When I think back to the first encounters with some of my favourite people, it’s safe to say we hit it off right away. Damien and I met in a club and went on our first date the very next day, my friend L’Oréal and I met at an event and basically declared our friendship within a matter of hours and I knew on my first day of college when my friend Dawn came over to introduce herself with a big friendly smile on her face, that we were instantly going to be good friends.
First impressions do mean a lot, and those have been some of my most lasting ones, but when I really think about it, not all of my most important relationships began in such a way.
I used to be very much of the notion that first impressions meant everything and if you didn’t hit it off right away or get a clear vibe from a person, then it was likely a sign that it wasn’t meant to be. I can easily dismiss possible friendships if I don’t feel that there is that initial spark right away. However something I’ve learnt over time is that a lot of relationships can actually take a while to get going and not everyone finds it easy to be their true self from the get go when interacting with someone completely new.
I think I’ve realised this in myself too. I always attempt to make a good first impression but on many occasions I think I can actually end up coming across as quite overly enthusiastic, which I realise can be quite overwhelming for someone who is maybe not as naturally bubbly. What was initially supposed to be a friendly introduction can end up coming across as quite overbearing. Then on other occasions I can be the complete opposite. I’d never exactly describe myself as a shy person but sometimes in certain situations (especially at events and things), if nobody has made any introductions and I feel like everyone else knows each other, I can become quite quiet, or at least just stick to who I know. I think this is due to past experiences where I’ve been my usual happy overly-talkative self with new people and it’s not always been received too well because maybe people think I’m being too overfamiliar, when that’s really not my intention.
This mix of experiences with trying to make good first impressions on my part has made me realise that it’s not always easy to get your true self across in the first meeting. If I occasionally struggle as someone who is quite confident, then I can only imagine what it must be like for someone who is shy. And this is exactly why it’s good to remember that first impressions actually aren’t everything. Whilst yes, it’s important to try and come across as friendly when meeting someone new, I really don’t think that first impression should be the be all and end all. Not everyone is good in social situations and this can be detrimental when it comes to forming new relationships.
Sometimes people who come across as antisocial are just socially awkward and those who come across as rude are just plain shy. Some of my closest friends are actually both (socially awkward and shy I mean, not antisocial and rude haha)…but I wouldn’t have got to know that if I’d only taken their first impressions and not got to know them further. Not everyone has the skill of being instantly charming and just because someone doesn’t come across the best from your first encounter with them, it doesn’t mean they are not actually a nice person.
I was reminded of this a while ago. I bumped into someone who I’d initially not had good vibes from and needless to say, in our initial meeting, we hadn’t hit it off. I surprised myself though on this occasion as I actually found myself really liking the person and getting on with them, a lot! What was it about that first encounter that had gone so wrong, I wasn’t sure and I don’t think they were aware of it either. It was definitely a reminder that not only should you not judge a book by its cover but that you shouldn’t just judge it from the first few pages either. It’s always a good idea to read on to find out the real story.