things are not what they seem

I just started a new job and have been meeting so many people over the last month or so. It’s one part big change because I worked at my previous school for eight years. Although there were always new staff to meet, I was also familiar with all the same folks who had been working there previously.

The other big change, though, has to do with COVID. It’s been so strange to meet new people and only see half of their faces, as we’re all masked up. When I see people I already knew in the before times, my brain fills in the bottom half of their faces because I already know what they look like. The masks haven’t changed my ability to see folks, because my brain is already filling in the gaps. Meeting new people, though, has been a wild experience. When I see them with their masks, I make assumptions about what the rest of their face looks like. Without consciously thinking about it, I already form a vision of what I believe their noses, mouths, chins must look like. Our brains are forever looking for patterns, making meaning where there is a gap or a lack of something. And that’s all well and good until we join each other for a virtual meeting or we unmask outside to eat and I’m shocked to see their entire faces.

Some people have looked kind of like I imagined, but a lot have thrown me for a loop. It’s like I’m suddenly meeting a brand new person. I have to realign all of my previous memories and experiences with them because it turns out that I was with a stranger. It’s incredibly jarring, but I also don’t want to let on that they look nothing like I imagined (that feels rude, right?), so I try to keep my shock to myself. I hope I’ve been successful, but I don’t know for sure. Here’s hoping!

prompt #49:

In keeping with this week’s intro, today’s prompt is simply to respond to the phrase “things are not what they seem.” Set yourself a five-minute timer and let yourself go. Follow whatever flights take your fancy as you reflect on that phrase. And, when you’re done, send it my way if you’d like to share it in next week’s newsletter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *