The Tough Reality About First Impressions
Once I was asked a simple question: If you could choose what your first impression on someone was, what would you make it? I thought and thought and realized I had no idea. Of course, I would like them to think I was nice, charming even, but if that’s all they thought I was would they also assume I was shallow and vain? If i wanted them to think I was smart would they also think I was egotistical? No matter what direction I went in, I couldn’t think of a “perfect first impression.” And maybe that’s because they’re impossible to create. Maybe judging someone instinctively and without hesitation makes it impossible to form an actual solidly, good first impression on another human without revealing any faults. This idea leads to an interesting topic, something which I have been wary of venturing into because I have no real solution to it, just thoughts.
Today I’m gonna talk about what I think is possibly the hardest, most draining, self-degrading and harmful thing that we all do, without exception: comparing ourselves to others. Again, let me reiterate that I am not about to write about some magical solution that I have come up with that’ll allow you to stop comparing yourself to your friends, peers, family, even strangers, because, truthfully, I got nothing. It is innate, instinctive and so engrained in us I doubt we even notice that we do it most of the time. Even animals do it. You see lions vying for the position of alpha male because they want to be superior to all others. They, just like us, feel insecure when someone threatens their position in society, their carefully crafted niche within their community. To be completely honest, I don’t see an issue with comparison- at least some of the time. Sometimes, people need that comparison, that competition, to drive themselves forward, to make themselves better. But I know that too much of it is unhealthy. I know that when you meet someone for the first time and the first thing you can think about is how much better or worse you are than them it’s unstoppable but scary. It’s disgusting- how much we can judge someone, sort them into categories and place them into small boxes after just minutes of conversation. Again, I wish I didn’t do it, but I know I do.
So what do I suggest we do about it. Again, I have no idea. The answer to the question that I discussed above was exactly that as well. I said I didn’t know, I said I wasn’t sure but as long as it made the person that I met want to speak to me again, I also didn’t really care. We, as humans, will never not be able to stop making snap judgements of others. We will always create first impressions of others that are partly based on our own biases and past. It is inevitable. I think the best thing we can do is accept that we do it and maybe try to focus on the positives when meeting someone else. If we meet someone who we think is funny but maybe if we judge them as slightly crass, try and push past, at least until after one more meet up, because what if that person turns out to be your best friend, soul mate, colleague. It’s a challenge and one that I am not always up to but I think it’s important to try because the more you look for the positive attributes in others, the more you’ll be willing to look for them in yourself.