Monday, October 12, 2015

Flimsy First Impressions

     When I was living away from home, I made a friend who was blind, and it was one of my favorite moments ever. Becoming her friend allowed me to experience something I had always longed for, because she could not see the way I walked, and the only things she could base her opinion of me on were the things I said during our conversation.
     I thought of her this week when I was reminded by an awkward experience that meeting new people is something I'm not good at. I never seem to know the right thing to say, and I either ramble out of nervousness or just don't say much at all. Maybe this innate sense of awkwardness is a result of being so introverted, but it would be naive to not acknowledge that there is a noticeable difference between me and most of the world, and people will naturally include that difference in their first impression of me. If I happen to be sitting down when I'm introduced to someone, I always think about how I have a limited amount of time to show them my personality before they see me walking and wonder what exactly it is that makes me different. It's always been frustrating to me that something I have no control over is such a big part of how people perceive me, but it does cause me to think about the way I perceive others
     It's frustrating to me that in most cases, we choose to define each other by our differences instead of our similarities. I know from working with children that we don't start out that way, because I know that although children do ask questions about my differences, as soon as they hear the answer they move on to the next thing, which is often trying to discover things we have in common. It is usually adults who pick apart and debate differences like disabilities, race, and who's great grandfather did what, and I've never seen anything positive come out of this nitpicking.
     Since I don't like to be judged for things I can't control, I need to intentionally notice how I am judging others. I probably have a lot in common with people I have overlooked for petty reasons, and I need to remember that first impressions don't have to be permanent. It's never too late to change your mind, and you might find that you can make all kinds of new friends, if you look for the quality that can be found in all sorts of people, a good heart.

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