Discovering Your True Self: The Journey to Identity Achievement

Everyone at a point in their adolescent period goes through some crisis that forms the basis for their identity achievement after experiences on personal beliefs, values, and societal roles.

Young people have the idea of status they want to attain, the kind of person they want to be, and the kind of life they desire. This idea might exist only in their head if they don’t strive to achieve it.

This process is important for a person’s psychological development and enhances their ability to navigate the challenges of adulthood.

In this article, we will explore deep into what constitutes identity achievement and how young people can come out confident and fulfilled.

Identity Achievement Definition

A man feeling fulfilled, and example of identity achievement example

It is the process of developing a clear and strong sense of one’s identity, understanding their role in society, and how one fits into the world around them.

This achievement is the culmination of a series of stages and experiences that help individuals recognize their unique talents, values, and beliefs, and use those to construct a meaningful and fulfilling life.

It involves a level of self-knowledge, exploration, and experimentation to fully develop a sense of identity.

People who have achieved identity are more likely to have strong mental health, positive self-esteem, and a sense of purpose in life.

Importance of Identity Achievement

Attaining the desired identity has many benefits for the individual and gives him more confidence to navigate life. Here are some of its importance:

  • Improved self-esteem: When an individual achieves a clear sense of identity, they feel more confident about themselves, which leads to improved self-esteem. This, in turn, can positively impact their mental health and well-being.
  • Strong sense of direction: Knowing who you are and what you want out of life can help you make more informed decisions about your future. This can lead to a stronger sense of direction and purpose in life.
  • Better relationships: Individuals who have achieved a clear sense of identity are more likely to form healthy and fulfilling relationships with others. This is because they are better able to communicate their needs and boundaries, and they have a better sense of what they want out of a relationship.
  • Increased resilience: When an individual has a strong sense of identity, they are better able to handle life’s challenges and setbacks. This is because they have a strong sense of self-worth and are better equipped to cope with adversity.
  • Improved academic and career performance: Individuals who have achieved identity achievement are more likely to succeed in academics and their careers. This is because they have a clearer sense of what they want out of life and are better able to set and achieve goals.

Also Read: Understanding The Complexities Of Interpersonal Relationships

Example of Identity Achievement

An example of identity achievement could be a young person who has gone through a period of exploration and self-discovery and has developed a clear sense of their values, beliefs, and goals.

They may have explored different career paths, hobbies, and interests, and have made deliberate choices about their future based on their personal values and aspirations.

They may have a strong sense of self-awareness and self-confidence, and feel comfortable expressing their unique identity to others.

This individual may also have a strong support system of family and friends who encourage and celebrate their sense of self.

The Theoretical Background of Identity Achievement

Identity attainment is a central concept in developmental psychology and focuses on the process of forming a stable, integrated sense of self as one moves from adolescence to adulthood.

Erik Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development

According to Erik Erikson’s psychosocial theory, the successful resolution of the identity crisis during adolescence leads to a sense of identity attainment, where an individual has developed a clear sense of who they are, what their values and beliefs are, and what goals and directions they want to pursue in life.

To achieve this sense of identity, an individual must integrate various aspects of themselves, including their social roles, beliefs, and values, as well as their individual characteristics such as personality traits, strengths, and weaknesses.

They must also navigate the challenges and opportunities presented by their social and cultural contexts, including peer relationships, family dynamics, and cultural norms.

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Research has shown that the achievement of a strong sense of identity is associated with many positive outcomes, including greater psychological well-being, higher self-esteem, better academic and vocational outcomes, and more positive social relationships.

Various factors can influence an individual’s identity achievement process, including their cognitive development, their social and cultural context, and the challenges they face in their lives.

Some individuals may struggle with identity formation, leading to difficulties in their psychological and social functioning.

Thus, understanding the theoretical background of identity achievement can help researchers and practitioners better support individuals in their journey toward a strong and integrated sense of self.

James Marcia’s status theory and stages of identity formation

James Marcia’s identity status theory suggests that individuals go through four different stages of identity formation:

  • Identity diffusion: In this stage, individuals have not yet explored or committed to any particular aspects of their identity. They may feel lost or uncertain about their future goals or values.
  • Identity foreclosure: In this stage, individuals have made commitments to certain aspects of their identity, such as their career or religious beliefs, but they have not actively explored alternative options or considered other possibilities.
  • Identity moratorium: In this stage, individuals are actively exploring different aspects of their identity through experimentation and questioning. They may feel uncertain or conflicted about certain aspects of their identity but are actively working to form a sense of self.
  • Identity attainment: In this final stage, individuals have successfully worked through the identity moratorium stage and have committed to certain aspects of their identity. They feel confident and secure in their sense of self.

Marcia’s theory suggests that individuals may move back and forth between these stages throughout their lives and that some individuals may never fully achieve a sense of identity.

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The Process of Identity Formation

A teenager examining himself in the mirror, a habit of identity achievement crisis

The process of identity formation is a complex and ongoing process that involves many factors, including genetics, environment, culture, and personal experiences.

It is the process by which you develop a sense of who you are, your values, beliefs, and attitudes, which help you navigate the world and engage with it in a meaningful way.

