You don’t get a second chance to make one! The last 10 days have been all about first impressions for me – both mine of people, places and things, and others’ first impressions of me. I left the UK for the USA at the end of May and, from the morning I first met other camp staff at the hostel we stayed in prior to travelling to camp, I was mentally transported back to my first Freshers’ Week at university.
Indeed, there are some staff at camp who are young enough to still be Freshers, or not even have experienced that yet! But for me, it was déjà vu: the last person you gave your name to is your best friend for five minutes, then it’s on to the next new introduction. Even for those who are not natural social butterflies, it is a relatively easy experience, as most people are so friendly and receptive. Most people are in the same boat, and although the “returnees” have their friendship groups, many of them are more than happy to help the newbies to settle in.
This all ties in a little with my previous post: animals judge each other and the people they meet very quickly, and it can take a long time to change their opinion of you. People, however, tend to be less overt in their judgement, a little sneakier and less honest. Animals will show you that they don’t like you, and you must win them round if you have to continue working with them. Human beings may not tell you that they don’t like you, and may not allow you to change their mind.
Previous experience has taught me not to judge too quickly: how a person behaves the first time you meet them is often not representative of their general behaviour, so everyone deserves a chance. Instead, I tread carefully upon first meetings – I like to wait until I have sized someone up, and they have shown their truer self before deciding how best to interact with them. Friends are choices we make, but colleagues and other social groups aren’t, so both strong working relationships and honesty are important.
My primary expectation and first impression of camp is showing to be the truth: that it is hard work, but rewarding. I’m disappointed that the weather has caught (me, a Brit!) by surprise: it’s phenomenally humid – at the time of writing, I don’t think I’ve stopped sweating for longer than I’ve spent in the shower. I’m sincerely hoping that changes during the summer.
It’ll be interesting to compare my first and final impressions, whether camp will take the chance I give it for a second.
What was the most recent thing to make a first impression on you? Did you change your mind at a later date?