Lately I’ve been thinking about appearances and the way that people represent themselves to the world. Sometimes people think that this is just an issue with teenaged people, but I refuse to believe that at the age of twenty people just suddenly stop caring what people think about them. They may think that they’ve stopped caring, but there’s still the chance that they’re hoping people will see them as someone who doesn’t care what people think about them.

This thought-process began a few days ago when I got to my Seminary class early. I have Seminary after lunch, so when I’m finished eating, I just go and hang out all by myself in the classroom. Fortunately, the classroom has a piano in it. I am not a pianist, but I can read the notes and I can play a few songs that I taught to myself. The important thing is that I love to play on the piano. You can play all of the notes at once if you want to. You can’t do that on a violin or other string instrument, though you can play four different notes, which is more than most band instruments (a constant weapon used in friendly Orchestra v.s. Band debates).

My list of songs that I can play is short: Late by Ben Folds, Nevermore by Queen, Loss of Me (Final Fantasy… IX?), Zanarkand (Final Fantasy X), Letting Go by Isaac Shepard, and Prison Food by Ben Folds. Each one of them, I learned painstakingly by doing the right hand first and then the left and then putting them together. It took me almost a year to learn to play Late.

Anyway, every day I would go into my Seminary classroom and play my songs on the piano until class started. Sometimes people are in the classroom before I stop playing and on this particular day, there was a sophomore girl in there and she asked me why I never played the piano during our opening hymn, seeing as I’m “so talented on the piano.”

I thanked her for thinking this, but then, as always, I had to explain to her that learning to play songs is very difficult to me, not to mention hymns (they’re just SO HARD to play… I don’t know what it is), not to mention playing the hymn while everyone else is singing. I think that whenever I tell someone that I’m not really all that good at playing the piano, they don’t quite believe me (seriously, though, I just dabble a little in playing the piano). Actions speak louder and whatnot because they just don’t seem to be able to believe that I’m not good at playing the piano after they’ve just heard me play a complicated sounding song.

It set me thinking, naturally. Because most of those sophomores in my class only ever see me playing pretty songs on the piano and answering questions philosophically, they will have a totally different perspective of me than that of the sophomores who are in my Orchestra class who are every day witnesses to my mistakes, bad jokes, and inability to be serious when I’m doing something that I enjoy so much. It’s not that I’m trying to seem like a different person, because I’m not, but because of the specific situation, I seem like a type of person that I’m not. Well… I am that person, but that’s not all I am.

This is one of the reasons that I almost (ALMOST) feel bad for judging people on Facebook. People post dumb things on Facebook. Heck, I post dumb things on Facebook. Some of those people posting things on Facebook are people that I don’t see every day. The only information that I have to judge them with (because everyone inevitably judges everyone else) is the stuff they provide for me via Facebook. It doesn’t even matter if I see them every day or not, actually, because I treat them as a different person. People seem different in real life than they do on Facebook and sometimes, when I’m dealing with one, I forget that the other exists.

Sometimes, when I am in a certain situation, I forget that all of the other me’s in all the other situations exist. For example, in my first hour class, AP Chemistry, I am tired-Emily. Tired-Emily makes bad jokes and laughs at everyone else’s bad jokes and doesn’t understand Chemistry. In my second hour class, Digital Photography, I am impatient-Emily who understands nearly everything that is being talked about and really would just like to get a move on. Impatient-Emily also gets really annoyed by the giggly girls who don’t understand anything about computers. It’s hypocritical because just an hour early, I was pretty giggly because of tiredness and I didn’t understand everything.

AP Chemistry-Emily is the real me. That’s how I act and I really don’t understand a lot of what we talk about. Digital Photography-Emily is the real me as well. I understand everything that he tells us and I want to just keep moving forward. I’m not pretending to be a different person, I don’t have multiple personality disorder, I’m just reacting differently to different situations.

This happens whenever I change situations. When I go to school, when I go to my next class, when I go to a friend’s house or a party, when I go home, I react differently to the situation depending on how comfortable I am with the people around me or wherever it is that I am or whatever it is that I am doing.

Sometimes I find it infinitely hard to remember that people are reacting differently to different situations before I judge them and sometimes I find it really easy. One good example is with driving. My mother likes to yell at people on the road, which is a perfectly legitimate way to deal with frustrations, but I think that she, like most people who get enraged with other people who are driving, has failed to factor in some things. I am almost positive that people yell at me all the time whilst I am driving. I am bad at driving. I am really bad at driving. I’m surprised I haven’t died in a fiery crash yet. So, what if the person who my mom is yelling at for cutting her off is some timid student driver who doesn’t know what they’re doing? If my mother, or anyone else, knew the person’s situation would they react differently to the situation? Maybe not, but I never get angry at people who are bad at driving because I’m probably worse.

Likewise, whenever someone does something that really annoys me, I really try to understand why they’re doing what they’re doing. Sometimes it’s the way they pronounce a word incorrectly and all I have to think about is the development of speech in children. Children learn how to speak by listening to their parents and other speaking people around them. They probably heard the word they’re saying wrong said wrong a million times, which would mean that it’s not necessarily their fault that they’re saying it wrong. I’m not sure whose fault it is, but it doesn’t really have to be anyone’s fault. This way, I can be annoyed with how imperfectly the person was taught to speak instead of being annoyed with them personally.

It doesn’t always work, but it is a good strategy most of the time.

It constantly interests me to try to imagine what I appear as to people in a certain situation. An action that may not be significant to me because I’ve lived through all of the other situations/reactions in my life may be significant to someone who can only see one reaction to one situation.

Hope this makes you all EXTREMELY self-conscious for the rest of your lives.