First Impressions & Reputations

In my long life, spanning 16 years, I’ve come to realize that first impressions are overrated.

In fact, forget first impressions. Forget the polite shaking of hands, the small smile, the quiet giggles and the shallow small talk about the weather and school.

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First impressions shouldn’t even exist. For me, they don’t even matter because my first impressions of people, and their first impressions of me, have been proven wrong so many times.

Okay let me talk about a teacher that I had this year. You see, I’ve kind of run into this teacher on more than one occasion before I actually had him. And let me tell you, I hated him.

As you know, I’m kind of involved in my school’s publications. I had to interview this teacher during my sophomore year, and after 12 long minutes of pain and torture, I deduced that it was the worst interview experience I ever had. I lost all of my normal, professional composure, stuttered my words, forget to request for permission to record….

It was terrible. That teacher was mean, rude – and I was scared, timid.

Later, that summer, I accidentally bumped into him during freshman orientation. And he said, “Move! Get out the way!” I don’t forget bad experiences, ever. So naturally, I scampered off into the crowd of freshman with my camera and again, was scared out of my mind.

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And then I saw his name on my schedule and cursed to myself. I begged everyone to switch teachers with me, but of course, with his notorious reputation, no one wanted to. I dreaded this class so much on my first day of school. I remember wincing as the cold air conditioning nipped my face, trembling as I sat on the very edge of my seat, hands clasped in an awkward clutch underneath my desk.

Fast forward to today, and you guessed, it: this class is my favorite class, as this teacher is my favorite teacher.

My first impression of this harsh, yet lovable was terrible – cruel, unusual, full of hatred. But that changed.

As for me, I have a certain reputation for being a stuck up, know-it-all. I know that reputation followed my every footstep, last year. You see, I was placed in classes that didn’t really have bright, enthusiastic, attentive students. I was in classes full of juniors last year (I was a sophomore). And our junior class, well has their own reputation for not exactly being the greatest as well. Naturally, as I raised my hand, eagerly asked questions and fired back responses, my classmates were annoyed. To them, the classroom was a place of death, not of growth. So what they do, is sit back, take notes, and quietly glare at the instructor before them. Me, I live off of speaking and discussion. I’m a loudmouth, no doubt about it. Thus, every time I answered a question, I heard whispers and snickers behind my head, raising the hairs on my neck. I got used to it after awhile, but shame they judge by our society’s stereotype, that smart people are “nerdy try-hards.”

Last week, as I was skyping with my friend, he said

“You know what Kristie, you’re different from the rumors.”

Flabbergasted, I asked,

“What rumors?”

And then he explained. Word on the street was that I was super annoying, loud, always talking, the in-your-face kind of student. I laughed, because I was already aware by those rumors. He said I was different because I wasn’t like the rumors; I had a great personality, I was funny, I was not a know-it-all.

I’m kind of like Hermione Granger in Harry Potter. In class, people knew her as the “insufferable know-it-all git,” but to Ron and Harry, she was their best friend.

And I guess the point of this blog post was to say, you can’t judge people until you really get to know them. I know, it’s the most cliche thing you’ve ever heard me say on here, but it’s true, I promise.

You can’t judge people based on your shallow perceptions that are established during your mere 2.6 seconds of prejudice.

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