People are not one size fits all. We have to change and adapt based on the situation. You can’t always stay the same and thrive. It goes back to nature. The animals least specialized to a single environment are the most successful. Ants are a good example of this. Their adaptivity makes them versatile, and their versatility makes them successful. While this idea holds true for humans physically, it also is true socially and mentally. One type of personality will not work in every situation. A type of literacy is knowing when to be what type of person, and how you can change how you show yourself, as well as how you can use this skill to your advantage
Every school is its own microcosm, with its own ecosystems and communities. Every school has its own culture, which can vary greatly from any other place. Coming back to school and the culture that comes with it from summer can be a shift, and it takes a certain type of literacy to get through the transition.
I crossed the familiar streets for the first time in three months. The light at Market and 22nd tricked me again and changed at the last minute, forcing me to walk on the opposite side of the street. I walked by the faded murals, under the bridges with their proto-stalagmites caused by the rain. Soon I was walking the seven or eight steps necessary to reach the scanner, and slapped my ID on it to tell the district that yes, I, Asher Swartz, did indeed show up for the first day of school this year. I ascended the stairs, taking them two at a time; not out of excitement, but habit. I pulled open the door, a little too forcefully as usual, and strode into the Pool. My usual table was not there, which put a damper on things. Neither were any of the chairs, on the entire second floor, it seemed. I leaned against a wall. Soon, the people started to trickle in. Some my friends, some not. I tried to be quieter than usual. Even though it was Sophomore year, I still had to make a good impression. I tried to keep calm, not being too loud or in the way. I quickly slipped into the old habits. Exorcising “well” from my vocabulary, changing my speech patterns, not in an attempt to fit in but to be my “school self”.
“Yup,” I replied, lowering my voice only slightly, “So. How’re things?” I remembered the old rhythms, and adjusted myself accordingly. I had an image to uphold, after all.
Gloria Anzaldua has experiences with this technique, albeit in a different way. She, as a self proclaimed Chicano, speak many languages (and dialects of languages), eight by her count. But she doesn’t speak them all interchangeably, she uses them for specific purposes. She describes when she uses each language in the following: “With Mexicanos I’ll try to speak either Standard Mexican Spanish or the North Mexican dialect. From my parents and Chicanos living in the Valley, I picked up Chicano Texas Spanish and I speak it with my mom, younger brother, aunts and older relatives. With Chicanas from from Nuevo México or Arizona I will speak Chicano Spanish a little, but often they don’t understand what I’m saying. With most Californian Chicanas I speak entirely English (unless I forget). When I first moved to San Francisco I’d rattle off something in Spanish, unintentionally embarrassing them. Often it is only with another Chicana tejana that I can talk freely.” The last few sentences really highlight the importance of choosing how what you act like. Even though Anzaldua is changing languages, not personalities and mannerisms, the idea is the same. She is tailoring herself to the situation. She wouldn’t speak the Chicano Spanish to someone who wouldn’t understand it, as that wouldn’t be an effective way to communicate. Switching languages and switching personalities aren’t very different from one another.
Learning how to fit yourself to different situations is an important type of literacy to have. With it you can make the most out of almost any situation, and improve many aspect of life. And it doesn’t really change who you are, just what they see, whoever they may be. You may still be the same person inside, but what you show is your choice. And when you have options, you have versatility. When you have versatility, you have adaptability. When you have adaptability, you have success.