By Kate Hakala
You head to a bar one night in an area that’s completely foreign to you, in a state you’ve never visited. As you walk in, you decide to get a martini and order from the barkeep. Then you turn around and notice, standing in the corner, a drag queen in a pink leotard holding a fiddle. Suddenly, you get a shiver done your spine, as this all seems overwhelmingly familiar. Too familiar. Unless this is one of those rare jet-setting drag queen troubadours, there’s no way this could have happened before. But you swear it has. You, my friend, have a major case of déjà vu.
What is déjà vu? Hint: It’s not just your favorite Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young album. Déjà vu is essentially an experience where there is an unexplainable sense of recognition, but with no real pretext or awareness for this genuine yet indescribable feeling. The term was first coined by French psychic Émile Boirac and literally means “already seen.” Since it was first talked about in the 1800s, neurobiologists have worked hard to contend with this ephemeral topic; there seems to be over fifty theories floating around about the cause of déjà vu. It’s not just a phenomenon for Frenchies. What makes déjà vu such a spooky, unsettling occurrence is that it can’t be verified or observed objectively, but it still remains a common and almost universally reported experience.
Don’t fret. There are some things about déjà vu that we do know for certain. About 70% of the population has reported experiencing it at least once, but in many cases multiple times in their life.