What makes us “us”? This is a question that every person on Earth would have asked (or constantly asking) themselves at some point in their lives. We seem to be gripped by an instinct to be unique – to not only discover our identity but to express it to the world.
Our identity is manifested through how we interact with the world. Some people express themselves visually – colourful hair, a token accessory they always wear or a general “look”. Some people opt to express their uniqueness through what they say – such as having catch-phrases or being the witty, funny guy.
However, by far the most common way people show their identity is through their mannerisms – specifically those we display consciously. For example, some common traits people openly show are “being a hugger”, “always smiling” or “never swearing”. It is almost as if we set up intricate sets of rules for ourselves so that we act in a way that is predictable by people who know us well – a persona code, if you will.
This becomes interesting when the expected behaviour is not necessarily positive, such as when your friend is acting in a way that irks you, like saying something stupid or being overly affectionate. Well, it could be that they are purposefully doing it as per their persona code, knowing that it may not be received well. This seems illogical – why would you act in a way that hurts your image?
This is because our “trademark” – what makes us “us” – is a complex combination of our past experiences, present behaviour and our choices for the future. Due to this complexity, it is impossible to be a “perfect person”. So perhaps the reason that we cling to our mannerisms – whether they are good or bad – is that we would rather be a perfect “me” than a perfect person.
Others may mock us for doing something “that’s so Raven” or “that’s so Jin”. But we would rather show the world our imperfections and be loved for them, than forcing ourselves to be something that we are not – perfect.