I like to imagine I come sweeping in to a room sophisticated yet humble, an enigmatic smile followed by a warm greeting. The reality of my first impression is probably the sound of my overly loud voice followed by a large body stumbling drunkenly in to the room and making an inappropriate joke before apologising. Or, the horror, people meet me and the only adjective they can find is ‘Oh she’s nice.’
Now I am an ex pat, an international teacher, in a transient world the possibilities for reinvention are limitless. First you have the opportunity, on arrival in your new job, school, country, to present an improved version of yourself to the world. Then each year people leave and new people arrive, you can readjust that version, cut off the corners, smooth down the edges. Not only that but my online worlds like Twitter and Facebook also allowed me to create the better version of myself, funnier, kinder, wittier. So underneath all this possibility for presentation can you hide the real you? Will those true traits come seeping out anyway? Oozing through the carefully crafted persona? Infiltrating the well-designed Luci 2.0?
I don’t consciously want to deceive people as to my true nature but like to make a good first impression. As I went to meet a group of new teachers, I thought carefully about what to wear. What image did I want to present of myself in those first few seconds? Serious? Sexy? Cool, sophisticated woman of the world. Would it matter? Would Luci still peep out from behind the layers, saying, “I don’t know what I’m doing, I’m an idiot”? I strive to be true to myself, I am not looking to significantly change. I believe that in essence I am a good being, and the people I want in my life will find me as I find them.
In teaching we have to consider first impressions. In that first meeting with a new class you can set down the boundaries, which last for the whole year. But a mistake at the start can take the whole year to undo. I struggled at the beginning of my teaching career, to find Ms Willis and balance her with Luci. Who was the teacher version of me? I knew Miss had to still be me but that I couldn’t be exactly the same as I was in RL, the swearing and drinking had to stop for a start…
I am comfortable now, after 15 years, can easily swap between the personas. Know who I am in the classroom better than I know how to be outside it. I am comfortable with the presentation of Miss; I’m just not always sure who Luci is.
So as I meet another group of new people, armed with my list of goals for the year, still using my Brazilian adventure to try and wipe off some of the stains on my character, can I succeed? Do I even want to? The endless battle between wanting to change and then the comfort of slipping in to easy interactions with people who have known you for years. I struggled with being back in UK as I could feel the ease in which my old life would return. Would all the Brazilian polish be lost as the safety of the familiar wrapped around me?
I want to take this opportunity to make a good first impression but I also want to find away to clean up. I don’t need dramatic change but I want to be different. The life I have now allows for reinvention but maybe I can use it for a quick tidy up. Chuck out a few of those bad thoughts, bad habits, laziness and doom that have haunted the recesses of my personality. This is an opportunity to change habits and expectations. If people have no preconceptions of you then it is easier to polish up and be a slightly improved version. I will run an update, some of the bugs will be fixed, until the next update is needed.