With so much pressure to conform, not only from ‘family’ and one’s place of birth, but nowadays from all sorts of publishing, advertising and social media, it’s hardly surprising that people have crises of confidence about who they are and their aspirations.
The pressure to conform is often greatest from those who haven’t dealt with the challenge at all, and are often so drugged by the media they choose, the company they keep, the self-talk that never lets up, that they don’t even realise their chosen state or its limitations.
A very fine description of the problem is available in Erich Fromm’s excellent book The Fear of Freedom. The best quote I can find:
“What we can observe at the kernel of every neurosis, as well as normal development, is the struggle for freedom and independence. For many normal persons this struggle has ended in a complete giving up of their individual selves, so that they are thus well adapted and considered to be normal.
The neurotic person is the one who has not given up fighting against complete submission, but who, at the same time, has remained bound to the figure of the magic helper [parental complex, religious leader, guru …], whatever form or shape “he” may have assumed. His neurosis is always understood as an attempt, and essentially an unsuccessful one, to solve the conflict between that basic dependency and the quest for freedom.” [my italics]
“The Fear of Freedom” Erich Fromm, Ark paperbacks page 153/4
I bought this book in the mid 1980’s and it hasn’t aged (I have!).