First Impressions Last

You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

An old adage that I last heard a few days ago when uttered by Judge Judy (love her!). Although it was warranted (the defendant was dressed completely inappropriately for court—even a TV court), she laid into him before the facts of the case were confirmed. Her first impression of him came purely from his appearance (which also included a skinhead and more earrings than I could count), but what if your first impression is wrong?

The aforementioned defendant only had himself to blame because he had the choice to change his appearance. However, many of us don’t need anything as trivial as clothing to make judgements of others. We look at things like height, build, gender and race in order to read people and make a decision about their personalities.

I hate people who are so judgemental and closed-minded, especially as the reality is usually very different to what is imagined. The tiny, cute elderly person can actually be malicious and hateful; the guy in a hooded-top is actually not a mugger and is merely having a bad hair day/keeping warm; the tall, broad man strapped with muscle is far from a thug and is actually a sweetheart.

I think about the impressions my characters make when they are first encountered by the reader, knowing that an opinion is immediately formed. Then—wicked writer that I am—I delight in seeing if I can make them change their mind. Whether it’s a single act that seems out of place or whether it seems to be a complete personality change. It makes people think, much like they should do in real life.

People should take the opportunity to take a second glance, as they may well find that they got it wrong the first time.

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2 Comments

  1. Shermaine,

    Does it count if I say that FOUR YEARS after mywife walked out on a marriage which had lasted over 25 years, I would still smile and say “Welcome Home” if she knocked on my door tomorrow?

    THAT is the ‘first impression’ she made on me, and I’m certain it will remain with me until the day I die.

    • Wow, Paul! Over 25 years? I think you’re perfectly entitled to say that first impression did last!


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