Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about how we present ourselves. I’m not the kind of person who really goes in for a lot of care or thought when it comes to my outward appearance – and I don’t just mean my physical appearance, I mean my outward behaviour, the things I say,
how I’m perceived. I suppose I’m quite self-involved in that I never stop to think how people see me, and on another level I guess I figured I can’t control how people see me anyway, so why bother? How I come across to other people isn’t on my radar at all and consequently I’m not very self-aware – I leave most of the observations to others.
One of my friends takes pride in essentially curating herself – heavily editing her online profiles, her outfits and even her life choices so that they fit in with the aesthetic and ambience she wishes to inspire in people. She spends a lot of time on pinterest and blogs, looking for people she’d like to be like; Brigitte Bardot, Lolita, Princess Peach. She has a thousand self-portraits. I have another friend who celebrates wearing bright clothes and has an “edgy” style, something that has come to define her and which she says makes her appear more confident to other people, despite her insecurities. I’m the opposite of both those thought processes. I rarely base my choices on what fits in with how I wish to be perceived. In fact, I’m the opposite. I obviously choose to wear clothes I like, or listen to music I like, but I don’t think apart what all these disparate choices combine into and what kind of impression they, and consequently I, might leave on a person.
I’m aware that perhaps if I cared more about how I came across I could create a more interesting persona for myself, or build a bigger audience. Maybe I’m naive to think that just allowing myself to do what I want and letting that dictate who I am is enough to make for an interesting, likable person. I’m now in my mid-twenties, and it’s an interesting perspective. Most of my friends are a few years out of university and in the creative sector, like me, and my friend tapestry is a patchwork of those achieving their dreams, those taking the scenic route and living life to the full, those stuck in a bit of a rut and those stressing out that they have no idea what to do next. I tend to think of myself as largely ok; certainly nowhere near the top of the success stories but doing alright in my chosen career and happy with myself.
I choose the things I like, and whatever jumbled, mixed-up collage that creates (for example, right now: drinking apple tea, listening to Frank Sinatra, sat in the garden in shorts and an Annie Golden t shirt, writing) is who I am. I just accept it. Perhaps a more stylised ideal of myself would be sat in a London park, wearing a pretty gingham dress and eating fresh bagels. Or drinking coffee, listening to Chet Baker and wearing black. Who cares? I don’t really aspire to be either of those tableaus. All I am is the version of me that’s happened today. I don’t really aspire to appear any different to who I actually am and whatever I actually do, and I don’t read too much into this; the tableaus are what they are; guided by my tastes and impulses alone with no guiding hand to curate, to edit, to align. I never think “I want to be the kind of person who does this”. I just do what I want. And maybe as I get older, that’s not enough?