Without having an existential panic attack, I believe we can all identify who we are at a very baseline level. To contextualize this, imagine what you’d put in a dating profile if you weren’t concerned that your friends would eventually find the profile and make fun of you.
You’d list hobbies and books and likes and dislikes, maybe one or two sentences about your job or career and something about your background that you’ve carried with you to the present.
And don’t worry about clichés. Walk along that damn beach, girl. Go barefoot.
Next, think about the picture you’d use. It would have to be one that already existed, so you’d be wearing an outfit that lived in your closet and your hair would probably be similar to your current reality so as not to surprise a date who was expecting a red head as opposed to purple pigtails. (Or vice-versa.)
This is you. Or at least, it’s you right now. And it’s probably the best version of you. But does it explain the same “self” that we proclaim to be when we hold up a sweater (or shoes, pants, scarf, etc.) and declare it to be “me”?
What does “me” even mean?
“This shirt is so me.” Does it mean that we like it — bottom line?
Or does it mean we think we’re supposed to like it based on the above profile constructed to reflect the lives we live in our heads until some sort of seminal life event happens that causes a change? (Age 21: moves cities, updates wardrobe accordingly. Age 24: switches job, updates identity. Age 26: begins working out, updates health priorities, etc.)
Or, does it reflect an even more aspirational idea — she of the “me” we’d like to be?
I’m inclined to think of it as combination of all three: personal taste, the profiles we’ve created, and the aspirational person we’d like to become.
What complicates things is when someone else identifies something as very you. If they’ve assessed you just as you see yourself (or who you try to project) then it’s a compliment. “That Dries Van Noten sweater is so me!”
But if they’ve got it wrong — if you hate that sweater and everything it represents — then is it not “you” because of taste? Or because it doesn’t fit into your profile or add anything to the picture? What the hell do they know anyway?
…But actually, I’m asking. You guys tell me.
Image via Chloe Sevigny for Opening Ceremony