It can take a while to find yourself. You change a number of times as you grow, and it’s ok to be a different person in each of those stages. If you want music you can relate to during this process, here are some of the best and most memorable songs about finding yourself.
1. “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga
Song Year: 2011
It was an immediate success when Lady Gaga released “Born This Way” in 2011. It appeared on her second album and was an electro-pop blend that took radio stations by storm.
Perhaps because it was a song about finding yourself, listeners vocally expressed appreciation for it. The song’s theme of self and sexual discovery resonated deeply. While the song quickly became an anthem for the LGBTQ2+ community, many straight people found the sentiments expressed equally moving.
2. “How Far I’ll Go” by Alessia Cara
Song Year: 2015
“How Far I Go” first appeared in Disney’s feature film Moana, about a young Polynesian girl with a spirit the size of the ocean she loved.
In Cara’s hands, the song’s themes of self-discovery and impetuous youth take center stage. Anyone who has ever experienced the dramatic highs and lows of youthful drama will relate to how emotions burst from this song. It’s a catchy song about finding yourself we can all relate to.
3. “Me, Myself and I” by G-Eazy
Song Year: 2015
“Me, Myself and I” is a hip-hop song about finding yourself. It’s a reflective song with a catchy tune. It's a reflective song with a catchy tune, and it's easy to find yourself singing along as you listen to artist G-Eazy's meditation on life's challenges.
One of the most striking aspects of this song is its confidence. It’s easy for songs about finding yourself to flirt with wallowing or self-indulgence. The up-tempo beat keeps this one moving at a steady pace. That helps it come across as an empowering anthem for less-confident listeners.
4. “Through The Rain” by Mariah Carey
Song Year: 2002
Rain and the concept of cosmic sympathy have a long history of representing sadness in music and literature.
In “Through The Rain,” the rain and water imagery reminds us that even in our darkest, most turbulent moments, we cannot give up on ourselves.
It’s an optimistic song. As long as you stay true to yourself, the lyrics suggest, you’ll rediscover the sun when the rain clears. And you’ll be even stronger than you were when the onslaught started.
5. “Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall” by Ella Fitzgerald
Song Year: 1957
Proving rain imagery goes back for miles, here’s Ella Fitzgerald singing “Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall.”
Like the song above it on this list, it uses rain to symbolize the trials we undergo as we grow into ourselves.
From the first jazzy chords, it’s a jaunty, optimistic song. That’s surprising because, at first glance, it sounds like a song about a love affair that went wrong. But its message is triumphant. There will always be rain. But even torrential rain stops eventually, and when it does, the sun comes out. Crucially, you’ll be prepared to weather the next rain shower.
6. “Straighten Up And Fly Right” by Nat King Cole
Song Year: 1943
“Straighten Up And Fly Right” makes an unlikely candidate for a song about self-discovery. But it has an important message for anyone getting to grips with who they are; Sometimes, we’re our worst enemy.
Typically, we think of self-discovery as an insular process. It’s something you do while meditating, writing a diary, or, at a stretch, talking to a therapist. But even the smartest people can’t see themselves clearly.
Cole’s jazzy vocals and fizzing melody remind us that sometimes we need a buzzard to come along, take us for a ride, and remind us to keep cool under pressure.
7. “Changes” by Ian and Sylvia
Song Year: 1966
“Changes” is one of the more melancholy songs about finding yourself on this list. Typically, songs about self-discovery are upbeat.
But “Changes” grapples with a poignant and resonant message. The person we were when we were young is not necessarily the person we are in adulthood. Realizing and accepting that is an important part of finding yourself.
It’s not until you integrate past and present that you can fully realize who you are. To do that means letting go of our romanticized memories of how things used to be.
Ian and Sylvia Tyson soften the melancholy of the melody with exquisitely poetic lyrics. The shifting seasonal imagery of the song is a beautiful metaphor for the growth you undergo when finding yourself.
8. “A Place In The World” by Taylor Swift
Song Year: 2006
Taylor Swift famously wrote “A Place In The World” when she was only 13. It’s the perfect age to wrestle with finding yourself because it stands perfectly poised between childhood and adolescence.
Swift’s inspiration came from a family move to Nashville. Alone in a new home, she felt more adrift and cut off from her friends than ever. The song explores more than the difficulty of finding yourself. It’s also a song about loneliness and finding a place where you feel safe, comfortable, and at home.
9. “thank u, next” by Ariana Grande
Song Year: 2018
Another popular song about finding yourself is Ariana Grande’s “thank u, next.”
The song opens with a scenario listeners of all genders and creeds can relate to. It rattles off several past paramours and the role they played in shaping the speaker’s life.
It seems like an unlikely place to start, but people aren’t islands. We become who we are through a combination of life experiences and the people we interact with. That’s true irrespective of whether the impact those people have on you is negative or positive.
As “thank u, next,” progresses, it shifts focus. We learn the speaker is no longer in a romantic relationship, and they like it that way. They’re taking time to discover who that combination of life and people transformed them into.
They hope that if they can find out who they are, they’ll not only treat people around them better, but they’ll be the most authentic version of themselves possible.
10. “You Got To Go” by Above and Beyond
Song Year: 2011
“You Got to Go” is a mainstay of Above and Beyond’s live performances these days. The original recording combined its signature rhythmic beat and Zoe Johnson’s beautiful and floating vocals.
The result was a trance track that quickly became a favorite for electronic music devotees everywhere. The rhythm sounded like a heartbeat, giving the music the impetus it needed to keep moving. Simultaneously, the more relaxed tempo and occasional drops gave the music space to grapple with themes of self-exploration and discovery.
11. “Express Yourself” by Madonna
Song Year: 1989
It’s impossible to discuss songs about finding yourself without mentioning Madonna’s “Express Yourself.”
Released in 1989, it’s a song about speaking up for what you deserve. Its insistence that girls and women refuse to settle for lesser options turned it overnight from a song on an album to an anthem of feminist empowerment.
Because it’s partly about recognizing your value, the song also grapples with the importance of knowing yourself. You can’t demand what you deserve if you feel inferior or lesser than others.