In school we learned about something called fragmented self - how an individual is not whole, but instead different shards of one mirrored face that reflects and refracts society’s expectations. One fragment shows the way you were socialized, another your biologically determined traits and the last one illustrates how you yourself are subjugated in society, as well as how you place yourself in society. The conclusion is that you can never see yourself objectively because of the different lenses you place on yourself, and the gaze others place on you.
An individuals’ identity is always changing, you don’t act the same way you do with your professors and acquaintances, the same way you talk to your close friends or family.
So because of this, we can never see ourselves objectively. We’re always trying to find people who do see us the way we see ourselves, and reject those who refuse, or challenge to see us the way we want to be perceived. That’s why family is sometimes not as welcomed as friends, or why we like surrounding ourselves with likeminded others. It’s because we’re constantly searching for people we can “be ourselves” around, but we’ll never find it. Because there is no objective self that you can vividly remember. I’d say the most object self you can have is before you started to care about what people thought of you. As soon as you feel “embarrassed” or “ashamed” then you have no objective self. This usually happens at school when your peers, or supposed “equals” start policing you. After that, you start realizing that you can’t “be your true self” with just anyone, only those who won’t judge you or criticize you. This could be friends, family, both, and none. It could be a professor, your significant other, and even a pet. Whatever helps you feel like you’re “finding yourself” and “validating your identity” (as long as it’s legal), I hope it makes you happy.
21 year old college senior. English major. Adopted from China as a baby living in the US ever since. Feminist and kill joy with a cause.