Why do I feel like a different person now?

. . . as answered on Quora. . . .

I might be able to answer if you felt like you were me. I know something about me.

But if you feel like some random different person…. Maybe I am not the right person to ask.

Can you ask that “different person”? What does he/she/ze say?

Seriously, do you feel alienated from your own self? This could be worth looking into from a psychological perspective, with the help of someone trained in problems like this.

But it might have to do with (a) being required by circumstance to act outside of your normal comfort zone, or (b) learning a new set of skills, which takes artificial concentration before mastery and psychological identification. These are not unheard of conditions among the young. Further, people who have experienced great loss or failure, have been abusively excluded or denigrated, or are riddled with vice . . . these people often find themselves (c) succumbing to a sort of hidebound self-identification with their negative qualities, and not with their better potentials. This is a trap. It leads to misery, in the end, to despair. Do not get trapped. If you are trapped, figure a way out. But you must understand the nature of your entrapment. If you do not think you are challenging yourself, if (d) you are on neutral, so to speak, then a certain hollowness of life can lead to quirks of mind such as you indicate. And to worse, as mentioned in (c).

So your question could indicate a problem of possible major consequences. At least in potentia.

I think it is important not to get into a “morbid consciousness” of one’s own self. And self-alienation is definitely on the cusp of that, if not that precisely. Instead, pursue worthy goals according to time-tested plans. The goals can be quite individual, quirkily yours and no-one else’s, and still be regulated by methods well established by cultural tradition, religion, philosophy, or whatever institutions you find yourself within.

You might consider whether the institutions that envelop you might not be part of your problem, though. Perhaps you need to change social contexts.

Take heart, though. We all face problems of this sort, on some level. Becoming a rational being is not necessarily easy, and certainly not foolproof (by definition).

But I would investigate (if not exhaustively) the worthiness of your possible goals. Do not focus on vocations or avocations that are anti-social in a fundamental sense. And try to conform to reasonable moral rules. If your goal is “to become rich,” avoid crime. (I would also say “avoid politics,” too, but many people would disagree with me on that. Many people today find advance through such avenues. Political corruption pays.) But “becoming rich” does not strike me as a very good goal, naked and alone. Becoming successful, by hard work, intelligent marshaling of resources, and offering legitimate advantages to others? Yes, that is good.

Whatever you do, try to master something. But recognize that you cannot master everything. Everybody fails at most things — and everyone dies in the end. We concentrate on what we do best, for as long as we can. Do not get worked up about your inadequacies. Accept them. If someone calls attention to them, do not take offense. Move on. That person has inadequacies too, and may merely be adept at covering them up. A socially successful person is in a way like a magician: the magician directs our attention away from what we “must not see.”

Be realistic as well as “idealistic.”

You might consider reading some well-regarded recent work in the psychology of personal development. Are you familiar with Mihaly Csikszentmihaly’s Flow? Dr. Jordan Peterson’s self-authoring procedure?

Best wishes, and forgive me if my opening jests seemed offensive. If you can. I was trying to indicate a metaphysical interpretation of your question . . . but obliquely, by play, rather than with philosophical analysis.


After writing the above, a dozen other possible answers came to mind, not excluding “You’ve grown.”