Apple Tea and Annie – Perceiving Ourselves

June 25, 2015

copper leaf flower ivy dorking halls arts exhibit

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about how we present ourselves. I’m not the kind of person who really goes in for a lot of care or thought when it comes to my outward appearance – and I don’t just mean my physical appearance, I mean my outward behaviour, the things I say,

how I’m perceived. I suppose I’m quite self-involved in that I never stop to think how people see me, and on another level I guess I figured I can’t control how people see me anyway, so why bother? How I come across to other people isn’t on my radar at all and consequently I’m not very self-aware – I leave most of the observations to others.

One of my friends takes pride in essentially curating herself – heavily editing her online profiles, her outfits and even her life choices so that they fit in with the aesthetic and ambience she wishes to inspire in people. She spends a lot of time on pinterest and blogs, looking for people she’d like to be like; Brigitte Bardot, Lolita, Princess Peach. She has a thousand self-portraits. I have another friend who celebrates wearing bright clothes and has an “edgy” style, something that has come to define her and which she says makes her appear more confident to other people, despite her insecurities. I’m the opposite of both those thought processes. I rarely base my choices on what fits in with how I wish to be perceived. In fact, I’m the opposite. I obviously choose to wear clothes I like, or listen to music I like, but I don’t think apart what all these disparate choices combine into and what kind of impression they, and consequently I, might leave on a person.


I’m aware that perhaps if I cared more about how I came across I could create a more interesting persona for myself, or build a bigger audience. Maybe I’m naive to think that just allowing myself to do what I want and letting that dictate who I am is enough to make for an interesting, likable person. I’m now in my mid-twenties, and it’s an interesting perspective. Most of my friends are a few years out of university and in the creative sector, like me, and my friend tapestry is a patchwork of those achieving their dreams, those taking the scenic route and living life to the full, those stuck in a bit of a rut and those stressing out that they have no idea what to do next. I tend to think of myself as largely ok; certainly nowhere near the top of the success stories but doing alright in my chosen career and happy with myself.

I choose the things I like, and whatever jumbled, mixed-up collage that creates (for example, right now: drinking apple tea, listening to Frank Sinatra, sat in the garden in shorts and an Annie Golden t shirt, writing) is who I am. I just accept it. Perhaps a more stylised ideal of myself would be sat in a London park, wearing a pretty gingham dress and eating fresh bagels. Or drinking coffee, listening to Chet Baker and wearing black. Who cares? I don’t really aspire to be either of those tableaus. All I am is the version of me that’s happened today. I don’t really aspire to appear any different to who I actually am and whatever I actually do, and I don’t read too much into this; the tableaus are what they are; guided by my tastes and impulses alone with no guiding hand to curate, to edit, to align. I never think “I want to be the kind of person who does this”. I just do what I want. And maybe as I get older, that’s not enough?

12 comments so far.

12 responses to “Apple Tea and Annie – Perceiving Ourselves”

  1. SPVF says:

    That was a great post. I think people like to say that appearances don’t matter, what you wear don’t matter, and how people see you don’t matter. In my opinion though, if it matters to you then it does matter. I like to think of it more than just the clothes you wear though – it is how you feel inside when you wear those things. I believe that the energy that you put out into the world is what comes back at you. It’s more than the concept of karma; it’s more like instant karma. 🙂 For instance, in school why are “cliques” form? It’s not because of what they wear…it’s the attitude/thoughts/energy that each individual has relevant to the people they hang out with. Thank you for sharing this – it was a great read.

    http://citadelofthoughts.com

    • tapeparade says:

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment! I agree, I guess in the cases of my two friends it is mostly surface choices (such as clothes and music, like I mentioned). But I agree with you energy is a big part of it. Can you choose what energy you give out though? I don’t know, these are only things I’ve started contemplating recently. Thanks again for your thoughts. X

      • SPVF says:

        Absolutely you can choose the energy you put out. I think most people go about it unconsciously and they simply choose to feel what others “make” them feel. Whether is aggression, sadness, annoyance, whatever emotion. Truth is, you control your own emotions even in most pressing conditions. When someone is rude to you for instance you can choose to be angry and insult them back …or you can choose to confront them ask them what their problem is and if all they can come up with is another insult towards you then just smile and say “you clearly have some personal issues to work out – you have no business taking it out on me” and walk away (humming a happy song preferably). You can change your emotions from negative to positive really quickly – by listening to a song you really like, watching a movie, writing, or whatever but you have to choose to change it you can’t just expect others or anything to do it for you.

