Many people have experienced a moment when they get to know a fictional character and then slowly begin to embody their personality. For me, this kind of copying and pasting of characteristics was like a kind of drug. When I watched Hannah Montana at the age of six, I would talk in a country accent half the time and pretended I was living a double life. I was “Daniela California”. When I watched Matilda, I pretended I had magical abilities and could make objects move through the power of my mind. When I read Harry Potter, I became instantly more studious and well-read, in an attempt to be more like Hermione. (The last example was one of the more beneficial side effects of this drug). It was cute then because I was youthful and naive, but unlike the shoes and sequined dresses I wore, this was something I did not grow out of.
After watching Gilmore Girls, I had completely adopted a new sense of humor thanks to the ever-so-cool Loralei Gilmore and her witty comments. After Sex and the City, I had to reevaluate every piece of clothing in my closet to consider its level of chicness and determine whether or not Carrie Bradshaw would approve. My obsession, it seemed was getting the best of me, and made me wonder; was this a normal experience?
Soon enough, on a TikTok deep dive, I found my answer. There had been a trend going around with a sound that stated; “I do not have an original personality, I stole it from,” and then the person in the video would continue to show pictures of their favorite TV, movie, or book character. There had been about 50 thousand videos using this sound. It begged the question, is there such a thing as an original personality?
We have all heard of the common debate of “nature vs. nurture” but what about the media? Where did that fall? Sometimes the media we consume is brought to our attention through family members. So would that be considered “nurture”? Other times, however, we have little control of the media and are often subject to whatever the algorithm wants us to hear. Miranda Priestley's voice echoes in my head as she tells Anne Hathaway’s character (from The Devil Wears Prada), that she did not pick out her blue sweater, the fashion industry did, and it was cerulean. Was Miranda talking about more than just a sweater here?
Were we all copying other personalities presented to us from outside our control? The thought itself seemed a little too depressing to swallow, so I took some time to look for the light.
One thing I did notice about these TikToks, was that in nearly every video, a different character was presented as the personality inspiration. That gave me hope. All of our opinions remain different, even if we are experiencing similar types of media. You may be more of a Samantha, whereas I feel more like a Carrie. Perhaps you may relate more to Monica over Rachel. Maybe you were team B over team S.
Whenever we see a young child, it is evident to see that they are so free in their being. When they first begin to dress, they wear crazy colors and patterns, not caring about what others think or say but rather because it feels good. The older we become, the harder it is to imagine that we were once children, who did not care, or were naive enough not to. Children remind me that each of us is so uniquely different. The greater struggle, however, is to remain that unbothered as we grow up. Before we cared about what anyone said about us, who were we?
Perhaps then, there was no problem in attributing some personality traits to a fictional character. Perhaps, the greater part of our personality is not who we are attracted to, but why. Perhaps, the people we admire are just there to help us return to the natural behavioral patterns we once knew.