Last Friday I was walking through the hallway with an armful of newspapers and glasses that took up more than half my face. I thought I know what this looks like. There goes the English nerd with more pens than friends, the one whose fingertips are always black with ink, the one with the eyes that aren’t quite there. Eh…maybe not. The people around me would probably stop with “English nerd,” maybe add “no life” if they were feeling extra judgmental. People tend to take the easy way out.
It reminded me of my elementary school friends and their insistence they would love nothing more than to know what others thought of them. I disagree. In that moment, I was sure I knew how others perceived me. I didn’t want to be reduced to that. I will never know if my presumptions are accurate–I hope they are not–but that changes little. If we could see ourselves from another’s perspective, we would be on the outside looking out. All we would see is the blonde girl with the navy glasses and armful of newspapers. It would be a familiar but foreign image, and we would be detached from our interests, loves, hates, hobbies, crushes, obsessions, habits.
I realize now we can change that: we can portray ourselves in a way that forces outsiders to look at us the same way we look at ourselves. But this is improbable. There will always be passerby who scan us faster than an item at a checkout and label us just as quickly. They don’t care what our interests, loves, hates, and hobbies are. But if after I am scanned and labeled, I am filed with the “English nerds”–I will be happy.
That is all they need to know.