A Moment in My Life – Monday, May 9, 2022
Jeannie Yee Davis
“Nobody is themselves at the beginning of a relationship,” she said to her friend.
Her friend responded, “Do you really believe that?” So goes the dialogue in the Hallmark movie, Right in Front of You. This conversation fueled the topic of first impressions that have been playing in the forefront of my mind lately. This scene was the marshmallow on my S’more.
Is it true that nobody is themselves at the beginning of a new relationship? Scary. It borders on the online relationships with sight unseen. People could make up who they are or who they want to be, or simply who they wish the recipient to believe they are. In other words, fake, phony, liar, or what have you, comes to mind.
This topic kept popping up recently, giving me a reason for pause. In one conversation with a friend, he said his first impressions of people were always wrong. And now I see why. A few days later, I was on the phone with a friend who didn’t sound like her usual self. I was curious but let it go. Eventually, I got my answer. She was at her new boyfriend’s apartment. Ah, got it. The tone of her voice was soft and Vermont maple syrup, not that her familiar voice wasn’t lovely, and that’s my point. She always sounded fine to me, sweet and pleasant, but she upped it a notch in the presence of her new beau. She also dolled up her word choices. Again, she was fine without the upgrade. She is one of the most confident, independent women I know who doesn’t need or want a man to complete her. Yet, here she was assuming a persona, not hers. I remember applying the same upgrade myself, but that was to impress a guy back in my school days. We all did that, didn’t we? The question is, why? Why did we do that?
There are too many reasons why. It’s individual. It’s subjective. The universal answer is that we don’t think people would like us for who we are. I’ve been guilty of that thought even as we speak. Some bad habits are, plain and simple, hard to break. Most people aren’t aware that they do this, to begin with. We picked up from observing the people around us doing it. It’s just a way of life. Time has taught me there is truth in the adage about kids saying and doing the same things they observed their parents saying or doing.
I’m no different. Bad habits riddled me that I assumed from growing up years and life. I did many things I’ve seen people around me say and do. Each time I did it, I kicked myself. I got angry at myself a lot—every time. I did not want to be like them. It scarred me and became ingrained a part of who I was. I did not like the person I became, so why would anybody else like me? At the time, I didn’t know better. So, like everyone else, I projected a persona around other people.
I’ve spent my whole life not liking the person I was. One day I decided enough was enough. I didn’t know then what I know now, but I didn’t want to keep playing the games that people play, so I began redefining myself and ditching those bad habits. It isn’t easy to do, but doable. It took me an extremely long time to figure out who I am, who I was meant to be, and who I would like to be. The important thing—I can become the person I dream of becoming.
Here’s the thing that I’ve learned. Most of us learned to believe that we can’t change our stars and must remain who we are. Even today, I’ve had people tell me that they don’t like who they are or like their lifestyles, but they aren’t going to do anything about it because it’s too late to change, or worst yet, they believe they were born to be as they are and can’t change. After attempting to encourage them to try, I leave them alone. I can’t change anybody but myself.
I believe that if I am not happy under my skin, then I need to do something about that. I refuse to believe that we are stuck with the person we are. It’s like being with someone you can’t stand. You better believe that I’d be distancing myself from that person. Why subject me to unhappy surroundings? As the old saying goes, You can’t change the people around you, but you can change the people around you. That includes me, myself, and I. Life is too short not to be happy in all circumstances. In my case, there was only one option: to redefine myself into the person I could like. Here’s what I believe. Instead of projecting the persona I want others to see, why not become that person now that I know who I am meant to be?
I’ve long believed in finding good out of a bad situation. Covid has isolated us from the world, but some takeaways will always have my gratitude. One area was getting to know me better. Once I did some spring cleaning and removed as many twigs, weeds, and dark matter, i.e., bad habits, that bogged me down, I discovered the real me. From experience, I can tell you that it is never too late or impossible to change who you are or your life. After all, people change careers often, many times in their lives. So, if you could do that, why can’t you redefine yourself?
Let’s make one thing clear. Redefining yourself means changing who you are. It does not mean pretending to be someone you’re not. I’m learning something new about myself every day and adding my discovery to my makeup, and I like the person I am becoming. The takeaway from the new me is that I am content and happy more often than kicking myself and scolding myself for backsliding into old ways that didn’t work for me.
I am determined to put the real me out there at all times and feel comfortable with the person I am sharing with the world. And that person is a person I would not be embarrassed to introduce to someone. The bottom line is to be the best person I can be and to be the real me at all times around everybody, not just a cute guy I’m trying to impress. We should always be true to ourselves and be real with everybody. It sure makes life easier. Many people have said, “what you see is what you get,” but was that true? Perhaps to some, they believe it was. Most people want that, but I doubt they were speaking honestly. My point here is that if you’re not completely happy with yourself, feel free to make some changes. Life is short. Don’t be stuck in a rut. Get to know yourself. Learn what works and doesn’t work for you. What made you happy as a kid may not do it for you now. We are constantly changing, so we need to keep redefining ourselves to stay true to ourselves and our paths. The first impression we make should be lasting—not just a show but to be real.