The formation of this identity typically begins in your childhood and continues into adolescence and adulthood.

During this time, you are exposed to a range of experiences that shape your perception of yourself, others, and the world around you.

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These experiences can include interactions with families, peers, communities, and institutions.

Identity formation is an internal, subjective process that involves self-reflection, introspection, and self-awareness.

Central to the process is the development of a sense of self-esteem and self-efficacy, which contributes to an individual’s motivation and sense of purpose.

Many theories attempt to explain the process of identity formation, including psychosocial theory and social identity theory.

The psychosocial theory posits that individuals navigate a series of psychosocial crises throughout their development, which contributes to the formation of an individual’s identity.

Social identity theory, on the other hand, posits that individuals form their identities based on their membership in social groups.

Here is the sequence of the process of identity formation:

1. Identity confusion

Identity confusion, also known as identity crisis, is a period of uncertainty and difficulty in defining one’s individual identity.

It often occurs during adolescence and young adulthood but can occur at any point in life when major life changes, such as relocation, divorce, or job loss, occur.

Individuals may experience feelings of confusion, anxiety, and discomfort as they try to establish their sense of self, values, and beliefs.

This may result in participants breaking away from their social group, changing lifestyles, or even seeking therapy or counseling.

2. Identity exploration

Identity confusion, also known as identity crisis, is a period of uncertainty and difficulty in defining one’s individual identity.

It often occurs during adolescence and young adulthood but can occur at any point in life when major life changes, such as relocation, divorce, or job loss, occur.

Individuals may experience feelings of confusion, anxiety, and discomfort as they try to establish their sense of self, values, and beliefs.

This may result in participants breaking away from their social group, changing lifestyles, or even seeking therapy or counseling.

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3. Identity commitment

Identity commitment refers to the degree to which an individual has committed to a particular identity or set of beliefs.

This commitment can be seen in the ways individuals behave, think, and feel in accordance with their chosen identity.

It is a process that occurs over time and involves exploring, experimenting, and making choices that align with one’s chosen identity.

When an individual is committed to their identity, they are more likely to experience a sense of meaning and purpose in their life and are often more resilient in the face of challenges or setbacks. Alternatively, lacking identity commitment can lead to a sense of confusion, indecisiveness, and lack of direction.

4. Consolidation of identity

Consolidation of identity refers to the process through which an individual develops a stable and integrated sense of self.

This process involves exploring different aspects of oneself, such as values, beliefs, interests, and experiences, and reconciling these aspects into a cohesive sense of identity.

Consolidation of identity typically occurs during adolescence and young adulthood as individuals face new challenges and opportunities that require them to make choices and decisions about who they are and who they want to be.

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This process may involve questioning previously held beliefs and values, trying out new behaviors and roles, and seeking out relationships and experiences that help them to understand and define themselves.

While the consolidation of identity is a natural and necessary part of human development, it can be difficult and challenging for some individuals, particularly those who may face discrimination or marginalization based on their identity.

Factors such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and socioeconomic status can all influence how individuals perceive and construct their identities, and may impact their ability to fully consolidate a sense of self.

Factors that Influence Identity Achievement

  • Personal disposition: This includes personality traits such as self-awareness, openness to experience, and conscientiousness, that influence an individual’s capacity to reflect upon and evaluate their own identity.
  • Family background: Family dynamics and relationships, including parent-child relationships and cultural values, play a significant role in shaping a person’s identity. These factors can affect an individual’s sense of self and their ability to explore different aspects of their identity.
  • Societal norms and expectations: Societal norms and expectations related to gender, race, ethnicity, class, and sexuality can influence how people perceive themselves and their place in society.
  • Peer relationships: Peer relationships and friendships can have a significant impact on how individuals define themselves and their identities. Social groups can positively or negatively influence an individual’s sense of self.
  • Cultural values and traditions: Cultural values and traditions can shape a person’s sense of identity and their understanding of themselves in relation to their community.
  • Education and personal experiences: Education and personal experiences, including work and life experience, can influence a person’s self-concept as they reflect upon and evaluate their experiences and how they have impacted their identity.
  • Historical and political factors: Historical and political factors, such as wars, colonization, or migration, can influence how individuals understand their identity in relation to historical and political contexts.

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Signs of Identity Achievement

Here are the observable indicators of identity achievement:

  • Sense of direction: People who have achieved a sense of identity have a clear understanding of their goals and aspirations in life. They have a sense of direction and purpose that guides their decisions and actions.
  • Strong sense of self: Individuals who have achieved identity have a strong sense of who they are as a person. They understand their strengths, weaknesses, and unique qualities.
  • Self-confidence: People who have achieved identity are typically more self-confident and assertive. They are comfortable expressing their opinions and beliefs, and they are not easily swayed by others.
  • Openness to new experiences: Individuals who have achieved identity are typically more open to trying new things and exploring new ideas. They are not afraid to step outside of their comfort zone and take risks.
  • Ability to cope with challenges: People who have achieved identity are generally better equipped to handle life’s challenges and setbacks. They have a strong sense of resilience and are able to bounce back from adversity.
  • Emotional stability: Individuals who have achieved identity tend to have a more stable emotional state. They are less likely to be overwhelmed by negative emotions and are better able to regulate their emotional responses.

