1. Be alone.
You may not like it, especially if you’ve never been alone before. The silence will settle around you like an uncomfortably heavy blanket. It will be strangely loud, foreign. The sound of your own beating heart will become deafening in the night as you lie awake wondering how this is your life. You may wonder, at whatever age you are, why this is happening to you, how this is happening to you. Let these thoughts and feelings roll over you, understanding you do not need to know the answers right now. Asking is a part of the process. The courage to ask is a part of the process. You will clamor for company, but none that you find will feel natural or comforting. This is normal. Let it happen. You are starting to understand right now your own company is what you need. Accept the loneliness of it. Mire in it if you must, but only long enough to become used to the sound of your own beating heart.
2. Try new things.
Try things you never would have with the person who left you, or because of the thing that threw you so far off course. Take a yoga class. Sky dive. Travel to a new country. Do something you have always wanted to do, or something you thought you would never do. It will introduce you to new people. They may be people you will never see again, or maybe you will meet somebody you will keep in touch with forever. Don’t put pressure on yourself. Just do one thing, anything, that keeps you moving and reminds blood flows in your veins and a soul resides in your body.
3. Feel your feelings.
Some of them will be good, some will be bad. Many will be so painful and gut-wrenching you will want to run from them. Your first reaction will be to reach out to anyone or anything that that will erase, dispel, or silence these feelings. This is not growth. This will not help you find yourself. Finding a body or a bottle that quells these feelings will only serve to wall you off from yourself. Too often do we protect ourselves from that which may hurt us, but it only serves to do more damage to us in the end. Feel your feelings, the good and the bad. Make friends with your pain. Invite it in when you are in control of it so that it may not catch you by surprise when you are least expecting it. Dance with it a little. Begin to understand why it hurts the way that it does, why it drives you to tears, your phone to text your ex at 3am on a Wednesday night. Make sense of these things with a sober and clear mind. It will hurt, but there is a strange sense of beauty and satisfaction in taking control of this pain, and you will find yourself on the other side.
4. Pick up where you left off.
Somewhere along the line you found yourself in a mess. You lost yourself or maybe you never knew who you were at all. But before this mess began you had goals. You had ambition. There was a fire inside you burning so brightly somebody saw something in you, enough to stay at one point. It’s there loss if their gone now. You, and only you, can remind yourself of that. Half the point, to be honest, is to not need to remind yourself of that. The whole point is to pick up where you left off. You had goals. Go after them. Go after them for you and you alone. Reclaim your ambition and attitude; use it to begin again. Nobody needs to remind you that you can do this. You can tell yourself that every morning when you step out of bed.
5. Try again.
Part of finding yourself is learning what trying again will mean. You will piece yourself back together, learning new things about the skin you are in. There will be a fleshy, pink, beating mass within you. Protect it. It’s fragile right now. There is no need to divulge your deepest secrets to the first person you meet, or your newest friends. Feel people out. Create a new circle. Find new passion and love. The unsteady, maybe even uncomfortable feeling you may have, as if a newborn giraffe is using its legs for the first time is only natural. You are molting. Like a baby Phoenix rising from a pile of ashes, you must grow. The old skin is still shedding and it takes time, but too much time in solitude will only serve to harden your heart. Find yourself. Shed light on all of the nooks and crannies you kept hidden from others. Relight the fire you put out to keep yourself from being too intimidating, too strong, too yourself. Scream. Cry. Laugh. Reclaim old things you cherished, find new things you will love, and when you begin to walk in rhythm with the beating of your own heart, however unstable the rest of you may feel, try again, to make friends with the rest of the world.