what is the self? well, philosophers have long debated about the essence of a human being. some have come up with an answer, calling it dualism. in this dualistic approach, humans are comprised of two different substances: a physical entity and a physic entity.
I think, imagination and action. You imagine an identifying action and then commit to it. You are the hero of the story and you want others to see that hero in a certain light and so you play that role. Granted, my way of thinking is of the notion that we can decide who we are, shape our selves and guide our actions through realizing attitudes. Not everyone has dawned on that reality. Some people think of them selves as what the world has made them, they have no responsibility and feel completely out of control. Their self is but a product of circumstance. These people do not realize it, but they have made a choice as well, a choice to ignore their opportunity to not just be themselves, but be great. The essence of self is the freedom to imagine and choose how you interact with the world through actions.