What does that mean to you? What is it saying? Who IS? Who is that phrase or assertion referring to?
"I Am" is an obvious assertion, a statement of the obvious. But to WHOM does it refer? To WHAT? That is the question which we must resolve.
The reference of that assertion is always this - the being or entity which was born on such and such date and time - the being or entity or person - the separate entity - the existence which wasn't there before - the existence which began at conception or during the 9-months in the womb. That "entity" is what or who is being referenced in the statement "I AM".
So THAT is what you take yourself to be. At root, that is your idea of yourself. This is the very core idea you have about what you are.
And in the spiritual search, that idea remains intact as we search for wholeness or oneness or whatever we want to call it. With the root idea of what you are as a separate thing which began and will end, you are then searching for wholeness.
Therefore the idea of enlightenment is some new state or experience to come for that individual existence, that person. Without looking into or removing that core idea about separate existence, there should be some new state or experience FOR that separate existence. Yes?
IF this idea you have about yourself is true, that you in fact DID begin at a particular date and time, if existence DID start NEW and is separate or owned and apart from other existencES, then you are living out a fantasy, waiting for some cool experience or special mystical state or some blue light - spirituality or enlightenment or moksha is then some fantasy state you hope to reach someday, leaving the idea of yourself completely intact, protected by the very search which pretends to want to eliminate it.
What is separate cannot BECOME whole. You, as a separate BEING cannot and will not become one with the universe. That is spiritual fantasy.
The only alternative is that this idea is false - that existence did NOT begin - that you were NOT created or started on such and such a date and time. The only alternative is that you are not NOW nor never WERE separate - that existence isn't OWNED or partitioned or separated.
If this is the case, then it is just a matter of mistaken identity, a false idea you have about yourself, and the resolution is just to correct that idea, to see through the story, to recognize the true by recognizing the false. The problem is ignorance of your true self and the solution is knowledge of what you are and what you are not.
Vedanta has a long history of pointing this out - recently Advaita has blossomed on the Internet and there are many many sites and teachers out there. It can be very confusing - so many different pointers.
The root of it all is to look to that "I AM" - to consider what that means - what do you mean when you assert "I AM". SEE that you are actually asserting your separate existence. SEE that going about spirituality while keeping that idea of separate existence intact is fantasy and frustration. It will never make any sense. It will always be paradox.
Look deeply into this idea that you began, that existence began and will end. What is it that began? What is it that ends? Be brutally honest in this inquiry. Honestly with yourself is very important. Follow each inquiry through to the end.
It is only forms or expressions or patterns which begin, which come and go, which are born and die. The essence or cause or source does not appear except AS these patterns - the patterns come and go but the essence does not come and go with it - the essence isn't affected. What it IS does not change - only the pattern or expression changes. And when the pattern goes, nothing happens to what IS - to existence.
The world, the body, the mind, the ideas called "ME" are all patterns. You are not a pattern. You are the essence itself. What else can you be?