that I would never be enough.

Of course, there were things I wanted to change, things I even hated about myself, like the fact that I couldn’t seem to be positive if my life depended on it.

But even then, I could mask those things. I could morph into who I needed to be. I could become like a chameleon in the world, fitting into my surroundings as if no one knew the difference.

On the surface, it appeared like I had it all together. That life was going well and looking back, it wasn’t as bad as I presumed it to be.

But that happens when we live our lives searching for something more, we miss that life right now is not that bad.

If you’ve ever walked the walk of trying to fix yourself, then you know there are approximately one million books that promise to help unmask you. I read what felt like 10,000 of those books before concluding that I was a mess.

No amount of any behavior modification was about to make me feel like me. Confidence was not in my foreseeable future. But what I wanted to have was more than confidence, it was safety.

The certainty that everything was going to be okay, even when nothing felt okay. Which I believed would bring me the freedom to open up to who I was. To own myself.

But the more I looked for her, the more insecurity crept in and kept me hiding. The very thing I was looking for felt further and further away.

So I signed up for therapy (still one of my best decisions). I believed that if I could uncover some hidden pain and trauma from my past that had turned me into the person I hated, then I could move forward. 

But what I learned was quite the opposite. It’s not what’s been done that’s held me back.

It’s the belief that who I am is not who I should be that’s stopped me from seeing myself.

I was chasing perfection in a broken world where it never would exist.

At my core, I believed the drive to find myself would bring me what I really wanted. The safety and certainty that would allow me to live. I wanted to know that it was okay to be at home in my body. To be accepted for who I am. I wanted the basic desires every human wants, to be seen, known, and loved.

The truth is, there is no finding yourself. And believing that is just one big distraction from doing the thing that makes this all come full circle. That is seeing yourself.

And seeing everything you’ve gone through not as things that have pulled you from yourself but things that have made you, you.

Your past has made you, not taken you.

Of course, it’s not as gushy as thirteen perfect steps to finding a new you. Owning your past and who you are, all of you is not what you want to hear. But it is what you need to hear.

Because it’s here, it’s coming back to see yourself that you can home to find that the solution is not in chasing external things. But in understanding that we’re all broken and imperfect. And surrendering this brokenness to one who is perfect allows us to live loved. 

I was looking for a perfect me, the one I thought would be accepted. But I learned the only way to feel accepted is to acknowledge yourself in the darkest places. To own the deepest pains, your biggest weakness, and recognize that you cannot do this on your own. 

I realized that finding myself was actually coming to terms with my brokenness and resting in God’s grace.

Perfection was never the goal, this side of eternity.

In some way, we’re all broken and need fixed. And we’re not just broken once, but life is a sea of brokenness and pain, hardship and uncertainty. And finding myself or a perfect version of myself would not magically make life easy, safe, and comfortable.

But God, He is the perfect solution to our broken lives. Living true to myself was not in finding myself but living an identity founded in hope. This was the place that allowed me to unmask and see that our imperfection makes us human and His perfection makes us whole.

God didn’t put me on earth to chase the identity of someone else. He planted me here to live my identity in Him and use that to transform someone else.

The truth is, we will always be imperfect – that is human nature. Insecurity and uncertainty are a daily part of life. But rather than letting that control us, in God, we have the advantage to rest in His security. 

Today I believe you are doing the best with what you have, as am I. And each day, we realize that living true to ourselves is acknowledging our imperfection and surrendering it to one who is perfect.

This is the place we can start to see growth in things that matter. Things that help us become a little bit better every day while still living every day.

Now I recognize that the insecurity I lived life trying to avoid was the very thing that made me desperate and dependent on a savior. Two words that sound weak and yet two things that brought me to my knees opening me up to receive life.

The very things we fear can become the things that lead to our greatest strength and create a life well-lived.

So I’ve put away the self-help books. I stopped looking for the perfect plan. And I found that when I stopped searching for some unknown version of myself, I stopped fighting myself, and I was finally able to take a deep breath. 

In all of my brokenness, I come home to my body and surrender my life to God. And in that, I’ve lived more life. I’ve accomplished more things. I’ve found more joy. I’ve experienced more growth.

And I found all of the feelings I was searching for in a world that never existed.

You don’t have to keep searching. You just have to come home to your brokenness and realize that your imperfection will never be enough. But we have the privilege of surrendering to the one who is enough, and in that, we can begin to live.

Making our weaknesses our advantage.

And our insecurity our confidence.

Because God is enough, and that makes us enough. 

God is enough and because of that we get to find fulness of joy in him.

Building habits of joy can be difficult if its not our first instinct or if we are struggling with pain or hardships.

Check out this post all about building habits of joy.

  1. Lauren S says:

    But God! Love this! This spoke to me so much. Once we stop running from our brokenness we see that’s right where He meets us. No perfection needed. Thank you for sharing!

    • Alexa Schirm says:

      YES! I’m so glad you loved it! It’s a daily wrestle, but so freeing! It has made such a difference in my life – to see outside of my brokenness and into something so much more!

  2. Savannah says:

    What you said resonates so strongly with me, Alexa. Your closing line immediately reminds me of a song my family has been singing a lot lately. It concludes, “He’s your defense, your joy, your rest. When terrors rise and nations faint, God is the strength of every saint.” His whole almighty strength is for us…and in him, we can be quiet and whole, even in, as you described it, a sea of brokenness….

    I’m looking forward to more from The Living Well! 🙂

  3. Charotte says:

    Excellently written and something many of us have dealt with for years. All answers to our daily problems can be found by our faith, trust, and obedience to our Lord and Savior.

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