I was a scrawny boy growing up, I was mostly intellectual, I didn't have many male role models, and most of my interaction with other boys was them bullying me. I joined track in middle school when I figured out I was good at that, but by that time I had no idea how to interact with the other boys. As all kids do, they were play-acting the roles they were given - Machismo mostly, in that case. I didn't know how to fit in with 'normal' kids because they all had been given role examples that fit them. I had Data and Spock and Gandalf, but they're not so good for learning face-to-face interactions.
When I joined the Marine Corps after high school, I had to interact with so many different types of people, many of which I had never experienced in person before. In my life experience so far, for men, it probably had the strictest gender role policing. For women though and despite the sexism, they got to ignore gender assignments for many of the roles they chose. I met women who hogged the freeweights at the gym, women who were drill instructors, Machiavellian politickers, lead-from-the-front Sergeants, tuba players, Dungeons and Dragons players, and all sorts of other stuff I had previously seen as male-only roles.
So yeah, between feeling left out by roles assigned to me that didn't fit and seeing others actively reject the roles assigned to them, I knew gender roles were performative and only vaguely tied to anything innate. All it took was finding the terminology to describe the ideas.
To answer the title question: I think we all pick and choose which roles we perform and when. Rarely consciously, and definitely with input from the people we're around and culture we're in. I choose how much I perform my intellectualism (I definitely toned it down while I was serving, for instance). I choose what to accent about my physicality by what clothing I wear, or how I grow my hair. I've come to enjoy cooking and cleaning at home, despite the (fortunately weakening) idea that it's women's work.
(As an aside: The intersection of sexuality and gender role expectations is supremely interesting - and also frustrating to deal with when you don't quite line up with what's expected of you.)
In a way, gender performance is like Jazz performance - there are rules and structures handed down culturally, but the player's artistry is in the improv. When you're the one performing, you get to choose which rules you follow and which rules you break. Not everyone's going to like it or agree with your decisions, but it's not their call to make anyway.
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