Photograph by Polina Podobedova
My problem is this: I don’t know myself.
I’m 15 and everyone around me has long ago discovered their sexuality, their interests, and callings yet I just have nothing. I have no clue about anything. And yes I know I’m still young but I don’t even know my sexuality yet, I always thought it would just be an answer there in your head one day but it’s like my brain is all fogged up and I can’t find my way through. Any advice on how to find yourself better would be amazing. Thank you so much.
Thanks for writing in to our advice forum! I’m sorry to hear you’re feeling a little lost right now. I have to say, I know the feeling! I’m 23 years old and I’m still getting to know myself!! As a matter of fact, I think it’s something I’ll be doing for the rest of my life! It can be a little scary, but once you change your mindset a little bit, possibilities open up and it can actually be a little exciting! Here are a few ways you could try to shift your perspective—I think it could really help.
- Know that everyone does NOT in fact have themselves all figured out. We often think everyone around us has everything all figured out, and so we should too. People are generally very good at coming off as composed to the rest of the world, even if they’re feeling like a mess inside. And it’s a funny conundrum, because when we see other people actually all put together, we want to act that way more ourselves, and it just exacerbates the problem in a little cycle. I guess my point is, while it may seem that everyone around you has everything figured out, I really, sincerely doubt that they have—especially at 15!! Your teen years are the years when you really are just starting to explore who you are and get to know yourself. Anyone who thinks they’ve discovered their callings and interests 100% at 15 is probably in for a surprise, whether it comes in 1, 2, 5, or 20 years!
- Try to take some pressure off, because trying to force yourself to find yourself won’t likely work too well. Be patient with and kind to yourself; remember that you are young, and that there is no right time, place, or way to discover anything about yourself, your sexuality included! Remember that we are all works in progress as humans, and constantly evolving.
- See if you can think of self-discovery as your greatest adventure. I think it’s actually a blessing to not be all figured out as a teen. When you don’t have super regimented ideas about how you are as a person, things can be pretty free and open. For example, if you build your identity at a young age around the idea that you are, say, incredibly timid, it may limit you from trying things that a timid person wouldn’t “typically” enjoy or like, like taking a new class in karate that you know nothing about or riding an intense rollercoaster with some of your “braver” friends, which would be a real bummer, because you may in fact be super into karate and rollercoasters! If you aren’t committed to a particular facet of your identity, it means you can explore! Take this time as a chance to explore any and everything that interests you, whether it’s trying out a cooking class, using a meditation app, or talking to a girl in your class that you’ve never met. I think that’s the best way to get to know yourself—experience and engage in life as much as you possibly can! You certainly won’t like it all or identify with everything, but every experience will add one more layer onto your identity and concept of self (even if it’s realizing that you never ever want to cook or talk to that girl again—that’s still one more thing you wouldn’t have known if you didn’t try). Self discovery can be so fun and exciting if we don’t take ourselves too seriously and let things unfold naturally.
- Start conceptualizing sexuality as something fluid. I so wish that kids were taught from a young age that sexuality is fluid and not strictly black and white, because it would make so many people’s lives much easier!!! There’s still a chance that a clear answer will pop into your head one day like you thought, and that’s certainly how it works for some people, but for many others, it’s something that develops over time as they gain experiences. And even then, it may not settle on something clear and “simple” like being strictly heterosexual. And that’s okay! Again, take some pressure off yourself. There’s no rush. As long as you are doing what feels good and right to you, and you’re treating the world and people around you with respect, it’s okay to have no idea where you stand in terms of your sexuality. You will gain clarity in time.
Take your time, enjoy your youth, and give yourself the love, respect, and validation you deserve. And if you figure out any awesome things about yourself (or ways to do it), be sure to let us know!
All the best,