first impressions

As some people may know, Jane Austen’s novel, Pride and Prejudice, was originally entitled First Impressions. That original title would reflect the first impressions Darcy and Elizabeth had of each other – in which Darcy didn’t think too high of Elizabeth’s family background and Elizabeth thought Darcy to be haughty and rude. But Austen changed the title to Pride and Prejudice, as she probably had in mind the “sufferings and oppositions” summarised in the final chapter of Fanny Burney’s Cecilia, called “Pride and Prejudice”, where the phrase appears three times in block capitals. (source)

I used to think that I was good at seeing past first impressions, that I didn’t make snap judgement of people that I only just met and I was neutral enough to treat everyone equally until they start to piss me off/win me over, like some internal sliding scale where each positive thing added points while negative actions took points off.

Then as I grew older, I found myself quicker to categorize people, basically through the vibe that they gave off. Like one particular dude had a smarmy face that I disliked and he felt unpleasant, and true enough he was kind of skeevy at times. Or knowing someone would make a good friend after 5 minutes of conversation, you know, that sort of sixth sense. I thought I was pretty accurate at reading people.

Recently, my snap judgement have been pretty off. Like the fellow temps that work with me, now known as B1 and B2 (just because), I thought B1 was more similar to me, like we had similar traits and more topics in common, and I thought B2 was going to be like that smarmy self-entitled guy. Buuut it turns out that I can’t stand B1 and B2 is a really nice guy. Like, dude, we could totally be bros, what with our similar mindsets and general interests.

And all this got me thinking, making quick decisions about people may be useful, but in the long run, it’s more harmful especially when your instincts can’t be trusted anymore. Why are my instincts getting wonky anyway? And what changed between those years where I was basically neutral about everyone in general and now instead I’m so much more biased?


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