Tag: people

First Impressions…by JoAnn

I had always believed that my first impression of someone would tell me all I needed to know about them. I could always tell whether or not I could trust them, and if they were someone I would like to pursue a friendship or professional relationship with. I always trust my instincts, and I have always taken pride in noticing the little things in people and being able to read them. To see deeper than someone may be sharing with the world. After my many years on this sweet earth, I now think I was wrong.

Oh, I still believe we can catch most of a person’s true self by using our instincts and observations. And our past experiences with others make us wiser. But I must admit, quite a few people I thought I had pegged and they boldly proved me wrong. Leaving me to question myself.

I’ll admit my ego is a little bruised when I realize I misjudged someone off a first impression. And I don’t quite know how to feel about it. I guess I should be happy if the person ended up being a much better individual than I had first thought. That’s a good mistake to make. But, of course, it is unfortunate to realize the opposite. When someone you thought was good turned out to be a bad person. No one likes that.

So I’m left asking myself, should I still put as much merit into a first impression? Probably not. It seems only logical that we should at least give someone a second chance before we decide to let them into our life, whether personally or professionally. I like to think I can read someone with 100% accuracy upon a first impression, but that is purely my ego talking. I have no magical powers. Ouch.

So I humbly concede that I may have misjudged others on a first impression. Have you ever noticed that there’s a chance for upheaval anytime the word judge is in the mix? Yet another thing to prove that we are not to judge others.

Today, I passed a property where one family has a house, two mobile homes, and a vast assortment of junk. The property is an eyesore. Every time I drive by, I am annoyed. Today I stopped myself. I was judging that family. Who am I to do so? I don’t even know their names! And why do I even care? I don’t have to live there. So what if their property needs a good clean up. They are trying every day just as hard as I am in my own life for all I know. I don’t know their story. Maybe there is a legit reason their property ended up in such bad shape.

I drove on toward my home, full of repentance, feeling ashamed of myself for all the times over the years that I had judged a family I didn’t even know. I am thankful that I finally recognized what I was doing today and can now change my bad attitude.

My hope is the next time I drive past that property, I will have a prayer in my heart for that family. If they are overwhelmed, like I have been myself many times, they will receive a helping hand, just like I have, many, many times over. Just more proof of how impressions can be gravely misunderstood.

Now I ask myself, what kind of impression do I give? Now that is something to ponder.

Do I Know You?

When we first moved to our little Tennessee town in 1992, I jokingly told family and friends that we had moved to Mayberry.  That seemed to be the only way to accurately describe where we had landed.

In many ways, it felt like we had time traveled back to the fifties or sixties.  It was a culture shock for someone like myself, who had just spent the last 20 years of my life in the loud, bustling city of Newport News, Virginia.  We lived within walking distance (and definite earshot) of the world-famous shipyard.

In the city, people or neighbors, pretty much kept to themselves.  We all had the attitude, I’ll mind my business, and you mind yours.  Oh, we could be friendly if we were in the mood to nod or introduce ourselves to a new neighbor.  But mostly that was for the young mothers on the street so their kids could become acquainted and be playmates.  Or this was my experience in the particular neighborhood where we lived.

I quickly realized that in this small, Mayberry like town, everyone knew everyone.  And I was the new stranger in town.  I had never felt like an interloper before, but found myself in that position.  Looking back, I couldn’t really blame the citizens of our new home town.  After all, their families had lived in this area for generations!

Many of the kids that attended the small elementary and middle schools were cousins.  Their parents, and their parents, had all gone through school together in these same two buildings.  It was not uncommon for a teacher to have taught several generations of the same family by retirement age.

Early on, I was quite puzzled by something that kept happening to me.  It seemed every time I drove on Main Street, drivers that passed me would wave.  “Do I know you?”, I would think to myself as I waved back with what I’m sure was a bewildered look on my face.  I wasn’t use to this friendliness.  Surely, they had me mistaken for someone else.  That’s it.  I must look A LOT like another lady that lives here and they think I’m her!  Perhaps my doppelganger is right here in my Mayberry.  That had to be the explanation.  Why else would I be receiving waves from strangers?  I had never received them in the city unless someone was trying to warn me something was wrong with my car.

After a few months, I learned that I was not being mistaken for my twin.  The waving was just their culture.  A way of being friendly to us strangers.  I met many people along the way that were truly kind and neighborly.  Who accepted me into their fold I guess you could say.  But I also met many who never quite let the stigma of my being a stranger go.

It’s been 26 years, and honestly, not a lot has changed in our little town.  I still get waved at when driving and still find myself asking, “do I know you?”.  Sometimes, if I’m in a playful mood, I’ll flip things around.  I’ll wave back in such a way, that just maybe, they will be asking themselves, “do I know her?”.  Ha, ha!

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