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.
12. “Grow As We Go” by Ben Platt
Song Year: 2019
In contrast to some of the other songs about finding yourself on this list, “Grow As You Go” is about two people learning and growing together.
As discussed, people aren’t islands. We don’t exist in a void, so there’s no reason that self-discovery has to happen in isolation.
“Grow As You Go” starts with one speaker urging the others to take time for themselves and find out who they are. But they reply that they can do that as easily, and maybe better, with their partner beside them.
So, the couple embarks on a journey of self-discovery and expression together. It’s a complicated, sometimes messy process, but the rewards are worth the challenges they faced together.
13. “Lose You To Love Me” by Selena Gomez
Song Year: 2019
Selena Gomez’s ballad about finding yourself is also a thoughtful and moving commentary on the damage toxic relationships do to the people in them.
The song was an immediate hit with fans and successful with critics. Everyone praised the lyrics. They pair beautifully with Gomez’s compelling lyrics. It’s an unflinching look at the work involved in integrating our traumas into daily life. It’s also a haunting melody that isn’t afraid to give the vocal line the space it needs to shine.
14. “This Is Me” by Keala Settle
Song Year: 2017
Most people remember “This Is Me” from its pivotal role in the film The Greatest Showman. In the context of the film, it became an anthem for embracing who you were and ceasing to hide from the world.
Even out of context, it’s a compelling song about finding yourself. It explores the courage it takes to ignore other people’s opinions and be unapologetically true to yourself. The song recognizes that for many people, that can be terrifying. But it also tells us it’s a risk worth taking for a happier, more honest life.
15. “Pin-Up Daddy” by Rett Madison
Song Year: 2021
Rett Madison’s song “Pin-Up Daddy” is one of the more recent songs about finding yourself on this list.
What makes it stand out is its focus on dissecting society’s gender-normative approach to men and women.
The speaker struggles to reconcile her love of suits with her history as a beauty pageant queen. It’s not until she integrates both sides of her personality into who she is that she starts feeling comfortable in her own skin.
It has a propulsive beat and a crooning melody that makes an immediate impression. The vocals flirt with wailing without ever overstepping the mark, and the result is a compelling, anguished exploration of what womanhood means for this speaker.
16. “Always True To You (Darlin’ In My Fashion)” by Nancy Anderson
Song Year: 2001
Cole Porter was famous for his witty lyrics. They’re cheeky and full of wordplay, and that’s no less true of “Always True to You” than it is of his other songs.
What’s immediately charming about “Always True to You” is its presentation of a woman who is unapologetically herself. She is confident in her skin and isn’t afraid to take it. Sometimes that comes at the expense of the people around her, but she’s inarguably living a happy, full life.
It’s a fast-paced, jazzy number with a melody as playful as the lyrics. In this version, listen to the sudden swoops and sweeps of the orchestra. They give an already vivacious song an extra verve.
17. “Maker of My Time by The Paper Kites
Song Year: 2012
“Maker of My Time” is an excellent modern folk song about finding yourself. It has a catchy beat supporting a more mellow melody.
That’s appropriate because the lyrics tackle how challenging accepting who we are can be. It’s difficult to see anything but faults, foibles, and various failings, and that quickly becomes demoralizing.
Ultimately, it’s an optimistic song. It might take effort, but if you put in the time and work, you will emerge as a stronger, better, and more likable person than the one that embarked on that mission of self-discovery.
18. “My Way” by Frank Sinatra
Song Year: 1968
This song about finding yourself is the perfect companion to “Always True to You.” It lacks the jazzy flare of Cole Porter’s number, but that doesn’t stop it from being terrific fun.
It’s another depiction of a speaker who is comfortable in their own skin. As the refrain reminds us, they never hesitate to go through life however suits them best.
It’s a slow, sentimental crooner’s song, and it’s wonderful for dancing, weddings, and anniversaries. But it’s also a more relaxed musical reminder to be true to yourself. Even if you come away with a few regrets, you’ll have less than if you spent your life prevaricating.
19. “High Hopes” by Frank Sinatra
Song Year: 1959
Another lesser-known Sinatra song that has lots to say about finding yourself is “High Hopes.”
The song appeared on a 1959 album released by Sinatra, and it’s full of fable-style verses that recount the misadventures of various willful animals. It’s a bit silly, and it’s full of playful sound effects.
Once you get past the whimsy, it’s a song about the challenge of staying true to yourself, even when the odds are stacked against you. People may not agree with what you want to do or the choices you make. But that’s no reason not to stay true to yourself.
The song’s optimistic refrain reminds us that if you remain true to yourself and your ambitions, there’s no greater reward than success.
20. “Standing In The Way” by Anthony Stewart Head
Song Year: 2001
In discussing songs about finding yourself, we’ve mentioned the importance of other people. “Standing In The Way” offers a variation on that theme.
It’s a song about finding yourself that explores the painful truth that sometimes the people we love can stop us from maturing.
That’s because it can be comforting to rely on parents and loved ones for what we need. But we won’t always have those people with us, and letting go is an integral part of finding yourself. It forces you to make your own choices, even when they feel difficult.
21. “Two Worlds Away” by Nina Nesbitt
Song Year: 2014
Nina Nesbitt’s song “Two Worlds Away” is all about the painful process of finding yourself, and specifically the first agonizing years of teenagerdom.
