One of my favorite discussions of free will and determinism is found in a passage in Madeleine L'Engle's classic A Wrinkle in Time. Here, one of the characters compares our lives to a sonnet. She makes the point that a sonnet is a very strict form of poetry, with exactly fourteen lines, a strict meter, and each line ending in a rigid rhyme pattern. And yet within this strict structure the poet has complete freedom. And so it is with life. "You're given the form," the character says. "But you have to write the sonnet yourself. What you say is completely up to you."
My friend and musical collaborator David McMillen once asked me where self-expression fit into my Style Development philosophy, since I tend to work a little backwards when it comes to discovering and developing your style persona. I believe that many of the questionnaires that we endlessly fill out to determine "who we are" in order to know what to wear are a waste of time. I think in most cases it is more valuable to figure out how you want the world to perceive you FIRST. This provides you with a structure.
So my answer to David was that self-expression is then how you personalize the structure...how you "color inside the lines"...
...how you write your sonnet.
(For more information on style and wardrobe planning, please visit my Wardrobe Planning Website.)