Ah, Identity. That’s a big one. Who we are. Who we want people to think we are. Who we want to be. Who we end up being. What we like about ourselves. What we dislike and want to change about ourselves. It’s a life-long thing isn’t it?
Identity. So many people juggle several, I think. Mostly it’s about how they want other people to perceive them. For status, to fit in, to be liked.
I’ve always been fascinated with people-watching. Not in the creepy, stalker kind of way. But observing people in public places interacting with one another. I had a job as a cashier in an upscale club when I was 21. The register was literally AT the bar, and I had to stay there the whole time because I handled the transactions for the bartenders & waitresses. I had plenty of opportunity to watch the people that came in. Initially the place opened around 4:00 pm for Happy Hour and stayed open until 2 a.m. Later, they started serving lunch so were open most of the day into the night. They served good food and had a dance floor and it was a hot spot because it was new, upscale and fun. It was rich in social interaction.
It was interesting to watch how people wanted themselves to be perceived. Oddly, to me anyway, it changed as the day went on. The lunch crowd was happy, interacting with their friends & colleagues. Some were more serious because they were treating clients to lunch, and trying to close a deal. Some of them, you could tell, were just sucking up and being attentive because they had to, to get the contract. The people who were on the buying side were projecting their own manufactured identity in order to get the best deal. Buying and selling is a perfect set-up for manufactured identities.
When it got to Happy Hour, things definitely changed in the atmosphere and perceived identity factor. People had just gotten off work, wanted to have fun and some drinks. Generally the groups of people were genuinely friends. There were times when I’d notice that someone was romantically interested in someone else in the group. There’d be exaggerated gestures, glances that were held longer than average. More people were there so there was more posturing and more attempts at being noticed, especially as there was more alcohol consumed.
Sometimes I wonder if it is people’s true identity that comes out as they drink, or is it that they throw out their true identity for the time being and become someone else. I’m sure it’s different for everyone.
As the day wears on into night, more people come and go. People sit at the bar and flirt with one another. People sit at the tables for dinner and drinks and some get louder with the more drinks they have. People decide to get up and go dance on the dance floor when they normally wouldn’t. They are friendly to everyone, even strangers. Guys cautiously go up to girls and ask them to dance. For the most part, they are extra witty and funny and the girls are extra attentive and giggly. More mature i.e. older people are somewhat quieter and subdued. Although they all still want to be identified as something more than what they were before they started talking to the other person.
Be aware that these are just my observations of hundreds of people. I’m not judging. It’s the dance of nature and I find it interesting. People do what they do for their own reasons, and as long as no harm is done, I don’t care.
Frankly, I’m just like everyone else. I’m extra friendly to people that I have to sell something to although not overly so. I’m married and have been for a long time so I’m nominally polite (only if I have to be) to men who are flirty. I’ve never been the giggly type so even when I was young & single I wasn’t very tolerant of the giggly types of girls or obnoxious guys.
I’m at the age now that I don’t care what other people’s perception of me is. If someone doesn’t like me, it may sting at first, but it bounces off almost instantly and it doesn’t take any time to realize that it really doesn’t matter. I’m not going to sacrifice myself for someone else’s friendship or acknowledgement, or validation. I’m more important than any of that stuff.
One of my favorite quotes is by an anonymous person:
“Be who you are, and not who someone else wants you to be.”
This is a reflection of me on the wall with the light hitting my glasses.