Dear Youth
Comments 33

Idolization and the self

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11pm, late autumn, beach.

A lot of this is actually straight out of a journal entry from a little while ago. I scribbled it down at about 2 am in semi-darkness, a pair of jeans thrown over my lamp to soften the light, a bon iver record playing quietly in the background. I’ve tried to connect my disjointed thoughts as best I could, and I hope I’ve created something tangible, something that aids an exploration into yourself.

Inevitably, I’ve reached a point where I’m struggling with the idea of identity.

what is my identity

I think this has been spurred, in part, by throwing myself into all these big, new creative projects. The last few months I’ve opened my mind wide to the world, and in turn, I’ve been provided with this steady flow of thoughts and ideas. And because of this, I’ve just been creating a lot more, thinking a lot more, and a lot more attuned to myself and my surroundings.

I’m in a time of tumultuous change in my life. Starting a new year at school has removed me from the class and friends I’ve known for two years, and thrown me somewhere where I feel quite stranded and a little lonely. Re-adjusting is hard – I’m not really coping with the change well, and holding very tightly to the past, which has actually surprised me. A lot of things are shifting in my mind, and I feel different every day I wake up.

I’ve been turning to a lot of art and a lot of inspiring people to kind of keep pressing forward. But it’s reaching this point where I’m putting these people on a high pedestal, and idolising them unhealthily.

I’m losing touch with myself. I’m comparing my own life to perfected, filtered lives as shown on social media. I’m comparing myself to people nearly a decade older. I’m comparing my personality to theirs, my art to theirs, my decisions to theirs.

i'm losing red

I’m finding it difficult not to emanate them through my forms of creativity, difficult to have trust in myself, and difficult to find satisfaction in what I have and am doing. I’m so obsessed that I can’t be sure where myself begins and they end anymore. I feel like … people I don’t even know are controlling my life.

I’ve been spending more time alone. Journaling. Filming. Writing. Reading. Eating. Singing. Painting. Shutting off my paths of social media and trying new things.

Already, I think I feel myself shifting again. To a place where I can view others online more critically. Myself with more wholeness.

Right now, I think there’s a huge pressure to ‘find yourself’. I was just recently watching an interview with someone (I can’t remember who, unfortunately), where she talked about finding yourself as the most important first step to begin creating authentically. I disagree.

Find myself? I don’t think there’s anything to find. I don’t think there’s any definition of the self that can be put in to any language, any thought, any idea. What are you looking for, when you ‘search’ for yourself? A word? A feeling? Something you can sum up and convey to another person? We are so incredibly complex. How can you truly sum yourself up?

I used to have this idea that a definition of myself was something I could ground myself with, something I could find comfort in when I was unsure.


It’s not about defining yourself. You’re an entire person; you have moments of bliss and despair, hours alone and hours with friends. There’s a thousand different contradictory facets of yourself.

‘Finding yourself’ is about finding what you love. It’s doing what you love. It’s wearing what you want, speaking your mind, blasting your favourite music without any thought of it fitting into a genre or category. It’s staying home Friday nights, and partying away your Tuesdays. It’s you. It’s what you like. All the aspects of you can’t fit into a definition. You have to slide around on tiles in your socks and drink alone and wear the t-shirt you know no one else likes but you, and you’re going to look around and go: oh. This is me, this is what I’ve been looking for.

Here’s the thing: it’s not easily summed up and describe to someone else. Who am I? I’m mango smoothies and late nights watching Friends. I’m my home, my friends, my family. I’m the island I grew up on. I’m salt water and film cameras and embroidered skirts and the smell of jasmine, the smell of chlorine, the smell of petrol in the morning. I’m art, activism, feminism, a slight obsession with nudity, an inability to shut up, and an unfortunately strong ability to piss everyone off.

And – that won’t be me in a few months. It probably won’t be me in a few days. I’m ever-changing – everything and everyone around me is constantly inspiring, affecting and changing me.

find myself

You don’t need knowledge of yourself to be grounded. You’re grounded in the knowledge of what you love, value and believe in. For me: the ocean. The beautiful people surrounding me. Change. Creation. Art. Love.

The other day I came across another interview on YouTube. She spoke about her aversion to the idea of finding herself, and how it interfered with her creative process, because she would constantly try to make art that she thought ‘fit in’ with who she ‘was’. She talked about going with the flow and just doing what felt right as the key to unique creation, and I think that’s the secret, if there is one.

You are what you are attracted to, what you create, what you believe in – so just do what feels right. Stop questioning everything, stop wondering if so-and-so would do the same thing. If you like it – listen to it, wear it, watch it, read it, write about it, film it. That’s the only way to get in touch with yourself, to feel truly satisfied with where you’re going and what you’re doing, and to begin to access the creative flow that only YOU can access.

