Depth Perception

The 20s are all about connecting with other people. There's no time like the present especially when you're in such a transient period in your life such as college. People pass in and out of your life frequently, determining who's going to stay for a while and who's moving on through can be a struggle and a half. Some people are meant to co-star for  your full series run and others are guest starring for a few episodes before being written out the show known as your life. Now who gets hired and who gets the axe, that's a tough one. Impressions are crucial. Superficial or endlessly deep, check your depth perception.

There's this thing in the whole job application process called the "elevator pitch" (no, not like Pitch Perfect that'd be acca-awkward). Basically, it's like if you were in an elevator with the president/CEO of a company/business that you'd want to work for, what would you say in the 30 seconds you had with them to make a memorable impression. I have yet to work on mine but it's something you have to be prepared to do. How do convey the necessary basic facts of who you are and add your personality enough to get someone to remember you? I'm hoping to have mine down by the end of the summer but it just brings to mind how important first impressions are. The truth of the matter is that every single person we come across we judge them. Regardless of whether or not we believe it to be true, we do it. Every single of us, to every person we lays eyes on. We're assessing so many things at the same time but most upfront, is this person potentially going to be a danger to me (yes or no?). Once we get past that, we're checking for other things to figure out whether we should talk to them, will we like them, are we attracted to them, and all these other things in between. It's crazy. From head to toe, skin color, hair style, clothing, jewelry, tattoos/piercings, accessories, and everything in between that let us assess some of the visible identities people may hold and what that means in relation to us. Just what the hell are we looking for? I think we're looking for ourselves (but Joey, what does that mean - stop being philosophical). We want to see ourselves reflected in other people to know that we may share a common experience or to find some sort of commonality.

Difference, no matter how "open-minded" we claim to be, initially startles us (there's that possibility to not connect and that's absolutely the most terrifying thing that can happen between people). What makes us who we are is how we respond and proceed from there, particularly when we realize someone is not the same as us (aka every single person we ever meet). So how do we make a good first impression? Well, we have to remember that we will not always make a good one, and that sometimes when we think we messed up monumentally, people may like us even more because of it. There's no one more critical of us than us ourselves. It's cliché but super simple, be yourself. Whoever that is, and own it. If it's energetic, bubbly and extroverted, great work with it. If it's more relaxed, slightly reserved, and somewhat more pensive, then make moves with that too. However your carry yourself and your personality make sure you're engaging. Conversations require two people. To the long-winded ranters, give room for responses, and to those who listen more than they talk, say something and keep up. I imagine people are talking to me because they want to hear from me (makes sense, doesn't it). All I know is if I met Bill Rancic, Oprah, or Shonda Rhimes I would hopefully be able to bring my A-game, make meaningful conversation and land myself a job. Depth perception adjusted.

Working with orientation this summer has allowed me to survey the gamut of people and explore my own sense of depth perception. With each interaction I gained some insight on to how people show up and carry themselves. There were so many smiles, a ton of laughter, a plethora of awkward moments, and even a few rough times but that's what you get with people. Even through my time spent with my co-workers, namely David and Heather but everyone in a different way, I learned about myself and how I form connections with people. Sarcasm and humor would definitely be two hallmarks of my personality but understanding that my brand of facetiousness and jokes can be thoroughly off-putting, abrasive and downright mean, especially if you don't know, understand, or pick up on the context of me. Session 6 has come and gone and looking back on my interactions I for sure see what my peers gave me discernment on. For my final orientation session I was a family orientation leader meaning I wouldn't have my own group of students but my student ended being people heavy. I spent the majority of my talking, a lot and fast, with a constant barrage of people. It was imperative and I pushed myself so hard to bring the best parts of me, a big smile, a couple jokes, a quirky story or two and authentic compassion. I'm proud to say from beginning to end, from helping check in tens of students, to getting hype at the welcome, sitting in on information sessions, helping students & families navigate campus, dancing at block party, manning the info desk and everything in between, I brought my best self.

The thing that stood out to me most was being able to make worthwhile connections with students even though I didn't personally have any I was guiding. That was such a distinct and truly fulfilling experience. The next day I was tasked with bringing my A-game as I helped out in the library with course registration and even helped solve a tricky schedule out for a good half an hour. I even found time to get real with Lila and Kelsey on some SJ stuff which was one of many highlights of the day. In the afternoon I checked students out and made conversation, not just small talk, unique for each person I came into contact with. Later there was some soul-warming staff recognition in the forms of anonymous shoulder tapping, group hugs and individual heartfelt word exchanges + squeezes. As a former non-hugger, seeking people out to tell them what they meant to me through the summer as we hugged was powerfully moving. Some people like David and Sydney I didn't even have to say anything, and the emotion as conveyed while others like Heather, Lila, Angela, Lexi, Sierra, Theresa and so many others speaking had just as much power. I saved the most unbearably endearing embrace with Benjy for last - I may just very well love the heck out of that guy (well hot shat, that happened fast). The evening was spent eating and just talking with people about our initial first impressions, who/why we compare ourselves to be better people, and some personal stories. My depth perception can be completely off sometimes and it just takes some adjusting. Take it there and stay there when you can.

Depth perception is a funny thing. I'm near-sighted and totally remember getting glasses in first grade. It was the only time in elementary school that I forgot to do my homework and my teacher had to move my card to red. I had to sit at recess alone and do my work but that's besides the point. When I received my first pair of glasses (as hideous as they were #50shadesofbrown) my entire life changed and even again when I made the switch contacts (guess who was secretly cute behind those specs). What I'm trying to say is I could see the world and myself more clearly. Sometimes who we think people are and who they actually are can be quite different. We want and wish people to be who we want them to so bad that we're blinded by our imaginations of who they are rather than accepting the reality of who we have in front of us. When our vision returns, we can realize that some people may be more superficial than we can handle and others deeper than we initially thought. And so we come to a crossroads, do we let people into our lives when we need them and/or do we keep those who may not be quite right for us but have played their part? The answer to both is yes, but it's harder than that. We have to let go of people who we don't need anymore and those who are detrimental to our lives. So many times we drag on these connections that were weak in the first place and why, because we think being separate is worse than being together and toxic to one another. I know I self-sabotage some of newer friendships for so many twisted reasons. Maybe I don't think I deserve friends, and maybe I'm still hurt from the past and can't trust people. I still see myself pushing away people who very well may be the best things to happen to be this summer and holding on to somethings that were never truly there. We can hope, want, and wish all we want, but some people just aren't right for us. LET THEM GO. If they're supposed to depart for a while and come back to your life show, their decked out chair will be waiting for them. If they're due for a write off then send them off and recast their role or welcome new cast members. You'll be okay. The show must and will go on. Lastly, take into account that it's not always about you. I came to realize that once more this past week and it's changed how I see so many people. It's not always that people have me on their minds (cause you know I don't) - they have other things going on too. Cut some slack where it is due or cut the cord where you need to. Depth perception can mess you right on up, but eventually you'll see clearly again.

My blog post question for the day is ... what was your first impression of me (whether you know me personally or not)? Once you've spent time with people, that is such an interesting question to ask and to hear the answer can sometimes be shocking. Prepare yourself, you might not like it.


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