The Best Imitation of Myself

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I’ve heard it said that there are two things for sure in life: death, and taxes. Well, science and cosmetics are doing their darndest to reverse death and I know plenty of people who’ve devoted their adult life to avoiding taxes, so I guess nothing’s certain at all. Except, maybe, the phrase, “Hello, my name is _______.” Name tags, business cards, applications, emails, introductions; the letters that make up your name form a symbol that validates your existence without actually saying anything about you. Sometimes, I wish the name tags read, “Hello, I am _______,” instead, but that would take all the fun out of getting to know the people you meet.

If anything, I’ve learned that the person I was and the person I will be are so different, it’s a miracle that they share the same DNA. There were things I knew about myself, things I presumed to know about myself, and things I’d been convinced I knew about myself, all of which I hadn’t bothered reflecting on. A semester later, the boundaries of where my body ends and I begin may have become metaphysically blurred, but I believe I’ve been getting closer to something that may be the truth. Or not; it’s very likely that I’ve accumulated so many different imitations of myself that any semblance of truth was swallowed by a constantly shifting eldritch abomination perched in my soul. I also may have been reading too much Lovecraftian literature.

In my writings this year, I’ve dealt heavily with the idea of pretense, not just in my LHSP work but in my Communications class, as well. It’s so interesting to think that almost everything we do in life is some form of pretending, be it conscious or socially constructed. And I’ve come to the conclusion that the things you’re not pretending about aren’t any more real than the lies, because heaven knows even those things can change. I used to know I loved bacon, now I don’t eat meat. College, right?

In my speech, I asked the question “Who are you?” No, the answer is not your name. That question is so much harder to answer than it appears on the surface. To really know someone, you’d have to watch their whole life up until this very moment, and even then, you wouldn’t have reacted to it in the same way as did the person who lived through it. Like a documentary, the memories we decide to use in the construction of our identity are an attempt to provoke a specific response and convey a message to the people we meet. You’re the only person to ever inhabit your body; describe yourself in one life or less.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I am more than short hair and crooked bottom teeth, than insecurities, than music tastes, than social media profiles. But trying to articulate what exactly the “more” is is impossible, so I’ll settle for revealing these parts of my soul one at a time, slowly. I will learn from the people I admire, I will move forward through time creating ties, I will look inward and reflect, and most importantly, I will craft an imitation of myself of which I can be proud to say, “Hello, I am.”

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One thought on “The Best Imitation of Myself

  1. Pretense. Yeah, that’s about right. I guess Vonnegut was on to something. I’ve started to develop this (not terribly innovative) theory that your identity is entirely audience-dependent. That is not to say that you don’t have control over certain elements, but it’s more about recognizing that you exert that control in different ways based on your audience. So when are we are at our highest levels of pretense? When are we most willing to simply “be”? [Kind of like that whole “I am.” motif, I suppose.] In this way, personal identity construction is similar to the first rule of the writing process: KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE. You won’t get very far (or feel very satisfied or accomplish your goals) if you don’t. But, then again, maybe I’m full of baloney. Maybe this whole “wise old teacher” routine has been fake. Was I able to give you the best imitation of myself? Your guess is as good as mine.

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