"Maybe I’m thinking myself in a hole
Wondering, who I am when I ought to know
Straighten up now time to go
Fool somebody else, fool somebody else"
– Ben Folds Five, "Best Imitation of Myself"
Throughout our lives, we’re on a constant path of discovery. Who I was last week is very different from who I am today; don’t even get me started on last month or last year. We’re constantly evolving, chaotically changing to react to our surroundings and experiences. We’re an adaptable sort, us homo sapiens, trying to trudge through the little pieces of reality that make up our lives, attempting to look out for the forest while we’re dodging the trees. It’s only natural to get confused as to who we are on any given day.
I constantly surprise myself with the sacrifices I will make, not necessarily physically, but emotionally, things I thought I would never put up with. I maintain this higher sense of self (should we even call it our morals? Our soul? Our conscience?) and usually act in accordance to the self-directed ‘rules’ that I’ve associated with who I am and, more importantly, who I want to be. And then I go and do something that negates all that and I have to reassess just who I am and what I want. And it sends me in a tailspin. If I, Aubrey, would never do something, and then did, then am I still the me that I was? How much more am I willing to give up? How far will I stray from my own opinion of myself, the version that I’m not just putting out there for you, but the one that is true and authentic and is me?
"I feel like a quote out of context
Withholding the rest
So I can be for you what you want to see
I got the gesture and sound
Got the timing down
It’s uncanny, yeah, you think it was me."
We tend to hold ourselves to unrealistic standards; after all, we’re only human. We all are trudging through this thing called life and are trying our best to go about it and make it through, at least with our head held high, proud of who we are and what we’re doing. Maintaining a sense of self – a consistent one, at least – is a challenge, because with every relationship – romantic, or otherwise – we adapt. We adapt to people the way we adapt to our surroundings; it’s subtly striving for acceptance that you’ll even see when you find yourself using common vernacular in a new place. This is normal, this is expected.
"Do you think I should take a class
To lose my Southern accent
Did I make me up, or make the face till it stuck
I do the best imitation of myself."
Yet where does it end? When does adaptation and acceptance become posturing? When are you trying too hard such that you’ve lost the very essence of you? What sacrifice is too much?
"Last night I was east with them
And west within
Trying to be for you what you wanna see
But I can’t help it with you
The good and bad comes through
Don’t want you hanging out with
No one but me
Now if it’s all the same
It comes from the same place
And if my mind’s somewhere else
You won’t be able to tell
I do the best imitation of myself
Yes it’s uncanny to see
You’d really think it was me
The best imitation of myself"
Am I me anymore? Or am I simply the best imitation of myself because that’s what you expect, that’s what you want to see?
I think I know the answer, and that’s what I’m most afraid of.