  2. jennie says:

    I used to think about these things a lot and definitely curated my clothes, the things I chose to like to fit in with the particular look and vibe I wanted to radiate. But it was all so much effort! And now my only real goal is to live authentically & be nice to people. And if they like me and want to hang out then that’s great, and if not, that’s okay too. xx

    • tapeparade says:

      I guess I’ve gone the opposite- it’s gone from something that I never thought about and now it’s something I at least notice, even if I don’t particularly care. X

  3. Denise says:

    Dear Laila, there is so much I could or would like to say, exchanging ideas with you about the topic… it’s a great topic, by the way. First of all, what you are is “enough to make for an interesting, likable person”, by the way – and if people don’t like you the way you are, well, that’s their problem, Do what you like, of course, not hurting people – but even that, it’s the way they take someone’s words. I have a “friend” who constantly tells me bad things – but alas, that’s my perception. I know she is blunt and very very competitive, but well, that’s her way – either I accept it or I say good-bye. One thing I learned is that we will never please everybody. Now, comes to the point I love – or dislike as well. Doing things, dressing the way people “like”. In my opinion, that’s soooo ridiculous. But that’s just my opinion, people who like it, well, go ahead with what pleases them. That friend I mentioned wants a big audience, super cool photos, photoshop everything and tells me “I want to inspire people by what I wear”. I like her for many reasons and who am I to judge anybody – but I told her that oh please, do we need to inspire people by wearing Zara or H & M? Isn’t it really inspiring helping people who need a comforting word? But clothes? The world is so chaotic. Good principles are not in fashion. Only greed, fake pictures and fake values. But alas, I am wearing a gingham skirt on Monday 🙂 But I dont photoshop pictures – the most I do is a filter to look retro or fairy, for some makeup sometimes 🙂 Hope you have a great weekend and please don’t change – you are right on your thoughts, believe me!
    DenisesPlanet.com

  4. Kirsty says:

    What a lovely and refreshing post. I’m guilty of pruning and preening myself a lot of the time but I always do it for myself. I love makeup and fashion etc and I like having a bit of ‘me’ time. However there are many days I leave the house with zero makeup on, wearing a tatty old clothes and looking a bit of a ‘mess’ just because I feel like it. I think too much time is spent on just looking at the exterior of each other when we can tell so much more by looking into someones soul.

  5. Priya says:

    Bravo Laila, authenticity is ultimately more interesting anyway! Isn’t it funny how with social media it is so easy to “curate” yourself (I love that by the way- never thought of it that way!) I think because of this people get so caught up in comparisons and get down on themselves. I’d be lying if I said looking on Facebook or Instagram never makes me feel that way! The thing to remember though, is that it IS a curated version of someone. Not the real thing.

    I say this though- and I love theatrics, and any moment that makes me feel like I’m in a movie. For example- when I got my bike and put a basket on it, I had to go to the store and ride home with a baguette in the basket. I HAD to 🙂

    ♥ perfectly Priya

  6. I just discovered your blog and it’s pretty fantastic. At the age of eighteen I would absolutely love to be like you – in other words, create my “own” image. But it’s easier to shape yourself to the world rather than for yourself, funnily enough. I’m not saying that I constantly try to be a reflection of what society expects, but I definitely do trip up sometimes. The fact that you are true to yourself and not what others expect from you is a rare quality, and one that you should cherish. So yeah, don’t change yourself – it’s more than enough. 🙂

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