The Burden of That First Impression has been edited by Aashna Kanuga.
I vividly remember the day before I joined a new school, not the most pleasant memory. The thought of leaving my friends behind and the place which had taught me so much was a lot to absorb. To add to that, I remember my dad asking me to not sulk and be cheerful because the next day I was going to meet a lot of new people.
“First impressions are the last, never forget”, he said. Most of us have grown up hearing these exact words. And in some cases like mine, the horror that comes along with them. Like the thought of leaving was not enough, he made me realise that there are strangers waiting to make fun of me. Because that is what you do when you see a new kid crying, right?
Since a very early age, because of the repeated emphasis on the importance of a first impression, I was always apprehensive when it came to meeting new people. Not that “behaving” nicely was a problem, but what if it is not good enough? What if the person I just met, someone who did not know me, formed an opinion about me that could never be corrected? Because of such reservations, the excitement that came along with meeting new people always died down.
Obviously, it is not just me. It happens quite frequently that we see someone being very nervous before they are about to meet someone for the first time. Be it interviews, first dates, or any other occasion of your choice. And why wouldn’t they be? Research suggests that it takes just seven seconds for someone to make a first impression. Seven seconds! No matter how long you prepared for that interview, someone will judge your measure within seconds of you entering the room. Did you trip over while greeting your date? They are going to laugh at you over drinks with their friends. Try being humiliated by your professor on the very first day of college. It does not matter if you are actually a nice person.
People our age are known—and often ridiculed—for wanting to make a change in the world. And the other thing we are famous for is being anxious. They call us the anxious generation. It is very common to find articles that show how nervous and depressed we are. Now that I think about it, considering how some of us have cultivated a fear of interaction, it is not very difficult to see why.
I congratulate those who can make a formidable first impression within a few seconds. At the same time, I don’t belittle those who don’t. With every generation, there are some notions that should be shed off. We have always strived to make a change. If we try, we could help ourselves, ease our anxiety by delaying our judgments, or not judging at all. We could actually change the world, by just giving someone a second chance.
I just hope there comes a time when you do not need courage to be yourself. A time, when being you is the only way you know how to be.
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