When you think of making a good first impression, do your thoughts turn to how you can be attractive to someone you meet for the first time? I googled “first impressions” and what I found was mostly advice on how to make others like you immediately. The emphasis is on you. You make the impression on someone else.
“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”Will Rogers
But what about the other side of it? What about the impressions you first make of other people? Is the responsibility to get it right, to think well of someone, on you or on them? I hadn’t really thought about it until I sat down to write this post.
In full disclosure, this was intended to be a ‘Recipe and a Story’ post. When I mapped it out, I realized it was too long. So, this will be a two-part deal. Here in Part 1, I want to tell you the story. On Friday, I will post the recipe, which – spoiler alert – is for a mouth-watering, crust-less quiche. You won’t want to miss it! If you don’t already subscribe to the Back Porch, now would be the perfect time to do so.
I had done it – I had stepped out of my comfort zone and volunteered to help with an event. As a young, twenty-something year-old, I was new to the large church and acquainted with only a few people. To sign up and attend a meeting with unfamiliar faces was brave for me. I encountered a group of people much like me. We were all a bit awkward, and I was feeling good about it.
“You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
And then Brooke breezed in. Her personality immediately filled the room. Her smile was huge, and her confidence almost knocked me over. Literally. I turned to see the face that went along with the infectious laughter and tripped over the leg of my chair. I sat down hard. She was beautiful. She was graciously greeting and hugging each of the people with whom I’d just clumsily shaken hands. She put me ill at ease.
I made a first impression of her based on other people I’d known with large personalities. I was used to getting bowled over by them. I assumed I was going to dislike myself around her. I expected to spend much of my time trying to avoid her. But I was wrong. And I learned the first of two lessons on first impressions which would stick with me because of her.
First impressions do not always give people the space to be unique.
Fast forward several months. I got to know Brooke well. She was nothing like the others to whom I’d compared her when we first met. She was inclusive and kind. I adored her. I am, by nature, a co-pilot. I prefer not to be in charge, but I will work really hard to assist whoever is willing to fly the plane. Brooke, with her commanding presence and fun reputation, was the perfect leader for me to follow.
“New friends are like new adventures. You never know what lessons they will teach you.”Unknown
We teamed up officially to lead a small group of women for a semester and that experience cemented our lifelong friendship. It has been a couple of decades, but just this morning, when I saw her big smile on social media, it made me happy. I have a deep respect and appreciation for her. It is a notably different feeling than I had upon my first impression.
One morning, the group which Brooke and I led was tasked with providing breakfast for all the small groups of women in the ministry of which we were a part. Brooke pulled me aside and showed me the quiche she’d brought. It was still a bit runny, and she asked if I thought it would benefit from more time in the oven. Thankfully, the church had a full kitchen at our disposal, so I agreed with her idea to cook it longer.
My first impression was that the quiche didn’t appeal to me, and I would avoid it when my turn came for the buffet line. There were plenty of choices and I filled my plate with other things, even though the extra baking time seemed to have caused the eggs to set nicely.
I’m sure my breakfast was good. It was nothing memorable, and I cannot tell you what I ate. But several women around me raved about one dish. Brooke’s quiche. By the time I realized I was missing out on something spectacular, it was gone. My first impression cost me.
“Realize the value of putting down your first impression quickly.”Charles Webster Hawthorne
The quiche recipe ended up in a cookbook, which our ministry put out as a fundraiser. It became a staple at potlucks and buffet tables for as long as I attended that church. I made it often at home too. Even though it contained spinach, I never had to ask any of my kids twice to eat it. That made it a winner in my book!
My first impression was that the recipe was one to avoid. It didn’t appeal to me. I didn’t think I would enjoy it. I made the same mistake with the quiche as I’d made with Brooke. And I learned my second lesson.
First impressions are at a disadvantage because they do not know what finishing touches are yet to come.
My first impression of the quiche was premature. It wasn’t finished yet. It was not a new concept to me. As a kid, I had a notebook, the cover of which featured the outline of a girl with some tools at her feet. The caption read:
These two lessons on first impressions were too delightful not to share. The reason they turned delightful was because I was given the chance for reconsideration. But how many times have I lost out because I made first impressions and judged either according to past experiences or without considering the possibilities of the finished product?
The lessons were a gracious gift from God. The friendship with Brooke is something I cherish. And the quiche is simply outstanding. (I can’t wait to share the recipe with you!)
To be honest, there is nothing Brooke could have – or should have – done differently to sweeten my first impression of her. The impression I made was my responsibility. Same with the quiche. In both cases, I made a judgement based on my perception of how things were. And I was wrong.
People obsess about making a good first impression on others. They fuss over their appearance and their manners and such. I want to suggest that we pay as much attention to the first impressions we make of others.
And hopefully the two lessons I have learned are encouraging to you. They prove that a first impression which has gone awry does not have to be the last impression. Isn’t that delightful? We may not get a second chance to make a first impression, but we can look for our first chance to make a second impression.
“I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed this, but first impressions are often entirely wrong.”Daniel Handler
“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”Philippians 1:6