242: The benefit of first impressions
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Today I want to talk about a different way to look at first impressions. We generally worry about making a good first impression and we get wrapped up in the assumptions people might make about us after we’ve made that first impression.
But I’ve recently pondered about the thought that first impressions, even one you think is a disasterous fail, can be a really good path to your own self-discovery—especially as you get older.
Let me explain.
What someone sees
If someone sees me giving a how-to speech about homesteading as Amy from A Farmish Kind of Life, they see me as one thing.
If someone sees me working a booth at a trade show for my away-from-the-farm job, they see me as completely different thing.
If someone sees me at a coffee shop in a messy bun and aviators walking out with two whipped cream covered blended ice coffees, they see me as another thing.
There are assumptions based on what we see when we first meet someone—or when we know someone a little better and consider how we see them spend their time or money or how they talk to other people. Impressions are made and assumptions follow because that’s the way it works for 99% of people out there within the boundaries of human nature.
We normally place a lot of importance on this whole first impression thing. And first impressions are important, but I want you to think about them as important in a very different way today—especially if you’re at a place in your life where you’re in a “who the hell am I” sort of mode, or you’re frustrated that all the parts of you don’t fit together nicely, or you’re going through a major life change or shift.
What I’m getting at here is this:
What if today someone sees you baking a ton of cookies so they see you as a nice parent who is making a homemade treat for her kids. They have no idea that you’re also a drummer in a ska band and a saltwater tank maintenance expert or that you’re trying to start a non-profit to help country folk with barn cat vet bills. And maybe instead of you being upset or frustrated that they don’t see all the layers and levels of you, you just think “yeah, right now in this moment, I am a super awesome mom making cookies for my kids.”
Maybe instead of being worried that whatever you’re doing in this moment doesn’t line up with what those people saw you doing an hour ago and a week ago or a year ago, maybe you just think “yeah, you’re right. In this moment I am an author of western erotica novels.” Or, maybe, “yeah, you’re right. In this moment I am someone who really sucks at trying to fix a leaky pipe in the basement.”
What if someone meets you today and you answer all their questions about an invoice you emailed them about a vehicle modification they ordered and they don’t know you homeschooled all your kids and you have a farm and you butcher your own pigs and you’re working on your 11th book?
How would they know all that? Are they supposed to know all that stuff? Do they need to know all that?
What this is really about
This is about you realizing you’re a lot of different things, but you don’t have to be everything all at once. You are what you are right now.
This is also about letting go of who you used to be. Admitting when things need to change. Being okay with yeah, that thing people used to know me for was a super cool place in my life but that part is over and that’s okay and I’m good with moving on.
This is about being okay with taking on new things that maybe challenge people’s impressions of who you are or who they thought you were.
We go into our day with all this baggage of all the things we are and all the things we’ve been and all the things we think people see us as and all the things we want to do. And maybe instead of getting tangled up in all that we could just live in the moment? Do that thing we all talk about doing (live in the moment!) but exactly zero of us actually do for more than a minute before we freak out about something we remember we did last week or get really worried or excited about something that’s coming up later today?
It is so hard for us to just live in the right now.
You are so many things.
Who are you? You’re a lot of different things. But you’re also the thing that you’re doing in this moment right now, and that’s perfectly okay. Own it.
What would people assume about you if they saw you right now? That’s perfectly okay. And so are the things they’d assume if they saw you two hours from now in a completely different situation.
First impressions give us a clue to who we are. First impressions can be freeing. You are who you are in this moment.
And if you’re in an uncomfortable stage of life where you feel stuck by what you think other people expect from you because of what you’ve been up to this point, my friend, listen to me. You don’t have to be anything other than what you are.
People will figure it out.
And if they don’t, that’s a them problem, not a you problem.
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