How Most Adults Lose Their Sense of Self

Gabrielle Lowery
Staff Writer

Most American adults have established a “work is life” mentality, often drifting into careers that don’t align with their passions. This is generally caused by getting caught up and lost within the competitive, fast-paced and achievement-oriented society that they live in. With so much focus on work and the future, are adults losing their sense of self? Do people still find time for their passions?

For many years, it’s seemed that adults often want to hit rewind, while children and teens try to fast forward. With curious minds, children see the world with inquisitive eyes. Adults, on the other hand, follow and live by the rules of society to the point where they get lost within them.

Though many people have created their self-concepts, from a philosophical standpoint, it has been viewed as a bundle of perceptions. The way we perceive ourselves and others usually determine our character, or “self.”

From the time we are born, our characters begin to be molded by our experiences. Somewhere along the way, the world impacts us in a way that causes most adults to lose imagination, creativity, interests and they inevitably fall into a habitual lifestyle. 

According to Dr. Matthew Zawadzki, an associate professor in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities & Arts at the University of California, “It’s very much a Western attitude; we have a hard time taking the permission to take care of ourselves, to do little things that we enjoy. We think we have to work all the time.”

With no doubt, our media and news obsessed culture has had a huge impact on the way we perceive the world. With constant bickering between political leaders, images of violence, destruction and negativity, it’s no wonder adults get caught up in weariness and fear of the world outside of their habitual lifestyles.  

The loss of interest, creativity and imagination combined with constant working and a routined lifestyle has become the case for most adults. Unfortunately, this aids in our self-concepts because we tend to become the things we do and believe. 

So many people forget to just live in the present moment as we once did as children. Though adulthood means assuming responsibility, it shouldn’t mean forgetting who you are.

In a nation that has a false perception of structure and has created a plethora of socially constructed beliefs, ideals and mannerisms, I believe it’s acceptable to take a step back and analyze who you truly are versus what society has created you to be.

Taking a moment for self-reflection is necessary and often involves removing yourself from your current position. This means turning off your phone and the television, taking time away from what’s become habitual and finding time for your passions.

As a college student, I’ve found the more responsibility, classes, work and other extracurricular activities I take on, the less time I have for some of the things I am most passionate about. However, I wholeheartedly believe it’s important to stay attuned with the concept of self and remove conditions that may cause us to carry false perceptions of who we truly are.

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