Also Read: How To Make Friends As An Introvert

Challenges to Achieving Identity

Identity achievement is a complex process that can be influenced by a variety of internal and external factors.

Some of the challenges that individuals may face in achieving a sense of identity include:

  • Role confusion: Adolescents may experience confusion and uncertainty about their roles and identities as they navigate through the developmental stage of adolescence.
  • Cultural and societal expectations: Cultural and societal expectations may shape an individual’s sense of identity and can create conflicts between their personal values and beliefs and those of their cultural or social group.
  • Family dynamics: Family dynamics can play a significant role in shaping an individual’s sense of identity. If a family does not provide a supportive environment, it can hinder the process of identity achievement.

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  • Trauma and adversity: Trauma and adversity can have a lasting impact on an individual’s sense of self and can make it difficult to develop a clear and stable sense of identity.
  • Personal struggles: Personal struggles such as mental health issues, substance abuse, or challenging life events can make it difficult for individuals to focus on their identity development.
  • Lack of self-awareness: Lack of self-awareness can prevent individuals from understanding their own values, beliefs, and goals, which can hinder the process of identity achievement.
  • Peer pressure: Peer pressure and the desire to fit in with a particular group can lead to individuals compromising their values and beliefs, making it difficult to achieve a clear sense of identity.

Strategies for Achieving Identity

Achieving identity achievement is a lifelong process that requires self-reflection, exploration, and personal growth.

Here are some strategies that can help individuals in their journey towards identity achievement:

1. Self-reflection: Engage in regular self-reflection by exploring your values, beliefs, and goals. This can involve keeping a journal, talking with trusted friends or family members, or seeking out professional support.

2. Exploration: Try new experiences and activities that can help you discover your interests, strengths, and weaknesses. This can involve taking on new hobbies, volunteering, or traveling to new places.

3. Education: Seek out education and training opportunities that align with your interests and goals. This can involve taking courses, attending workshops, or pursuing a degree.

4. Support system: Surround yourself with supportive individuals who encourage and challenge you to grow. This can involve joining a community group, a mentorship program, or seeking out therapy or counseling.

5. Embrace challenges: Embrace challenges and life circumstances as opportunities for growth and learning. Use these experiences to gain new insights and perspectives on yourself and your values.

6. Mindfulness: Practice mindfulness and self-awareness by staying present in the moment and observing your thoughts and emotions without judgment. This can involve meditation, yoga, or other mindfulness practices.

7. Set goals: Set achievable goals for yourself that align with your values and interests. This can involve creating a vision board, setting SMART goals, or creating an action plan.


Identity achievement is a crucial task during adolescence and young adulthood. It involves exploring roles, values, and beliefs to establish a clear sense of self.

This process can be challenging, involving navigating life experiences, relationships, and societal expectations.

Successfully achieving identity brings benefits like increased self-esteem, purpose, and better mental health.

Struggling with identity formation can lead to difficulties in personal and professional life. Identity achievement is an ongoing process throughout life, essential for personal growth.

Embracing your unique identity allows for a fulfilling life and positive contributions to society.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is identity achievement?

It is a term used in psychology to describe the successful resolution of the identity crisis, a period of exploration and self-discovery that typically occurs during adolescence. It involves the development of a clear and coherent sense of self, including one’s values, beliefs, goals, and aspirations.

What are the four identity statuses?

The four identity statuses are identity diffusion, identity foreclosure, identity moratorium, and identity achievement. These terms were developed by James Marcia to describe different ways in which individuals approach the process of identity development.

What are the characteristics of individuals who have achieved identity?

Individuals who have achieved identity tend to have a clear and consistent sense of who they are and what they want out of life. They are able to make decisions and take actions based on their own values and beliefs, rather than simply conforming to the expectations of others. They are also likely to have a strong sense of self-esteem and confidence in their abilities.

How does identity achievement affect mental health?

It has been linked to positive mental health outcomes, including higher levels of self-esteem, self-efficacy, and life satisfaction. It can also protect against the development of mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.

How can one achieve identity?

Achieving identity involves a process of exploration, reflection, and decision-making. Some strategies that can be helpful in this process include seeking out new experiences, reflecting on one’s values and beliefs, engaging in self-reflection and self-discovery, and seeking guidance and support from trusted others.

Can identity achievement change over time?

Identity development is a lifelong process, and individuals may continue to explore and refine their sense of self throughout their lives. It is possible for individuals to experience changes in their identity achievement status over time as they encounter new challenges and experiences.

What are some challenges that can impede identity achievement?

Some challenges that can impede achieving identity include social pressure to conform, lack of supportive relationships or mentors, internal conflicts or self-doubt, and environmental barriers such as poverty or discrimination.


  1. The Relationship of Values to Identity Achievement Status
  2. Identity Development during Adolescence
  3. Identity Development in Adolescence and Adulthood
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A Personal Development Content Creator and an author. I write about life ethics and love to document and share life hacks and experiences of people to help others make good life decisions.

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