Ever meet someone and think they’re awesome and then after you continue to develop a relationship with them, realize a few red flags may have been missing from that first encounter? Or maybe you met someone and your first impression was meh but it wasn’t until the fifth meeting you realized this was a relationship worth developing?
Google quotes on first impressions and you’ll find most people put first impressions on a pretty high pedestal. While I do believe in the importance of always trying to put your true self forward in a first meeting, I also know how often I fail at this in my own life, and that I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt to just about any relationship I come into contact with.
Take for instance, my first two weeks of college in January. It had been (mumbled)+ years since I’d been a full-time student. I prepared by taking a course on learning how to learn, buying my books and class materials early, and reviewing the syllabi for all my classes before day 1. Week one was a breeze. Mostly getting to know the professors and reviewing the syllabi I’d already diligently gone through for each class. Week two we got started on some actual education, including in-class learning and homework. My relationship with school was going swimmingly. We were getting along great, and then week three punched me in the face. Assignments due in three of my five classes. An essay due the following week for one class and an exam for another class, along with written assignments due for three other classes, and one more for the class I was already writing an essay for.
First impression of college: easy peasy, as long as you’re prepared!
Truth: totally doable, as long as you adjust to stay prepared!
I could have allowed my relationship with school to become strained. To allow my gremlins to tell me I couldn’t hack it, that it was time to go back to the real world and get a job, and stop wasting time with all this academic education I didn’t need anyway. But when I look at the reason I went back to school, it wasn’t because I was lacking in education, but because I was desiring more and of a different variety. Totally different relationship.
So I nixed that first impression from my brain and focused on the relationship I wanted to have with college:
- enough time to do well and also be well
- learning without overwhelm
- you’re older than 50% (okay, 80%) of your classmates — let it go
- loving and playful
- enjoy all this new information
- enjoy the people you’re surrounding yourself with
- enjoy the before, the after, and the during
- put in the work to do well
- learn for learning’s sake, not for credit’s sake
- apply your learning to your daily life
If I focus on the relationship, school doesn’t have to be harder than I thought it was going to be. It’s just school, and I get to develop that relationship as we go. This is life, not just school. If you focus on the relationship–whatever relationship you might be struggling with–it doesn’t have to be as hard as it feels. Take a deep breath, slow the f*** down, and be open to adjusting whatever is necessary to truly honor that relationship.