Everyone harps on about how important first impressions are, but I’ve recently realised that they’re quite wrong. At least, mine are. I mean, read anything about different modes of thinking (such as Daniel Kahneman’s “System 1” and “System 2,” described in his book, “Thinking Fast and Slow“) and it’s clear that a lot of times, the brain’s just being lazy when it makes snap judgments.
Having to meet a lot of new people the past decade has driven home that fact, methinks. It was easy for me to gravitate towards the people who were chatty, vivacious, lively. It was easy for me to mistake a good conversationalist for a good friend. I’m not saying the two are mutually exclusive, but I mistook charisma for chemistry, attention for devotion.
It sounds counterintuitive, but I learned not to listen so much to my gut. Sometimes the people I’ve felt I clicked with instantaneously, were just people were naturally friendly and used to speaking to strangers and small talk — they were rarely the ones who I eventually forged deep friendships with, or have meaningful conversations with.
When I look at the people that surround me now, I’d have to admit I was wrong about a lot of them at the beginning. Too noisy, too clingy, too whiny, too quiet! I’m ashamed now about having complained about some of them to my other friends… but here we are now. I’d like to think I’m a better judge of people I’d like to keep — people who are kind-hearted and loyal, but not necessarily those who sparked a mutual interest at our first meeting.
I hope I’m afforded the same by the people I encounter — I’m a little bit shy, a little bit fidgety, a little bit uptight. A funny thing I’ve realised — everyone wants to make friends, and be liked. And we’re all rather nervous to admit it.