The circumstances in which we find ourselves may not be the outcome of who we are, but rather consist of whatever amount of compromise we have accepted within relations that we don't control.
Subsequently, many of us make the mistake of declaring "This is who I am" and attach a sense of self-worth to our success in doing it.
Men seem to suffer from this problem especially, so tightly-bound is the male identity to an occupation, whereas women are enjoined to see things from multiple roles. The retired man deflates without the identity he sustained through his association with external power; the young man drifts without direction for want of a "real" career.
Who we are as individuals must never be lost in the mire of circumstances, but advanced as a response to them. To accept something less than we would like is a choice to go on living, but to only know ourselves within its bounds is to forget the act of being alive.