The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Edited by: Janani Mahadevan
I love food, I really do. On most occasions, food determines my mood. During exams, my mom would ensure that I eat my favourite food so that I would be happy and focus on studying. My dad is a foodie too; he’s always watching food vlogs and skips a meal if he doesn’t like the food – I don’t endorse the same, please eat your veggies (advice that I desperately need to follow too).
As a result of my love for food, I get really angry when people call themselves foodies when they don’t really experiment with their choices or even eat at all. However when I open Instagram, everyone around me seems to be one. They like the same food and cuisines, even the same restaurants. That doesn’t make me feel great, as I’ve always looked at myself and my love for food as unique. I am coming to the realisation that this may not be true. In an attempt to delay this realisation, when I introduce myself, I don’t call myself a foodie; it seems very cliché.
Something that’s been drilled into our heads from a very young age is that all of us are unique. We all have our unique fingerprints and genetic makeup; each one of us has our own set of strengths and weaknesses. I do not disagree with that, but I can’t help but wonder during most social interactions, both online and in real life: are we really that special in our own way?
I started college two months ago and have interacted with many people so far; I’ve been on hundreds of calls with people, most of whom I barely remember. I even went to a physical get-together, but couldn’t recall the people I talked to ten minutes back. Somehow everyone looked the same, and even talked about the same things. My poor socialising skills and the awkwardness of first meetings are definitely a contributing factor to this feeling, but they are not the cause of it. The reality is that we are far more similar than we are different.
While attending one of my classes, I casually started looking at everyone’s videos. Everyone looked eerily similar and I could not remember if I had already seen their video before, or if I was looking at them for the first time. Somehow, all the girls including me looked the same. We were wearing similar clothes and our hair was open– even our accents were similar. It did not hit me then that most of the people in my class belong to the same class and caste backgrounds, and have similar cultural influences. These factors constitute our personality far more than any of our “personal” choices, and there is bound to be a similarity among people with similar experiences.
Recently, there was a trend on Instagram called ‘if only you knew what goes on in my mind’. I watched quite a few reels, but found all of them to be the same. Every single one of them included pictures of food, videos of the individuals dressing up and their friends and family. Trends are supposed to be similar by nature, given the song and duration of the video are predefined; but is there no scope of showcasing one’s creativity and individuality? Or have we reached a point where our individuality is non-existent?
But this brings the question: did our individuality ever exist in the first place? Are any of the choices we make personal decisions or societal ones? Another example: I tell everyone that I dress up and wear makeup for myself, but I never wear it at home. I cannot step out of the house without applying foundation, so am I really dressing up for myself or for others? When I step out for dinner with my friends and when I step out for dinner with my family, I wear completely different clothes, even if we go to the same place. The truth is I have rarely dressed up for myself, and have always dressed up for those around me.
This realisation makes me question every decision I have ever made. Were any of these decisions made out of ‘choice’, or perceived choice? Do I really control my Netflix watch list or does my Netflix watch list control me? The question remains, do we really have control over our choices or are we caught up in an illusion of control? If we are, can we ever really break out of it?