First impressions have been an ongoing controversy for years. Some people say that it really doesn’t justify the value of a person, while others insist that first impressions are everything. So in light of this discussion and in reference to a recent event that I attended where first impressions meant everything, I want to review the view-points of both sides of this issue so that we can decide if first impressions really do count.
When we meet someone for the first time, we most often evaluate their character in our minds by how they dress and what they say, and in many cases our conclusions are correct. A woman who wears too much make-up has poor taste and wants to flaunt herself while the person who dresses simple has no taste at all; the person who chats too much is full of themselves and wants to show off their intelligence, and the person who says very little has either a boring life or is simply disinterested in talking to us.
The way we interpret the first impression we get of someone is the basis for our attitude towards them. Although we feel correct in our assumptions, we can often be misled by an unfair judgement of someone who is very different from the way they appeared in that first meeting. First impressions don’t always tell the truth about someone’s character or values.
The woman with too much make-up may be so insecure that she hides behind the face she paints; the person who chats relentlessly may be so nervous around people, that the only way they can control their fear is to talk; and the person who dresses simple but elegantly may not be boring all, but may have their focus on other things in life ahead of vanity.
All things that glitter may not be gold, and now I know why. Recently I was invited to meet a wonderful woman and best-selling author, but the first impression that I gave was likely anything but good. I was humbled beyond words when I realized that the person she saw wasn’t the real me.
As many of you know, I spent the entire year of 2011 battling cancer – and I won by the way! But during that time I lost a lot of weight and a lot of my hair. I’m still losing weight and my face is looking almost too thin, and most of my hair has grown back although the patches I’m still working on are the ones we notice the most.
I am a Christian author and while I love to dress in style I’m also very conservative and I don’t like to dress in a provocative manner. When I was preparing to dress for this occasion I had an outfit picked out that I thought would be perfect, but my daughter – you have to love your kids when they dote on you and think they’re helping you - wanted me to dress in a younger and more colorful style because this was my first time out since I’d become ill.
So, I wore this outfit and I did like the style and the color. It was fairly new but it was now too large and hung in places that I didn’t want it to. During my luncheon with this wonderful lady I spent the entire time pulling my top up so she wouldn’t think that I’d come to flaunt what was left of my femininity, and that became my focal point of the meal. But to make things worse and to my surprise, I was invited onto her television show as a guest to tell the world why I wrote the story about her that I did, and how she had influenced my own writing career.
I thought I handled myself well especially when the question she asked me had nothing to do with my writing. I was only on air for a couple of minutes and part of that was filled with the thrill of “this was my TV debut”. But when I saw the film of it afterwards I almost died. My first impression? A chunky flaunting woman with thin hair and a tooth missing. A bad first impression that I gave the entire world.
The camera had added a generous amount of weight on to me, not that it needed any help with the oversized clothes that I wore, and I was the only one with a revealing top. Without having stage make-up put on, my face was white with Marilyn Manson eyes and somehow I looked as if I had a tooth missing. Is this the first impression I wanted to give my fans? Never.
I reviewed the film very humbly many times and realized that the person on that film was not a true reflection of the real me. I don’t dress like that, I’m not fat and I have all my teeth, but the way the world saw me is the way I was portrayed on this film. It was a first impression that allows viewers to see me in an unfair way.
The picture of me here is discreet because I’m covered by the wrapping of the gift basket that I received that day. But the humbling experience of the live camera has made me change my thoughts entirely on first impressions.
I’m always amazed at how we learn things in life, and the point that we have to get to for us to change our way of thinking. It is very important for all of us to try to create a good first impression, but on the other hand, we can’t always judge the values and integrity of anyone at first glance. Like wine, we can’t judge it by the shape and color of the bottle. We need to go beyond the label, open the bottle and sip it carefully before we can truly appreciate the quality of the drink.
And so it is with meeting people for the first time. We shouldn’t judge them because of the way they appear at that time because it may not properly reflect the person they are and it may be a first impression that doesn’t count.