One of its central themes is how different the woman she is now is different from the young, awkward girl she used to be. But it also discusses how we never stop trying to find ourselves. People are perpetually changing, and much as we wish it got easier, the most important and defining moments feel every bit as painful as they did when we were teenagers.
22. “Still Learning” by Halsey
Song Year: 2020
“Still Learning” is another fairly recent song about finding yourself. It has a catchy and upbeat pop melody.
It blends lyrics about the speaker’s continuing pursuit of self-realization with a jaunty, bopping tune.
Under the upbeat tempo are lyrics that reflect on how complicated finding yourself can be. It’s a song that recognizes how messy and imperfect the process of self-discovery can be. But its bright, brassy melody and tempo ensure it’s also optimistic.
Yes, this song says, we’re all fallible, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
23. “Within You, Without You” by The Beatles
Song Year: 1967
“Within You Without You” was written by George Harrison and released on the 1967 album Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club.
Harrison said the genesis for his song came from a dinnertime conversation about the walls people put up, especially around strangers. From there, the idea segued into a bizarre song full of slides and unlikely instrumentation, including the following:
Once you get past the instrumentation, the song reminds listeners that there’s more to life than going through the motions. It’s not enough to be externally engaged with people and places. You need to interact with your inner self, too. Ideally, the song wants you to integrate them, even as it recognizes that enlightenment like that takes years.
24. “I’m With You” by Avril Lavigne
Song Year: 2002
Here’s another song that explores the necessity of letting people go to find themselves.
The song’s chorus is a cathartic wail about how lonely and challenging this necessary distance can feel. It effectively uses pathetic fallacy, and especially rain, to render feelings of coldness and abandonment.
As the song goes on, the speaker asks why everything around her feels confusing. It's an understandable question because nothing is more confusing or painful than realizing your potential.
25. “Living Dangerously” by Dami Im
Song Year: 2013
Two things stand out about Dami Im’s Living Dangerously.” The first is the powerful vocals that propel this song about finding yourself through its chord progressions. It’s an up-tempo song with a fast pace and a demanding vocal line.
Im’s performance illustrates how physically grueling finding yourself can feel while still managing to sound optimistic.
The other stand-out feature of this song is that it looks unapologetically at how terrifying it feels to take risks. But without them, we stagnate and can’t grow into the people we want to be.
26. “Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song)” by Billy Joel
Song Year: 1977
“Movin’ Out” starts as a song that explores class disparity in America. As it goes on, Joel asks if all the energy we spend on work is worth it. Deciding it isn’t, the titular Anthony sacrifices his job to preserve his values.
This song about finding yourself has a striking beat with complex harmonies. Joel sings with heart, making it a difficult song to forget.
27. “If I’m Being Honest” by Dodie
Song Year: 2019
From the moment this song about finding yourself starts, it's filled with tension. The noise and clamor of the initial chords segue into a slower, more lyrical melody.
It’s overlaid by lyrics that tenderly explore the speaker’s need for validation. Dodie sings with a rare and moving vulnerability.
It was Dodie’s second song and earned the artist a nomination for Best Song – Folk/Singer-Songwriter.
28. “Disconnect” by Clean Bandit and Marina
Song Year: 2017
One reason many people struggle to find themselves is the noise and chatter of social media. “Disconnect” is a song about finding yourself that tackles the impact of the internet on our ability to connect with people around us.
The speaker longs for an authentic connection. But it’s hard to do that online, and switching the phone off is still more challenging.
Its blend of electronic and orchestral sound with haunting vocals creates a memorable reflection on finding yourself.
29. “I’m Still Standing” by Elton John
Song Year: 1987
Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing” has a catchy, fast beat and a drum line that will have you tapping your feet. When you cut through the noise and clever harmonies, it’s also a song about finding yourself.
The lyrics use the seasons as a metaphorical vehicle to explore the way we adapt to the people around us. The person we are with strangers isn’t the person our families know.
More than that, constantly switching personas takes effort. Don’t be deceived by the jaunty melody and snappy rhythm. This song about finding yourself is an anthem for honesty with yourself and the people around you. It might be painful, and it might be difficult, but it’s better than the alternative.
30. “I Don’t Know My Name” by Grace VanerWaal
Song Year: 2017
Here’s another song about finding yourself that explores the idea of adapting your personality to the people around you.
It features VanderWall’s distinctive vocals and ukulele playing and has striking lyrics. The speaker changes so completely that they can’t even tell you their name moment-to-moment. It’s not until they decide to stop adjusting to suit other people that their name and true personality starts emerging.
It’s a moving, triumphant moment for the speaker.
31. “Weightless” by Natasha Bedingfield
Song Year: 2010
We end with an upbeat pop song about finding yourself. Bedingfield sings with passion about being true to yourself.
Her speaker is unapologetically forthright, and that honesty liberates her. She revels in her individuality. The freedom she feels leaves her feeling weightless, as suggested in the title. It’s a triumphant, hopeful, and empowering anthem for people everywhere.
Top Songs About Finding Yourself, Final Thoughts
What’s remarkable about songs about finding yourself is how different they are from one another. Come explore our connection with other people. Others focus on reconnecting with themselves. Still, others embrace unflinching honesty in the face of adversity.
But they all have a common message. Songs about finding yourself want you to know your worth. Realizing your value is tricky and sometimes painful, but one thing they agree on is that it’s always worth the risk you take to find yourself.