Cue Fergie’s “Glamorous” and lay down the red carpet; UMD’s newest queen bee has officially arrived. Scratch that. Cue Weird Al Yankovic’s “White and Nerdy” and take out your Purell; UMD’s nerdiest newbie has made her way to the clean streets of College Park.
First impressions are everything. Even if you classify yourself as the forgiving and non-judgmental type (and you’re lying), there is no way you’ll be equally as inclined to befriend the comp-sci guy with greasy hair and pepperoni pimples in the room next to you than you will be to chat up the psych chick with silky, satin locks and twinkling white teeth in the room across the hall. With a blossoming reputation on the line, my first impression has to be flawless. Otherwise, I’ll be the journalism junkie, hiding under stacks of books and slices of pizza.
In kindergarten, the dry-mouthed, crinkly-eyed librarian taught me to never judge a book by its cover. As a visual learner, I instinctively judge everything based on appearance. Programmed into this labyrinthine brain of mine is the ability to read people. However, this skill… or shortcoming… has allowed me to look beneath the surface. Unfortunately for me, not all people possess this trait, leaving me vulnerable to judgment based on whether I wear shower shoes or not (which I promise I will do).
Flashback to seventh grade, or what I like to call “my glory days.” As a soloist in the choir, star of the cross country AND track teams and the only girl that was able to get away with wearing bedazzled Ed Hardy sneakers (a private school no-no), I was basically the it girl. Not many words come to mind when I reflect on seventh grade, none except “puberty.” My seventh grade year was one of growth, emotionally and physically (mostly physically).
The older I got, the bigger I got. No longer could I thrive off microwave popcorn and Reese’s cups without the worry of moving from a size twelve to fourteen at the all-holy Abercrombie. However, I had much more important things on my mind than what my body looked like. Lucky for me, my new school principal had more than enough time to take notice of my growing figure.
The dress code for girls was as follows: loose-fitted, solid colored polo shirts and loose-fitted, solid-colored khakis. Basically, the girls had to dress like the guys. So when my boobs outgrew my training bras and my butt finally made its debut, my loose-fitted polos and khakis weren’t so loose anymore. That’s when trouble ensued.
By the second day of seventh grade, I was already in the new principal’s office. I was force fed a lecture about “respecting my body” and “being conservative,” which turned into an afternoon of advice that tasted almost as bad as my mom’s meatloaf. What she didn’t understand was that I was halfway through season two of Zoey 101 and didn’t have time to consider how tight my pants were.
My intentions weren’t to get all the prepubescent, puny punks to check out my new “junk in the trunk.” Instead, I was trying to avoid another trip with my mom to the hell I called Lands’ End. Despite my innocent intentions, the school principal labeled me as the “school slut” (though I hadn’t even had my first kiss yet), and made the rest of my middle school years a nightmare. Since, I’ve made sure to make lasting first impressions and buy new pants.
Yet, as I am well aware, many of the people that I will meet my first week of college will be just as judgmental as my middle school principal.
“Actions speak louder than words:” a cliché that will make or break my first impression and later, college reputation. It’s different for a guy to tell me that he is a gentleman than it is for him to hold the door to the 24-hour dining hall open for me. All of the little things are essential when it comes to making a good first impression.
If I were to base my relationship with comp sci guy on my first impression of him, I’d never learn about his self-run computer software that allows me to have wifi wherever I go. And if I judged the psych chick on my first impression of her, I’d learn about her obscene OCD after it’s too late to escape. So when it comes to my own first impression, I have every intention of proving who I am by what I do, not what I say.
But even then, filtering every routine activity becomes impossible and again, leaves me susceptible to improper judgment.
If you sit in the front row of your lectures, you’re “a suck up.” If you come into your dorm room late at night, you’re “a skanky slut.” If you’re caught eating alone in the dining hall, you’re “a friendless loser.” Without knowing it, I have officially branded myself with permanent marker and my chances of redemption are slim. So I repeat, first impressions are everything.
I will sit in the front row of my journalism history lecture because sitting closer keeps me attentive and allows me to get to know my professor more personally. I will come into my dorm room late because I probably forgot my key card in my dorm room and had to wait for another person in my hall to show up. I will eat alone in the dining hall because I don’t have enough time between classes to walk across campus to meet friends for a 10 minute meal. I refuse to fall victim to judgment based on false impressions of my character. And yes, you can quote me on that when I’m rich and famous.
I’m expecting hardcore judgment my first week in college. So cue Justin Bieber’s “Baby,” toss me a pair of hot pink Crocs and hand me a Star Wars light saber because I’m ready to fight off all the judgment that college has to offer.