How Do I Look?

It is one thing to be self-conscious and another to be overly critical and more extreme, to be judgmental.

That’s perhaps one of the frailties of being human. The tendency to think that I could sort out another’s personality just by how the way the other person looks like – to me. Not fair, I know but that’s just the way of the world.

At one time, a lifetime ago in fact, I went to the ladies room. It was full as it was noon break so you can just imagine how many ladies were there beautifying themselves before going back to their workstations – perhaps to appear beautiful to their monitors, to their notebooks, their pens, or what-not’s that are scattered all over their desks… unlikely that it was for the purpose of catching somebody else’s attention – as no one can be seen from behind the computer monitor once you’re seated. Anyway, going back to the ladies’ room, I did my thing, washed my hands and was silently going out of that cramped room when one of the ladies in there shouted “Wow, conceited!” a comment apparently directed at me. At that time, I did not take notice of it as I’ve said, I was in a hurry to get away from there. It just so happened that the lady who shouted the comment was seated next to me. She told me of the incident in the ladies’ room and I asked her what she meant by that. She said that since I was there, wasn’t it part of the ritual to look at the mirror and check my looks? I was taken aback by that and I told her just that; and merely answered that I went there for one purpose. Since that was done, I washed my hands, and with the number of ladies retouching their makeup, I went out. I also said I felt all right with how I looked. Seems like I did a mortal sin with regards to rituals in the ladies’ room. Forgive me for my ignorance.

Well, back then also, there was this nun from whom I frequently asked permission to borrow visual aids for my social sciences subjects. Whenever I entered her office, she would wave me aside to her assistant and instructed the assistant to just see to whatever my business was. I can’t remember having the opportunity to talk to her that I may have said something that offended her that she cast me aside every time I walk into her office. Do I offend? Perhaps — I thought as I was always brushed off by this nun. Later that school year, that same sister was in charge of our faculty meeting. As she was running down the names of the key speakers for that event, she came across my name and she asked her assistant who I was. The assistant of course told her all about me and all she said was, “Why? What is she going to talk about? Isn’t she a little too young to be part of this?” Ahem.

Then came my part at that Faculty meeting. I was to render a 10-minute talk about teaching methodology for Philippine culture. All in all, my speech because I was so nervous, just took half the allotted time. After my delivery, everybody was so quiet and I thought, “Oh no, everybody fell asleep on me.” However, the same nun who said I was too young, was the first one to applaud and then all the rest did the same. The one comment I can never forget then was, Well, this is someone we ought to watch out for!”

How do I look? Do I really deserve to be spared some amount of one’s precious time? Or should I be brushed off like a pest, unworthy of one’s attention? I don’t really know and I do not really feel it’s important if people do not take notice of me – in fact, I prefer it. The irony is, my work actually called for that as I was a College Instructor of general education subjects and my students had to pay attention to what I have to say; otherwise, they wouldn’t pass and cannot proceed on to their higher level subjects.

So, what I wanted to point out here is this: First impressions do last, however, there is always the second chance if you do not pass the first test. You see, I may look real pretty to you but if you spoke to me, my voice might be irritating or there’s really nothing in there but air between my ears. So, would you rather have that pretty face and do away with substance? Or is substance more important?

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