Have you ever met someone who’s general presence just kind of irks you despite having never had a personal conversation with them?
It feels so natural to do so, and it’s probably because our reliance on first impressions is so decisive in how we perceive others.
However, while it’s extremely easy to say that you always give people a fair shake, I think it would be disingenuous to think that we have optimistic opinions of everyone we meet.
In turn, I wanted to provide a personal anecdote about getting over your slight displeasure of others’ presence. Recently, I had the opportunity to help a couple of students with their homework.
One of them had a skater boy and punk vibe about him while the other had a clean cut and a slick, yet generic, polyester fit. As I was helping them, I became consciously aware that I tended to give more attention to the latter gentleman.
However, once I finished helping them, the skater boy stayed behind as he had some questions about my experience in school. It was here that my bias was absolutely shattered.
Before I knew it, we were reminiscing about our enjoyment of AP BC Calculus and discussing the best way to shove three enjoyable degrees into one undergraduate career.
The change in my mindset was slight, and it was rooted in commonalities that we were able to find through conversation.
Once again, it seems so painfully obvious, yet I think we’d be surprised by how obstinate we are towards wanting to learn more about others. This past semester I’ve caught myself thinking, “I don’t want to meet more people as a senior, especially if they are freshmen.”
Simply giving up on making connections is so easy. Confirmation bias is so easy. Stewing in the discontent brought about by being around those who aren’t carbon copies of people we traditionally approve of is so easy.
Unfortunately for us though, we aren’t as special as we think.
It’s common to think that we’d never be able to agree with certain people, but this viewpoint is close-minded and ignorant.
Despite our cultural or social differences, humans are remarkably unremarkable in their ability to be different. There’s a reason that patterns in human thought are found not only across cultures but also across time.
There are loads of items we can connect with others about, and it takes one conversation, perhaps just one question, to find that out.
If you think it’s not worth your time, then that’s your loss. Life is too short to be a jerk, so it’s not worth your time being grouchy and overly judgmental. In other words, grow up and use your big boy or girl words to have a real conversation, and you’ll be better for it.