There are times when losing yourself is beneficial — I would venture to say that it is a great thing to lose yourself in service of others. It can also lead to great things to lose yourself in your passion. Even losing yourself in work or an important task will often lead to successes and big accomplishments. And we all know that people can escape when they lose themselves in music.
But, there are definite times when you are told that you should not lose yourself — don’t lose your sanity, don’t lose your virginity, and don’t lose your values — these are just a few.
While I do agree that there are some things we should never want to lose such as our self-respect, our innate sense of right and wrong, and our compassion for others in this world; most of the time I actually do want to lose myself.
Here… I will break it down for you:
As a child: You must lose yourself in play. Fred Rogers described play as “the work of childhood”. Well, when you are a kid you should work hard and by that, I mean you should play hard. So much learning comes from play — learning about yourself, about other people, and about the world around you. “Play is a drive, a need, a brain-building must do” (Jeff A. Johnson and Denita Dinger).
As a teenager: You must lose yourself in extracurriculars. When we find extracurriculars that excite us, we begin to settle down some. Extracurriculars also provide great opportunities to meet people and make friends. Participation in extracurriculars also typically promotes one’s health and well-being, physically, mentally, and/or emotionally.
As an early adult: You must lose yourself in your greatest pleasures. Now, you mind-in-the-gutter dwellers, that is not the pleasure I am talking about. What I mean here is that now is the time when passions are being discovered. As an early adult, you typically don’t have too much professional or financial responsibility yet. Take your time at this stage to figure out who you want to be and what you want to do.
In college: You must lose yourself in your studies and/or your talents. Now that you are at least making attempts to figure out who you want to be and what you want to do, work hard to develop trust in your decisions and in your self-forecasted path. While in college, this is the time to figure out your dreams and vocalize to others what they are.
In the real-world: You must lose yourself in service — to your boss, to your clients, or to the community of people who you serve. At this stage of your life, it is super important to be the best version of yourself and to always be putting forth your best effort in all that you do, whatever that may be.
In Marriage: You must lose yourself in the raw moments — the good ones and the bad ones — as you need both to create and maintain a strong bond. I am of the opinion that some marriages fail because one or both partners begin to ignore life’s everyday moments. Don’t do this.
In Parenthood: You must lose yourself in your love for your kids. There are those that say you need to make sure you don’t lose who you are when you become a parent, but for a lot of us, becoming and being a parent is what makes us who we are — without our children, we couldn’t be — at least I couldn’t…
In the end…it’s kind of confusing…but I think that you have to lose yourself, to really find yourself — at least that was the case (and remains to be) for me.
Every stage of life brings with it its own challenges and triumphs, but more than anything, its own lessons. As much as we try to hold on to who we believe we are throughout our life, it is actually through our life and its journey, our experiences — the good and the bad, and the people who affect us — that turn us into who we are today and who we are meant to be.
So… the next time your feel “lost” or you feel a need to pull back from “losing yourself” in something, someone, or some phase of your life — give in, as long as what you are giving in to is not unhealthy.
After that, well, you can rest assured in knowing that when you lose yourself, all you are really doing is helping yourself find yourself — an improved, more genuine, and natural version of yourself.