UBC Stories: Are first impressions everything?

"Should we manage our outward personas for the sake of our social survival?" File Elizabeth Wang

Perception is everything. How we interpret other people’s impression of us can be powerful or demoralizing; it’s all about how you let it affect you.

As someone who stomps around campus with RBF (resting bitch face), I know there’s more to me than just a less-than-happy looking face. So, I wanted to investigate who else feels misrepresented, betrayed by their appearance, or simply doesn’t care?


Year: First

Major: CAPS

What do you think people’s first impression of you is?

A lot of people think I’m stupid. They didn’t think I’d come (to UBC). They thought I wouldn't get in. I think it’s because I’m white so they think I’m dumb.

Does it bother you?

Nah, I know I’m not stupid. I think it’s because I’m blonde right now.

They see the lashes and blonde hair and just assume things based on your appearance?

Yeah, they think I’m an ABG. And ABG’s are the smartest.


Year: Third

Major: Psychology

What do you think people’s first impression of you is?

People usually think I’m nice, because I’m always smiling.

What’s something you wish more people knew about you?

Just that I’m really empathetic. I feel like I can take on other people’s emotions really well and know what they’re feeling.

Is there anything else you want the readers to know about first impressions?

Well, just knowing from my friends, they look mean and they tend to say that most people don’t approach them, especially when they’re new to a place. Just to give people a chance and warm up to them.


Year: Fourth

Major: Psychology

What do you think people’s first impression of you is?

That I’m dumb.

What makes you think that?

With the blonde hair and I played sports and stuff; People don't see that I do well in school.

Does it bother you?

I think it is a bit annoying. People are really stereotypical, especially how people are portrayed in movies. If you look at blonde girls dating good guys, they’re usually kinda dumb, kinda promiscuous.

What do you wish people knew about you?

I kinda wish people knew that I’m way more soft and nerdy than I lead on… Last week, I started making a DnD character with my boyfriend. I’m [also] obsessed with Catan right now [and] I play Pokemon Go everyday as I'm walking to class.


Year: Fourth

Major: English literature, minor in creative writing

What do you think people’s first impression of you is?

I mean, I always change things like my hair colour [and] people probably think, “you’re a badass” or “you probably listen to heavy metal or something really alternative”.

What do you think people stereotype you as?

Sometimes they can stereotype me as a fob [Fresh off the boat] Asian. My boyfriend’s friend also thought I was a geek, which I kinda am. I look like I may be a really quiet person who wants to stay home, but there’s so much more to me than people [know].

What are some of the things people might find surprising about you?

I like the Twilight fandoms. I was labelled as the Twilight chick in high school. And also, I’m a bit of a Tim Burton fan. Specifically, Nightmare Before Christmas.

Psychology says the majority of us can’t help but want to be liked. It’s an innate need for belonging that drives our desire for acceptance. Knowing this, should we manage our outward personas for the sake of our social survival? I guess the answer depends on you. Jay Shetty once said, “we live in a perception of a perception of ourselves." In other words, we have a tendency to see ourselves through other people’s eyes. In doing so, we base our self-worth on someone else’s impression of us. Sounds silly doesn’t it?

If there’s one thing I learned, it’s that we can’t help making snap judgements, yet it’s something all of us wish we’d stop doing.