How I Rediscover My True Self in Times of Need

Illustration by: Geraldine Sy

O ur relocation to Berlin ripped me out of the life I had back in my homeland. Berlin’s streets seemed endless and as if there were countless different strange areas. I would get lost while commuting to the city center. I did not have a job, I felt lost both physically and emotionally. With all these changes, I felt a fundamental change in the way I experience myself, the way I interact with the environment and generally everything. I call this experience losing my “True-Self”.

True-self is the state one feels most comfortable with oneself, with the goals and achievements one has. It’s that feeling when you have a clear vision of yourself. It’s the way you perceive the world and act by it. It’s when the way the world works makes sense to you, like all the pieces fit together. It’s when your actions generate expected results; when both the path you walk on and the progress you make are clear. This is not about setting short-term goals, like deciding on your salary range or how long do you want to commute to work each day. Your true-self revolves around your core values and how you experience yourself in relation to your environment.

When my true-self is lost, it’s hard for me to solve problems and act rationally, to make decisions and stick to them. It was very difficult for me to be able to move forward and to have a clear sight of my path both professionally and emotionally.

The worst part of this process was that I actually started to question my own self-value. Suddenly the things that I was most proud of, my skills, my mind, my career, they all seemed like it could drift away — and it scared me. So there I was again, wandering the streets of Berlin, feeling insecure, with no one to talk to about my struggles and with no one to alleviate the pain. I kept asking myself:

“How am I going to succeed here?“
“What should I do next?”

I had my partner with me but what I went through had nothing to do with him or our relationship. I knew it was about me, I knew I was the one who needed to figure it all out.

My Struggles Were Real

For me, sports is a great way to restart my mind and relieve some tension. Since We moved to Berlin in the summer, I went for walks in the parks around my home. I started riding the bicycle. Two to three times a week, just to get my mind out of the clutter. During that time, I was still job hunting, with two to three interviews a week.

Now, if you don’t know the German recruiting system, let me tell you — it is a long journey! There are at least five steps in the process. It also includes serious tests. In my field HRs asked me to create an entire marketing strategy for the companies I was interviewing for, in three days.

It was very tough, and I was anxious and tired. I felt like the job hunt was never going to end, and it really got me depressed. So going outside, moving my body and allowing myself to breathe with the green nice scenery, really helped me out. It kept me grounded in times I felt like the earth was cracking beneath my feet.

“ You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”– Maya Angelou

The Journey to Myself

Illustration by: Diana Stoyanova

I knew I didn’t plan to come to Berlin to lose myself or to break. I needed to explain myself what I am doing here, what are my goals and what is the purpose of this whole experience. This is what helped me figure myself out:

1. Acknowledge and accept how you are feeling. Don’t dismiss your feelings. Accept the situation and don’t judge yourself. Denying your feelings will only lead you to aimless inner struggles. Instead, try to just accept the situation and remind yourself it’s ok to feel like that.

2. Be kind to yourself, have compassion. It’s really important that you would allow yourself the space and time needed to figure yourself out again. Although you may feel your circumstances are out of your control, you can still control how you react to them. You can try participating in soothing activities like yoga or meditation to help you balance your feelings out.

3. Reflect on your values. Find a time to be alone, relax and have a very close look at yourself. Then write down your list of beliefs. Your values will guide you and serve as both a moral and a practical compass. Ask yourself:

  • What matters to you?
  • How do I want my day-to-day look?
  • How much time do I want to dedicate to myself? To work?
  • What kind of activities that are not work-related are most important for me?
  • What kind of people do I want to spend time with?

once you have a better understanding of your values and beliefs, your decisions and actions might be more in line with your true-self.

4. Setting limits. Setting one’s own limits is a very important lesson before you go on and figure how you wish to proceed. Know what you are not willing to compromise on. Figure out where your line crosses, where do you say “enough”. Remember, true-self revolves around your core moral values and ideas.

5. Setting up priorities. Now that you have your values written down, it’s time to prioritize them and turning them into actions. For some people it could be: slowing down their way of living, changing their career or starting something new in their life.

6. Be in constant dialog with yourself. In order to not get even more lost, stay really close to yourself and don’t force yourself to do things you don’t want to do or you don’t believe in. Ask yourself, what’s really bothering you? How can you change it? I didn’t listen to myself and it only hurt me. I forced myself to continue interviewing for jobs I wasn’t really interested in that eventually I did not get, resulting only in me losing my self esteem and less prepared for the next interview.

Embrace Yourself

Even in tough situations, remind yourself of who you are. Remember your previous struggles and how you achieved your goals after all. Be grateful for what you do have, and try to live as much as possible in the moment. It’s tough, but you will get to where you want to be. Trust in your True-Self and you will be on the right course!