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First Time Believer


During a time I was struggling to navigate the sharp corners of my love life, a close friend imparted to me some sage wisdom. The wisdom was “when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

I can remember walking along the trail from Berri to Martins Bend and stopping dead in my tracks as her words filtered through my iPhone and straight down to my heart. Her insight was poignant and painful because it forced me to awaken to a reality I had purpose built, without the comfort of my rose coloured glasses.

The process of acceptance and grief was arduous, as belated realisation often is, but beyond the individual this advice was given in relation to, those words stayed deep in the grottos of my psyche, ready to be deployed in the early interactions of all my relationships going forward.

In a sense, my friend’s insight was just another incantation of the age-old phrase, “first impressions are last impressions”. Yet, her adaptation seemed to sharply take into consideration the way we construct mental narratives around people of intimate importance, to justify our expectations being unmet and our inevitable dissatisfaction as a symptom. 

I was recently reminded of this sentiment during Oprah Winfrey’s backstage Q&A discussion at the 2018 Golden Globe Awards. Ms Winfrey quoted the same expression, only rather than attributing it to my friend (which would have stopped me dead in my tracks again), she credited Maya Angelou – it’s original source.

Hearing the phrase having now healed from my own disappointment, it shone with a different intensity. If we should be more perceptive and realistic towards people who exhibit unfavourable qualities in the beginning, should we be more aware and accepting of people who are willing show us their warmth and sensitivity during early openings too? Are we so occupied ignoring red flags that we also ignore green lights?

Further to this, I began to wonder, what kind of first impressions have I emitted in the past to people who’ve considered me close, in either place or relationship. Have I been a go-sign, or a warning-sign?

I went down to Martins Bend to sit and ponder this another time. Sometimes through rose coloured glasses, red flags just look like flags.

I drew the conclusion that in light of the New Year, which signifies new beginnings and therefore the potential for new relationships (of every kind), I am spending 2018 being a person who shows their true self promptly and proudly. In doing so, I can only hope it reminds me that others will do the same. And when they do, I’ll trust that they know themselves better than I do, and I’ll believe them… the first time.

Originally published in The Murray Pioneer

Paige Leacey