When they're old, people have a lot more data to look at than they did when they were young. They have a lifetime's worth of very personal reactions to situations, reactions that other people might not have made, or made differently. And no longer are they struggling to be somebody other than whom they really are, some more perfect someone that they think society wants them to be. Time for that has run out. The deadlines have been reached. The tests have been marked and returned. Old people can finally stop, look at the collected evidence, and say, "Ah."
Linda and I have both lived fairly rough lives, but we've been very lucky in that we've been able to be ourselves all the way along. Neither of us ever developed any ability to pretend to be other people. For some, it's just the opposite. The pressures of life are such that they never get a break from pretending.
So, in the end, Linda and I only had to collect our memories to see who we are. And resign ourselves to them. We didn't have to first strip off artificial personas we had built up over our lifetimes.
I think it's very difficult to work your way out of a trap like that. You have two different tasks to accomplish, not just one, and both are extremely difficult. First, you have to convince yourself you're not the person you've spent a lot of time and effort convincing yourself you are. And, second, you have to try to be your true self when you have no idea what that is.
Well, here's a (probably dumb) idea that has a slight chance of working. Instead of concentrating on trying to be oneself, maybe a person could do it the other way around. They could try to stop being anything they've copied from others, then see what's left.
If anybody gets inspired to try this, I'd be very curious to hear how it goes.