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15 Things People Don't Realize You're Doing Because You Have an 'Unstable Identity'


What does having an “unstable identity” really mean?

In her piece, “Build-A-Girl Workshop: The Making of My Identity With BPD,” Mighty contributor Bri Bleiwas wrote of her own identity struggles:

Oscar Wilde once said, “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.” Fortunately for him, he probably knew what it meant to be himself. I don’t think I ever knew who I was aside from being bits and pieces of other people.

Living with borderline personality disorder (BPD) can involve identity struggles. For me, this means having a personality dependent on traits I’ve picked up from other people.

Though having an “unstable identity” is most often associated with borderline personality disorder (it’s one of the nine classic symptoms of BPD, after all) it’s important to mention not all people with BPD experience it, and not all people who have identity struggles have BPD.

Maybe you have trouble knowing what your interests and passions are, and look to others to tell you what you should like. Maybe you find yourself altering your appearance frequently in an effort to “find yourself.” Or maybe you go along with other’s opinions in conversations so frequently, people aren’t sure what you actually believe.

Whatever your experience with an unstable identity is, we want to know you’re not alone. We wanted to know what people do because they experience identity struggles, so we asked our Mighty community to share their experiences with us. Below you can read what they said.

If you’re experiencing identity struggles, you’re not alone. We are so grateful you’re here and in our community. If you’re struggling right now, we encourage you to post a Thought or Question about it on the site to get support from other people in our community who get it.

Here’s what our community shared with us.

  1. Trying new things constantly, shifting from one hobby to another. People find it quite fascinating and see me as an adventurous person, but sometimes it really is because I can’t seem to find my place in the world. I have this deep need to belong, but I have a hard time finding a place where I feel like I belong.” — Lia K.
  2. “Thinking I’m tough and don’t need people. I ‘split‘ and take on this persona where I’m heartless and don’t need love or friendship. I consider it to be my better self in that moment but looking back, realize it’s just my fears of loss and inability to commit or trust or rely on people. This sometimes last for months. It’s my biggest demon.” — Meg C.
  3. “I become a social chameleon. I begin to act and talk like the people around me, liking/hating the same things they do… Usually without realizing it!” — Lyssa C.
  4. “I can’t write in a journal to vent like normal people would because I switch between my drastic opinions and thoughts about things in my head so much that I never know if what I’m writing is how I actually feel.” — Jennifer L.
  5. “I’m the same with the radical hair changes, I’ve shaved half my hair off this month, dyed it black. I either wear makeup and I feel like I have battle armor on or I go weeks without it and don’t take care of myself and feel worthless. There’s no in-between. There are two of me.” — Mary B.
  6. “When I was a teenager, I used to create facades or alternative identities to externalize my feelings or the different versions of myself. Now, I sometimes mix them, but others I just get tired of one of them and ‘out of the blue,’ change it. I’m always changing, I cannot stand routines.” — Genkidama K.
  7. “I constantly find new friends and I have a different personality with each friend or friend group. I latch onto people because they feel like my only anchor to the world sometimes.” — Tierney H.
  8. “Changing my mind and going back on plans or promises I’ve made to people. People are often hurt because I once told them I would happily do something, but a few months later I think, ‘That can’t possibly be me.’” — Raheela M.
  9. “People probably think I contradict myself a lot or lie about my thoughts, feelings and opinions because they change in different conversations but it’s just because they literally change like the wind. When I think I do know my opinion, thoughts or feelings on a matter, you can bet the next day it changes! I feel like I’m an emotional sponge and I absorb the energies of those around me which changes my thoughts, feelings and opinions too.” — Siobhan A.
  10. “I’m either 100 percent into it or not at all. Sex… I find everyone sexually attractive (highly unrealistic) or no one at all. I have waves of being consumed by things a new craft or series then nothing. Completely in love or feel numb. Also what I watch influences who I am (personality) in that phase.” — Zoe T.
  11. “Constantly changing jobs or moving homes looking for something but not sure what that something is. People just say I can’t make up my mind what I want and can’t understand why I walk away from well-paid jobs… neither can I sometimes.” — Micky G.
  12. “Switching majors in college a zillion times!” — Rebecca M.
  13. “Being indecisive. I can go to my favorite restaurant and question what to get even if I have a usual pick. I can go shopping and put half of my cart back when I make it up to the checkout. I can go from enjoying my job to applying for random jobs in a completely different field. I’m just completely indecisive about what I want.” — Amanda H.
  14. “I take on the personalities of the people I’m around. Nobody knows the real me, including myself.” — Kady L.
  15. “I was a chameleon. In the past, I would be whoever I thought others wanted me to be. I would morph into a different person around different people, liking what they liked, dressing like them, talking about things they liked. I’ve become extremely aware of this experience and when I am doing it. It left me feeling fractured. Now I am more myself and learning that people in fact accept me for who I am.” — Jennifer P.

Can you relate? Let us know how in the comments below: