We are constantly told that first impressions are so important because they can heavily influence our opinions about people. However, this year I have learned that first impressions can be so incredibly wrong.
Take for example a professor I met at the beginning of this year. I wasn’t able to formally register for his class so I showed up on the first day of the spring semester to try “crash” the class. When I went up to speak with him after the first class was over, I was taken aback by his lack of sympathy for students who were desperate to get into his classes. I saw people who were on the verge of tears over the fear of not being able to graduate because his class was the last requirement they needed. He seemed to be apathetic towards the students and offered no assistance to them. What bothered me the most was that almost every other professor I’d encountered at San Francisco State University had been helpful and caring towards students; trying to make every accommodation to allow them into their classes when they really needed it. I left the class feeling upset and helpless because eventually had to have a class with this professor, as his class was required for my major. The spring semester went by and I registered again for the fall semester, signing up for his class. The first day of the fall semester I was nervous and reluctant as I walked in to the class with a firm (and negative) opinion of my teacher in my mind.
I can safely say that my first impression of my teacher was shattered over the course of the fall semester and I left my class feeling bittersweet that it was over. He was much more helpful, warm, and sympathetic than I made him out to be. All of my snap opinions about him from roughly eight months before turned out to be wrong. I wound up liking my professor so much that I am choosing to spend the final part of my Liberal Studies program with him, taking the capstone class he is teaching.
This experience has made me regret all the first impressions I have made about people, mostly because they have almost always turned out to be wrong. People I’ve formed negative snap decisions about have become some of my closest friends and people that I’ve thought were nice and friendly have turned out to be rude and back stabbing. If I were to live my life according to first impressions, I would have missed out on having so many great people in my life.
Unfortunately, in life we often only get the chance to make a first impression, not a second or third. I hope our world can learn that not everyone presents themselves well the first time they meet someone, I know I certainly have. We must also remind ourselves that lying beneath that first impression can be a great person worth getting to know.