FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Jack has a collar with two tags. One that's shaped as a star and states his name and our phone number. And one that's circular and states that he's had all the needed vaccinations. Together, when they go against each other, it quite sounds like those small bells cats often wear around their collar. 
In our neighbourhood there are a lot of cats roaming around. So everytime we walk the dog, cats will look around the corner thinking it's another cat. But it isn't. It's a dog. It doesn't take them long to realize this and hiss at him.

"At first sight, his address is certainly not striking; and his person can hardly be called handsome, till the expression of his eyes, which are uncommonly good, and the general sweetness of his countenance, is perceived."
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

I'm absolutely terrible at making friends. Or acquaintances for that matter. Last schoolyear was my first schoolyear at this school (what a sentence) and I immediately encountered many social skill problems. But these aren't new to me. I've always been more of the quiet keep your head down kinda gal than the I've arrived! kinda gal (except for when I'm at home. Just ask my roomies...). 

Some days ago Maggie, from Futile Ramblings, wrote a blogpost about asserting people and how she struggles with it. I myself naturally could relate to those problems and felt the strange urge to comment (which I totally regretted afterwards but also didn't had the -figure of speaking- balls to remove it). What I typed:

I absolutely know what you mean! If I look back at my life so far, I sometimes feel like a complete idiot for not saying to someone I'M NOT OK WITH THIS. And I also often think of those weird situations it'll bring you (me) in for not doing so. Like for instance one time I was alone in Amsterdam (I study there) and had to get the tram to the station and while I'm sitting there this really weird creepy guy (who btw smelled really really bad) comes up to me and sits a little bit too close to me and started to babble something understandable into my ear and touched my arms and legs all the time and I was so not ok with it AND I DIDN'T DO NOTHING. I didn't said a word. I didn't got up and got out of the tram. I did nothing (even forgot to breathe for some time. Which I often do when I'm panicked. Not a good thing to do, though). And I've got a lot of these kind of stories (not all touchy smelly strangers related, luckily. But ya know, similar situations like mentioned in the comment above. And it doesn't help that I'm really shy and for some reason when I get out of my house my voice volume drops down to zero, so nobody can really hear what I say and when you ask to me what I just said I sort of slightly panick and will try to repeat it without bursting into tears. I'm a real fun one, I am. *sigh* But it's getting better!) and I often think that I must be some kind of idiot for not saying a word. But somehow my body or mind just don't want to start the drama, I guess (voice inside my head: NOT STARTING THE DRAMA?! A strange smelly weird guy just randoumly started to touch you ISN'T OK). But yeah... Hope I get a second chance next time (or I rather not. Keep your hands to yourself!). So yeah, you've quite evoked something in me. ;)

What a comment. *shakes head* However as I said "But it's getting better!" And for every mind blowing/OMG I'm the biggest idiot alive/it's a miracle I'm still walking straight-stories, there are also those kind of stories -my mum reminded me of- where I can be as determined and assertive as I want to be. Where I'm in control of the situation. Where I'm (un)comfortable enough to do something against all the wrong doings in the world! Alright, that's a bit exaggerated, but I feel like that within this year I've "grown" in that perspective. 

This particular situation happened to me at the beginning of the year. I'd never been alone on a tram before and I really didn't know who/what/where/when/how. There were more people on the tram who noticed sir Creepcelot and got him distracted and he eventually got out of the tram, which I forgot to mention in my comment. But it was late when I typed it and that wasn't really the point I was going for. But still it's very important to know that there are others out there who will be assertive when you slowly fall apart. Now I shouldn't solidly rely on that because the Bystander effect is a very dangerous phenomenon. Also the no bystanders at all is dangerous when you solidly rely on their assertiveness.

"I can't go back to yesterday because I was a different person then."
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

It's a well known fact that the first impression you make will be 1) only done once, 2) done within seconds and 3) very important for future interactions or the likes. However, impressions change. This is I think best illustrated by Monet and his series of the Von Rouen Cathedral. 


Monet has made a series of paintings between the years 1890 and 1894. Each depicting the same cathedral yet from different angles and through different weather. Making each painting distinctively different from the other. Yes, you can see that it's the same cathedral, but each will give you a different impression depending on the angle and weather and mostly on the time. And this is, I think, exactly the same for (first) impressions in general. Every day is a new day and thus gives us a new impression. We've got a firm framework build over the years, sometimes even filled up with bricks, but each and every day will come as it goes.

"Once the impression is captured, they declare their role finished."
Jules Castagnary

First impressions are important because we think all first generally are (just look at the YouTube comment section). But first impressions aren't always most reliable. One may look quiet and timid at first sight, but you know what they say still waters run deep.

However I'm hereby not declaring that all first impressions are wrong. It's just a (rapidly) passing moment in life. It isn't always the whole truth, but can certainly be a good measurement. For instance on that same first schoolday last year I met my friend Demi. We were both on the same train and made some small talk, nothing to be excited about and a bit awkward really. So when silence fall, she grabbed her phone. Nothing unusual you'd say, however her phone case had something among the lines of Don't blink, Grab the salt and text Sherlock on it. And I dare to say that our friendship has been dependent on that very first impression. Both a bit awkward but both underneath quite awesome, if I may say so myself. Also note to self: Phone cases ARE important.

"Impressions are like pearls; ideas are like the string that turns the pearls into a necklace. The string is invisible, but it is not dispensable and cannot be broken."
Mu Xin

First impressions are inescapable. In my experience I've learned that when more time goes by, every first will be as important but also maybe a bit more confident. However this may vary from time to time, you just got to believe that things happen as they happen. In the end you might learn something from it and you can try to not succumb to the same again. Or something similar...

Love,
Dominique


P.s. I'd made lovely pictures to go with this post, but ya know, camera still broken.

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