Aha Moments

Apparently, Impressions Matter

Apparently, impressions matter.

My sense of individuality fought this for years, but I finally had to admit defeat and realize that my mom and my sister were right. Impressions do matter because all that people can see is how you present yourself. Your motivations, your thoughts, your actions can be all good and pure, but if they’re perceived in the wrong light, none of that matters.

We humans judge by fickle measures, and even when we don’t, there is only so much we can truly see. Our hearts aren’t visible. So, now I’ll try. I’ll try to make sure my face is showing the enthusiasm I feel when listening to someone’s story. I’ll try to make sure my filter is on to avoid accidentally offending others. I’ll try to think from others’ perspective to avoid being misunderstood. Instead of blaming others’ for their wrong perceptions, I’ll treat them like readers and make clear communication my responsibility.

That doesn’t mean I have to put out a false image. That doesn’t mean I have to deceive. It doesn’t mean I have to become self-conscious, vain, or petty. It doesn’t even mean I have to care about any of these things! It simply means I’m considerate and make myself properly understood.

In a sense, it’s like writing about myself with careful words and actions. It’s making eye contact for my friends who’ll think I’m not listening otherwise. It’s smiling back even when I’m tired because I don’t want them to think I’m not happy to see them. It’s asking questions when they tell their daily-life stories, even when they’re clear and there’s no logical or technical reason to ask questions. After all, letting them understand that I care is honest and more important than being logical or doing what’s natural for me.

Though I used to associate making the right impressions with worrying too much about what people thought, I now realize that such vanity is only the negative side of social conventions. Because if I give people the right impression of what’s in my heart, I’m not lying. Instead, I’m giving out a true picture of myself: there aren’t any lies in that–only truth made clear.

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