First Impressions V. Lasting Impressions

Which is more important?

Growing up I was taught that first impressions were very important, but lasting impressions were never really discussed. The idea is that you make a good first impression as this will be what you are remembered by. I have lived by this philosophy my entire life. I strive to present myself how I want to be remembered; friendly, classy, relatable, comedic, whatever. However, in my life, I see how misleading first impressions can be.

Take for example a first date or a job interview. A person will present their best self, but not their true self. On a first date, her nails might be done, her hair laid, makeup beat to the gawds. He might be well dressed, well groomed, polite, funny, and soft-spoken, but none of that matters if you’re six months down the road and he or she is none of what they originally presented. The same goes for a job. A person can toot their own horn and sing their praises, but the truth will reveal itself when there is work to be performed. So first impressions v. last impressions? Which is preferred?

What Have I Learned?

I said all that to say that in recent months I had an opportunity to reflect on my life, the people in it, and the people I’ve been connected to over the years. In my reflection, I see how I jumped headfirst into the deep end of a relationship based on a good first impression and how easily I overlooked those red flags. I’m not even talking about a romantic relationship, but I’m talking about friendships, spiritual connections, work relationships etc.

Because I am genuine, I can admit I was naive in thinking other people were genuine too. I come from a long line of relatives that always speak their mind and you always know where you stand with them. So going out into real life where people aren’t this way, was new for me. I had to learn to be cautious of my friends who always had sad stories. I learned to be mindful of how much I shared with the people I worked with. Know who you can trust.

That individual who is always asking about your personal life at work and it seems like genuine care and concern could really be someone looking for your weak spots to use against you later. I urge you not to get so carried away with what someone shows you the first time you encounter them, but rather with what they show you over time. Their true character and intentions will always be revealed. Set your expectations low so that you’re not disappointed.

What’s the lesson in this?

Allow people to make lasting impressions on you. What I mean is, let them prove themselves. Let what they do most of the time, determine how you perceive them. Define them by their repeated actions and consistent behaviors.

Respect and trust are earned, not given. If they want to “impress” you, they will be consistent. I’m not saying to be paranoid and untrusting, but I am saying to be cautious. To be cautious is to be wise. Observe a person in different environments. If they only want to do what you like to do and they agree with all your ideas, you can probably bet that’s not who they really are. They are adjusting themselves to be perceived a certain way by you. See them in as many different lights as you can before you make them a staple relationship or confidant in your friend circle.

I came across a really interesting podcast I enjoyed watching the other day. Head over to this link to watch it now.

Also, check out this older blogpost about recognizing your true friends.