Whenever we meet someone for the first time, it’s hard not to form some kind of ‘first impression’ of them. It might be the way a person looks or dresses. The way they walk. The topics they choose to talk about. As human beings, it’s normal to form specific ideas about people before we truly get to know them. But what happens if these ‘first impressions’ are leading to an inaccurate judgement of someone? What if you’re closing yourself off from potential friendships and relationships because you think they’re not worth getting into? Luckily, my own experiences have taught me that it’s important to look beyond the ‘first impressions’.
Photo Credit: Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Who I am and who I appear to be
Those who know me personally know that I’m someone who rarely wears make-up. Who doesn’t follow fashion trends. Who doesn’t have a closet full of shoes. That’s just not me.
So, it’s easy to meet me for the first time and question the fact that I might wear track pants to pick up the kids from school. Or the fact that I’m only ever seen wearing two different dresses. I might come across as someone who doesn’t pride themselves on what they wear. Who doesn’t value ‘looking good’.
But I believe people shouldn’t be defined by the clothes they choose to wear. They shouldn’t be defined by how little or how much make-up they apply to their face. They shouldn’t be defined by their choice to wear track pants in public.
They should be defined, however, by how they treat the people around them. They should be defined by their values and morals.
I’m a prime example of someone who may appear a certain way, but on the inside I am really someone who feels there’s more to life than wearing an expensive pair of shoes. I’m someone who doesn’t care if their dress matches their handbag. And it’s okay that I’m that sort of person.
Learning from ‘first impressions’
To the same effect, I’ve formed ‘first impressions’ about others that have almost stopped me from getting to know them as well.
Earlier this year, I met a parent who was raising their children quite differently to mine. I was under the impression that this might get in the way of a potential friendship with this person. But rather than let this ‘first impression’ decide the future of a friendship, I followed my gut instincts. My gut instincts were telling me that it didn’t matter how this person ‘appeared’. All that mattered was their heart. Their kind and friendly nature. Their strong love for their children.
Now, 8 months later, this parent is actually one of my closest friends. They have made a massive difference to my life.
As much as our parenting styles still differ, I’ve seen how much this person loves their children and how loyal of a friend they are.
I’m so glad that I didn’t let these early ‘first impressions’ get in the way of a great friendship.
Moving past our own expectations
Sometimes, we might get to know people thinking we’re going to have a great impact on their life. But surprisingly, it’s them that impacts ours.
I think that sometimes we meet people and we have a check-list ready of items that we do and don’t like in a person – but life and people just aren’t that simple.
We’re bound to meet people that are different to us. People who challenge us to become better. People who teach us to relax and enjoy life. People who bring out the best in us.
I think that it’s so easy to make judgements about who someone is before we truly get to know them. It’s so easy to look at just the surface rather than what’s beneath it.
Imagine how much more fulfilling our lives would be if we gave others a better chance to show who they really are? If we open up our hearts to everyone, we could be opening ourselves up to greater chances at loving relationships and friendships.
We need to remember – as natural as forming ‘first impressions’ of others might feel, it’s quite possible for us to be off the mark.
If we want people not to judge us on ‘first impressions’, we have to be willing to do the same for others.
By changing how we look at other people, we are making positive and significant changes to our own lives.
Thuy Le (formerly known as Thuy Yau) is a freelance writer and Youth Work graduate living in Perth, Australia. She loves to share her own personal experiences about overcoming adversity, as she believes that human beings are more capable than they realise. She writes to make a positive difference in the world and to inspire others to learn from themselves and their own experiences. Her writing has been discussed on radio, won writing contests, appeared on The Huffington Post UK and major Australian sites such as news.com.au, SMH, Kidspot and Essential Kids. She is currently writing her first book.
4 thoughts on “When First Impressions are Wrong”
This was right on target to me and makes me applaud everything about avoiding the box of first impressions, and allowing people freedom to be themselves (and all that means). Thank you for you and I look forward to your next post!
Thanks, Mary Liz! I’m glad you could relate. It’s so easy to be caught up in how someone appears – we need to give people a chance to show what’s beneath the surface. Thanks for being such a loyal reader! 🙂
The old saying is that you only get one chance to make a first impression does hold true sometimes, but we do need to not judge people based on one meeting. Good post.
That’s true, Phil. Sometimes people can’t help but notice things about us on first impression! That’s when both parties being open-minded is essential. Thanks for your insightful comment! 🙂