This "person", this ME, has always been a work in progress.
Since we started learning language, we've always used labels and concepts to try to understand what THIS is. We learned about a "past", which is something we know from present memories. We learned about a "future", which is something we know from present anticipation, present imagination.
We see what is here - we see the actuality - but the mind "knows" what it is, the mind has a learned label for it, for that chair, for that wall, that carpet, that lamp. So, in the mind, the ACTUALITY of THIS is broken out into "things." This makes the world "easier" to understand, less frightening.
This process continues in reference to the present sensations and perceptions of the "body-mind". There appear to be arms sticking out from the center - here. There appear to be legs dangling from the center - there. Thoughts keep coming up. So what is this? What is this process? It must be ME.
So ME is another conceptual box the mind uses to qualify what is presently arising, those sensations and perceptions of arms and legs and breath and heartbeats and thoughts. There must be "someone" there - otherwise WHO would be seeing all this, WHO would be doing all this?
So which came first, the "person" who then learned that they were a "person" by acquiring language - the means by which to qualify everything? Or is this Awareness, this Consciousness, this present activity of knowing, primary, prior to the acquisition of language used to break everything into little pieces, to better understand the ACTUALITY of THIS?
As a child, the world was a mystery. There were no labels yet, no concepts or language used to identify everything. There was no concept of a ME - "I'm a little child and I want a bottle and I'm going to cry until I get it." No - the sensation of hunger arose and then the body cried out naturally. Only later did this little one learn that the perception of a bottle was called "bottle". And then later, it was learned that this space of knowing, this knowing of the actuality of this, was supposed to be called ME. And that sensation of hunger was "MY hunger".
So we've been building this sense of ME for a long time. It's evident when asked - who is reading these words? I AM.
"I" is a reference to this space of knowing, this space in which the ACTUALITY of THIS is arising effortlessly, only it's identified through learning language and through parents and society as the body and mind, because otherwise there is NOTHING to refer it to.
And how could "I" be NOTHING? Doesn't there have to be a name and a purpose and a life story? Doesn't there have to be a meaning? Doesn't there have to be a "someone" there?
Aren't these only more conceptual boxes? What were you before language?