I am nobody
"I am nobody. That's the first statement." -Virgil Abloh
For those of you who don't know who Virgil is, he is the creator and founder of luxury streetwear brand, Off-White. This post is not about him, the brand, or fashion more broadly. What it is about is his philosophy in life about identity. When asked in an interview who he draws inspiration from, he named a couple of people, but clarified that he is first and foremost nobody. This is what I want to talk about today. Now that we got that disclaimer out of the way, read on at your own discretion.
[Real event, paraphrased]
J: "S, I want to share something with you. I've been obsessing with a concept lately."
S: "What's that? By the way I love how you preface by telling me you want to tell me something, rather than just telling me."
J: "Being amorphous."
S: "What's that?"
J: "To be without a clearly defined shape or form. To be anybody and nobody, at your will."
S: "Yeah? Why are you obsessed with being anybody?"
J: "Yeah. Because it's the ultimate freedom. Like, I could be a dude right now. But tomorrow I could be a girl. I could be an artist. I could be whatever I want to be. As long as I allow the lines and boxes I've artificially drawn in my mind to be erased."
S: "So are you a little girl right now? Because that would make sense."
J: "I mean..."
I've got to be honest about something. I've lost myself a bit as of late. What I mean by that is I've been gravitating towards certain things, objects, people, and thoughts. Being magnetically pulled in a thousand different directions, you become exhausted very quickly. You start to convince yourself that there are certain things that if you do or if you get, you will be happy. You start to develop or crave an identity. You start to tell yourself "my name is _____, this is what I enjoy, this is what I want to achieve in my life, this is what I don't like, this is what annoys me and pisses me off", etc, etc. The problem with this way of life is that you're constantly trying to be someone. Notice, I didn't say someone else, I said someone. When you try to be someone, you identify with certain preferences, rules, norms, values, "types" of friends. And the moment anything in life doesn't conform to any one of those parameters, there's friction. It becomes either your problem or someone else's problem, but more often than not it's the former.
To not expect anything, itself, is not a sad statement. In fact, it is the ultimate way to serenity. To not be anyone, is the greatest gift nobody is shopping for. You kill two birds by not being anyone. You are not constrained by your past, and you are unboundedly open to new experiences. Everyday you get a new life in the video game that is your life. Regardless of how badly you fucked up the day before, or the day before that, or the day before that, you get a new start with new options and choices. I mean, I'm talking philosophically -- if you're imprisoned for crime, then obviously your options at the start of each day are much more limited.
So, as a gift from me to you, despite it not being your birthday (then again, that's just a date), here's a challenge: Can you be nobody? Try it for a day. If that went okay, go for a week. If that went okay too, try it for as long as you can humanly handle it until you crave an identity, comfort, consistency. But until you crack, try being nobody, because I promise you, it's better than whatever you're doing right now.