Try not to immerse yourself in the lives of others. Everyone is paying bills, everyone has shitty days, everyone gets frustrated and has doubts and heartbreak and creative blocks and no one’s really sure what they’re doing and everyone, everyone has to clean the toilet.

Just a little something to remember.

This was originally published in the first issue of The Restless Times, a youth-focused online newspaper exploring positivity, art, good news, reviews and more. 


  1. Pingback: The Person Behind: Sea Foaming – Questions From A Teenager

  2. Hi I’m just now seeing this and I don’t think I’ve ever related to anything so much before. I think my new life motto is “Find myself? I’d only get lost again.” I couldn’t have said it better, I don’t understand how you put so many concepts into words that I can barely process, only feel. Thank u for that :,) <3

  3. emily says

    why i’ve only discovered this now abigail i dont know but for what its worth,, this is now bookmarked and i have no doubts in my mind that i will be coming back to this every time i have an off day or feel like shit.
    you are a wonder to this world my girl,,
    you really are.

  4. Your writing is AMAZING! I read three of your articles so and this is my favourite! :) I found your TAG interview to be very professional and insightful. I am grateful that you “stumbled” upon my blog because it has given me the chance to enjoy your work! I can’t wait to read more… All my best!

  5. I really relate to this Abby. Tuning into our own heart and soul to find that which lights up the way for us is so important. As someone who spent a lot of my life feeling I didn’t have enough inside and looking towards others I now see that finding who I really was started with getting lost or realising I was. Some days I still feel lost but when I concentrate on connecting to something that lights up my soul and spirit I feel ‘found”. Love Deborah

  6. Wow! Beautifully written . I love the way you engage with the question of identity – I have definitely found myself trying to “find myself” over the years. And I couldn’t have said it better- we are ever-changing, at any given point we might “find” something different. Your post reminds me of a Toni Morrison quote I try to live by (in fact I have it written all over my apartment wall just to be sure I won’t forget) “If you surrender to the wind you can ride it.”

  7. Kelly says

    I must admit I copied a couple of paragraphs into my journal to look back on in the future, this resonates with me so much. (Never fear, I credited you – Id love to see where you’re at when I read it back in years to come). Thank you for sharing!

    • I think this is my absolute favourite comment to date, I can’t explain how much that meant to me. I’m so glad you connected with this so much, thank you xo

  8. Abby, remember that there is a difference between “losing yourself” and growing/changing. When you expose yourself into new situations you have to learn so much new things and then you try to adapt it to yourself and there’s nothing wrong if you’re someone completely different from who you were a month ago, in fact that’s good!
    Sending all the love x

  9. Daniela says

    Hello Abby, this is the first articule i read from this blog and i LOVED it, Keep creating, keep inspiring, thank you for every part of it, I really enjoyed it!! Greeting from Colombia.

  10. I wish I had read this when I was 17 years old, on the cusp of a terrible relationship and with an unfortunate habit of feeling so determined to “find myself” that I went down wrong streets and lost my mind along the way. But still, reading this at 22 has just as much impact. You write so gorgeously! This had me enthralled and nodding frantically at my computer when I agreed with all your points. Keep up the amazing work, I can’t wait to continue to read xo

    • I can’t even begin to tell you how much that meant, I’m so grateful you found so much in my words. thank you lovely xoxox

  11. Love reading your words!! I can really find myself in what you’re writing. It’s so easy to loose who you are not knowing what your ID is. I have struggled with this a lot the last couple years, but I think I am getting there :) When you’re creative it’s so easy to get lost of who you really are, and start to doubt everything you do! Love your blog! xx

    • I really agree – if you’re really creative, or constantly immersed in creative work, the self-doubt leaks into every other facet of your life, including your identity. Thank you so much for the lovely comment !! xo

  12. Abby, I love reading your words so much. I have been finding it hard to create lately. I feel like I am very influenced by others. I want to create new things but I just can’t figure out how to, because I am so wrapped up in other people’s art and creations. Finding my creativity and identity in terms of my art and everything in general is difficult, but your words have made me realize that I will never be defined. I need to just focus on being and creating what I want to create, and not on anyone else.

  13. this means so much more to me reading it now than when it was first published, just because my situation has changed so much – thank you for posting this here, I think I really needed it <3

  14. emma says

    I totally realize that I JUST commented on another one of your posts, but I have a really strong connection with this post. I am only fifteen, and originally I had created my blog to find myself, and figure out who I am. but after having the blog for a little bit, I figured out I was putting this overwhelming pressure on myself. no one is going to be able to find who they are just because they started a blog. so I started over. and I have been trying to do things that I love because all of those things are who I am, just like you said. I loved this post a lot, and I could really relate to it.

    • this is possibly one of my favourite comments ever, that meant so incredibly much to me, and I can’t explain how amazing it feels to know you connected so strongly with this, thank you lovely xo

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