Have you ever considered what it feels like to be you? Jenny Salaman Manson has asked serveral people, and compiled their thoughts in a book, writes Nick Elvin

What does it feel like to be you? Ask a number of people that question, and each person is very likely to interepret it in a different way.

It’s a question Jenny Salaman Manson put to a work colleague many years ago, and this gave her the idea of asking people about their sense of self, and compiling their responses in a book.

What it Feels Like To Be Me is about being alone in our heads, offering a glimpse of how other people feel and to what extent do the various stages of life bring about different kinds of answers to the question.

“The idea occured a long time ago when I was in my 20s,” says the 61-year-old, who has spent her career in the Civil Service. “I asked someone at work what it felt like to be him, and he told me. Then, the next morning, he asked me if I had any more questions for him. I think being asked that question changed his life.”

But it was not until years later that Jenny decided to take things a step further and asked a number of people about their lives.

“I got terrifically positive answers and it needed very little editing,” says the former Colindale councillor, who has lived in the Golders Green area since 1974.

“When they talk about things honestly, you can’t help but warm to them. Everybody said it had affected them; they felt very surprised and pleased that someone could be interested in what thay had to say.”

In the book, people of all ages have shared their feelings about themselves, some talking about events in their life or other factors such as religion, phobias, growing old, and education.

Jenny believes people hide behind their appearance in order to get by in the world, and writing this book gave people the opportunity to peel back the layers.

“I think it’s a human condition to put a face on things.

“People from the outside might have such gorgeous lives. But living is quite hard going.”

What it Feels Like to be Me is published by O Books. Details www.whatitfeelsliketobeme.com