First impressions or rationalized judgements?

First impressions or rationalized judgements?

I’ve been thinking about first impressions… mostly because a few people have recently expressed what their first impressions about me were. Mostly they were humorous, but each one expressed that they were surprised to find me different upon further acquaintance then they first believed. Thankfully, their opinion improved, but it got me thinking about some first impressions I’ve had of other people, and perhaps the unfair judgments I placed on them because of it.

I’ve gotten a lot better about not allowing the negative opinions of others to get me down, at least not for too long. It would be untruthful to say that I don’t care what other people think, because I totally do! But, I’ve been coming to the place where I feel progressively comfortable with who I am and who God is making me to be. I no longer feel as much pressure to be what everyone wants me to be. I can only be me, and I only want to be who God wants me to be.

However, these pesky first impressions aren’t doing me any favors. I have, for many years, realized that I don’t make the best first impressions. First off, new social settings make me uncomfortable and as such quite. I then sometimes over compensate and come across as very loud or very outgoing. This confuses people – and understandably so.

But rather than freaking out that everyone I meet will find me shy or obnoxious, I’ve been mulling over the conclusions I’ve jumped to about others. Here’s the tricky part, we can’t help what we observe. We can’t help that we don’t know people intimately when we first meet. The analysis of information and the forming of hypothesizes is as natural as breathing. This quick thinking keeps us safe in dangerous situations and gut feelings are often right. So I’m not saying we should throw aside all appearances and trust everyone. The warning inside of you not to follow the creepy looking guy into that dark ally is wise, not judgmental. However, in less extreme circumstances I think a little grace and leeway is allowed, if not necessary.

It is funny and sad that there are many people that I initially dismissed that became integral parts of my life. So, I’ve challenged myself to grow in this area – and really, that challenge is all about being open to possibilities. It’s about being open to the possibility that what you observe may not be accurate, that there are many reasons people act the way that they do, and many influences in our life that make us interpret those actions differently than they were intended.

In many ways we can’t help but be impressed by the actions of people when we first meet them, but perhaps we would all benefit from not holding fast to those impressions, rather allowing a person to grow, just as we wish to be allowed to grow.