Some of you have always been yourself. You live without any adopted affectations which are necessary for others to move fluidly in social situations. There is no need for hours in the mirror. There is no need for pinching pennies. Instead of investing discretely in a social appearance, which may persuade some you mingle in circles, you simply invite dilatants to your home to flirt with dignitaries. Others just don’t care for games of status. They come from family which valued work and friends and family and personal eccentricity and you have been capable of happily playing small games of little consequence and much reward for most of your lives.
Others were happily themselves as children only to have found their genuine selves vanishing with age, while running into conflicts or disappointment which later pushed them to affect manners, behavior, or appearances which were not true to their personalities or lifestyles, striving to be people they deemed successful. They may desire to be elite or even desire to be more grounded. Others were not allowed to be themselves even as children and strive to discover who they are, as much as they may try to flourish as themselves. In such cases it can be very difficult for you to say who you are, or how you get there. I don’t believe it impossible, but certainly it is very difficult.
Personally, I have always sensed that I was a little too old a little too early and a little too quickly. My parents did their best to preserve who I was so that I may live as I was, but the world caught up with me and led to the death of a child by a thousand tiny slights and a few verifiable stabbings. At some point in your life, you realize what is happening, and you fight against it, preserving for our children what you once had or wished you had or wish you had again. It is why people tend to, if not become conservative, then at least respect the conservative position with age.
I have identified the self with something independent of affectations. The validity of this may be debated. But to me it is clear that the more you know, the more affectations you must have, and it is much easier to withstand the onslaught without losing the vitality of life, if you were allowed to be yourself when you were young.