Tables of Content

  • Exploring the True Meaning of Finding Yourself: Between Virtue and Hedonism
  • The Dangers of Hedonism in the Quest for Self-Discovery
  • People who are “finding themselves” are permanently lost and easy to control
  • Redefining “Finding Yourself”: Pursuing Authentic Self-Discovery
    • Reduce Your Comforts So You Can Find Yourself
  • Concluding Thoughts: Beyond the Myth of “Finding Yourself”
  • Taking Action: Practical Steps to Authentic Self-Discovery
    • Reading List

Exploring the True Meaning of Finding Yourself: Between Virtue and Hedonism

bar | bottles at a bar

You may be lost. However, you will never achieve self-discovery in vices and distractions.

The phrase “finding yourself” has two definitions. The socially acceptable definition means understanding who you are, including your values, beliefs, passions, and purpose in life. Often, this involves self-reflection, exploration of one’s thoughts and feelings, and the experiences that shape one’s identity.

The true definition of “finding yourself” is wasting one’s youth pursuing hedonistic pleasures. Most people “find themselves” in the bar or constant flings. No one ever “finds themselves” in a monastery, marriage, or other activities that require constant discipline, virtue, and awareness of others.

Overall, “finding oneself” leads to destructive behaviors that divert individuals, especially young women, from pursuing more virtuous and fulfilling paths.

Today, I want to explore the infamous phrase ‘finding yourself’ and the mindset behind self-discovery. First, we focus on self-discovery’s false premises and consequences. Next, we will examine the cultural impact on self-identity within our society, exploring how nihilistic and hedonistic tendencies shape our understanding of ourselves. Third, we will look at the illusion of freedom compared to the proper forms of self-discovery. Lastly, we will examine authentic ways of “finding yourself” by rising above the limits of modernity.

The Dangers of Hedonism in the Quest for Self-Discovery

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” – André Gide

For many, pursuing fun shows a love for hedonism. Of course, pleasures are necessary for a healthy, fulfilling life. However, few people have the self-control required to manage their pleasures.

Living a virtuous life reduces the “fun” one can have. Weak individuals do not like this. They are not honest about their desires for hedonism and distractions. They have to dress up such consumerism and selfishness in loftier terms.

Thus, they have to “find themselves.” Such finding always involves promiscuity, drug and alcohol use, overusing social media, overconsumption of resources, and engaging in distracting hobbies and experiences. People travel the world but never learn new languages. They spend time with friends but never discuss values. They “hook up” with a new person and never learn to love or care for someone else.

When we worship our whims, we lose the ability to delay gratification. When we can’t delay gratification, we cannot produce the long-term stability needed to create healthy societies and individuals.

Because “finding yourself” really means pursuing a life of distraction and vice, the phrase is a dangerous policy for the individual and society.

People who are “finding themselves” are permanently lost and easy to control

When we are “finding ourselves,” we admit to being lost. Not having clear direction at all moments is never a bad thing. However, when we refuse to attach ourselves to virtue, we can easily fall for tricks and distractions.

Hedonistic consumerists are easier to control. When a man defines himself by his things and vices, he ties himself to consumerism and hedonism. His identity is naturally limited and easily moved. He is defined by whatever makes him feel good at the moment, such as sex, drugs, alcohol, fun times, or other distractions. Any advertiser, loose woman, or generous government can easily buy his loyalty as he is “finding himself” in the new pleasures they offer him.

A society of individuals frequently “finding themselves” is a society of slaves. Our physical and mental health crises, poor finances, broken homes, and other dysfunctions show how far we’ve failed. We are a society of over-drugged, depressed, and powerless slaves. Surely, we should do more than just “find ourselves” in another pointless distraction.

Redefining “Finding Yourself”: Pursuing Authentic Self-Discovery

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” – Aristotle

People always “find themselves” in hedonism. We never champion a society where people achieve true freedom through discipline, virtue, and determination. We never tell young people to “find themselves” by becoming as skilled, patient, and wise as Booker T. Washington. We never promote entertainment that highlights how Maximillian Kolbe “found himself” by becoming a brother, a church leader, and eventually exchanging his life to save a good man.

Only through meaningful suffering can we “find ourselves” because, through this pain, we are challenged. Pleasures mask our true selves as they can distract our self-improvement while feeding into what we already enjoy. Meaningful suffering removes distractions, forcing us to contend with who we are and want to be.

For example, during exercise, you have to think about the pain you are enduring, why you wish to endure it, and the motivations you need to keep going. You must determine if being in better shape matters to you and why. You are examining yourself.

You cannot do this with pleasure or by “finding yourself.” For example, having sex with strangers always pleases your animalistic desire for sensual pleasure. You aren’t using your higher mind and certainly aren’t challenging yourself. You are pursuing what feels good without examining why you want to have sex with these people and what such activity is doing to you. You are lost in what is fleeting, and your mediocre life will reflect this.

Reduce Your Comforts So You Can Find Yourself

To truly “find yourself,” you must reduce your comforts. If you reject “finding yourself” in whims, you can create the individual who can rise above petty vices to achieve great things. Wouldn’t you want to “find yourself” in the various dreams and goals you’ve always had? Don’t you want to “find yourself” in a healthier body? Wouldn’t you want to “find yourself” in love with someone who cares for you and you care for them?

Secondly, you must reject the noise and whining of weak individuals. They are living on borrowed time. Their lives are full of failure, regret, medication, and distractions. You will live a more extraordinary life than theirs. You don’t have to wallow in their bars, enjoy their vices, and engage in their flings. Rise above by having a firm goal and a drive to accomplish it.

Lastly, focus on building a community of virtuous individuals. You can “find yourself” by serving others, especially good people. A life where you consume others and use them for your short-term gain isn’t a life of self-mastery or self-discovery. It is a life of nothingness. But a life where you support good people and they support you is a life of greatness and accomplishment as you will succeed at your virtuous ends and help others do the same.

Concluding Thoughts: Beyond the Myth of “Finding Yourself”

“Finding oneself” is a lie sold to people who want to elevate their hedonism.

The hedonist has a desire he wishes to fulfill. He knows that desire won’t stabilize him or his society, so he justifies it. Once he rationalizes his vices, he seeks to elevate them because the vice creates nothing that justifies its existence.

Therefore, reject the spirit of “finding yourself.” Become disciplined, focused, and virtuous. Find yourself in the struggles you overcome. Find yourself in the virtuous people you love, serve, and are loved by. Find yourself by becoming the best version of yourself, accomplishing great goals, and overcoming the vices that cause shame and fear.

Become An Individual and truly find yourself.

Taking Action: Practical Steps to Authentic Self-Discovery

A a statue of Socrates know thyself

To know oneself is the greatest achievement of all.

  1. Past Understandings: How have you defined “finding yourself?” Have you seen it as a rallying cry to be a hedonist? Or have you defined the phrase as seeking true wisdom and self-knowledge?
  2. Who Are You?: Who are you? How do you define yourself? What identities do you embrace or reject? Who would you like to be? What goals do you have, and how are you planning on achieving them?
  3. Feeling Lost: Do you ever feel lost? What do you do when you feel this way? Have your previous techniques been effective? What can you do today to feel more focused on what you’re hoping to accomplish with your life?
  4. Reflect on Your Values: Dedicate time to write down your core values. Consider how your daily activities and long-term goals align with these values. Adjust your priorities to better reflect what truly matters to you.
  5. Set Specific Goals for Personal Virtue: Identify one or two virtues you want to develop more fully (such as patience, generosity, or discipline). Set specific, measurable goals related to these virtues, such as volunteering several hours each month or adopting a daily discipline routine.
  6. Engage in Meaningful Conversations: Initiate discussions with friends or family about topics beyond surface-level interests. Talk about beliefs, life goals, and what you find meaningful. Remember to be wise about who you talk to and what you reveal.
  7. Practice Mindfulness and Meditation: Incorporate mindfulness exercises or meditation into your daily routine to improve self-awareness and reduce the urge to engage in hedonistic behaviors.
  8. Limit Digital Distractions: Set boundaries for using digital devices to prevent excessive consumption. This could involve specific times when you do not use digital devices.
  9. Regular Self-Assessment: Schedule regular intervals (monthly or quarterly) to assess your progress toward your personal goals and values. Adjust as needed to stay on track.
  10. Embrace Challenges as Opportunities: When faced with difficulties, try to view them as opportunities to grow and learn. This shift in perspective can help you handle life’s challenges more constructively and with less anxiety.

Reading List

  1. “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor E. Frankl – This classic book offers profound insights into finding personal purpose through suffering and adversity, emphasizing the importance of finding meaning in all forms of existence.
  2. “The Road Less Traveled” by M. Scott Peck – This book explores the concepts of love, self-discipline, and personal growth, arguing that the journey to spiritual growth is a long and challenging path, contrary to the instant gratification often sought in modern society.
  3. “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” by Mark Manson – A contemporary take on self-help, this book discusses how to better understand one’s limitations and the realities of life, advocating for a life lived with values that genuinely matter.
  4. “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi – This book introduces the concept of ‘Flow,’ a state of peak enjoyment, focused energy, and creative concentration found by engaging deeply with life tasks that challenge but do not overwhelm.

Please remember it’s important to do the actionables. You’re not on this earth to simply read but to do. To become an individual, you must act more than you consume.

Refer to the linked articles and studies throughout this post for detailed evidence and case studies supporting these views.

*Image credit to Unsplash.