The Irreverent Professor

Unvarnished realities about life, teaching, learning, and change in this wild, wild world

Archive for the tag “friendship”

First Impressions…Don’t Judge a Book By it’s Cover and All That

First impressions are important.  And yet they are often misleading.  So why do we put so much stock in them?  I confess to meeting someone once and quickly categorizing them on one of the shelves in my mental library of acquaintances: Someone I’d Rather Not See Again, Someone I’d Say Hi to if I Passed Them on the Street, Someone I’d Like to Have a Drink With, Instant Family.

I saw a new doctor last week who was recommended by a friend.  The experience was…tepid.  She (the doctor, not the friend) seemed distracted and basically let me dictate my own care–I need these prescriptions refilled, I need these labs, I need something for this.  I don’t want to dictate my care.  I’m a doctor, but of the PhD variety.

We can't all make such a great first impression.

We can’t all make such a great first impression.

All I should get to dictate are long, boring papers with lots of citations in them.  The funny thing is, though, that two people have now raved about this doctor to me.  About how caring and personable she is.  So instead of categorizing her on the “Someone I’d Rather Not See Again” shelf, I’m going to assume she was just having one-of-those-days.  I mean, who knows what is going on in her office or in her life?

Plus, and this is my big aha for the day–I realize that I often don’t make a very good first impression.  I suspect that you could ask five people who just met me in different circumstances and get five very different first impressions.  When I’m “on” (such as when I’m doing my public speaking thing), I have been told that I come across as an extroverted, funny, and smart.  But if you meet me at a reception, you’d likely think “What a personality-less dud.”  Or maybe just “Rude.”  And if I have ever ignored you walking down the street, it was (probably) not intentional.  I once walked right past two people I’d just had dinner with it…and truly did not see them.  See, I live in my head.  It’s a busy place (think: Alice in Wonderland meets Salvador Dali with Transformers everywhere) and I’m often so immersed in it that I don’t even see the “outside” world.  I’m working on being more present and more mindful, but it doesn’t come naturally to me.

Me trying to make a good first impression on the (then) unknown birth mother who would choose us to be parents for the child she carried.  Apparently it worked!

Me trying to make a good first impression on the (then) unknown birth mother who would choose us to be parents for the child she carried. Apparently it worked!

What kind of first impression do you make?  Have you ever thought about it?  Has anyone ever said anything to you about it?  I’ve told a few people that turned out to totally rock that I had, um, less-than-stellar first impressions of them and that I was happy to be wrong.

My food for thought today.

Carpe lasting impressions.

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Treat Every Time Like the First Time–for Everything

This was the first week of the semester at the university I teach at.  I taught  pretty much the same courses I’ve taught every semester for the three years I’ve been here.  Shoot, they were basically the same classes I’ve been teaching for the last 11 years I’ve been a college professor (at several different universities).  Yet I was nervous as heck about walking into class the first day.  Some of my colleagues said they were too.  We decided that was a good thing.  Being a little nervous keeps us sharp and on our toes.  It may even have made us better professors this week.

A few nerves might be good thing to keep me sharp as a speaker

A few nerves might be good thing to keep me sharp as a speaker

The same thing happens to me when I speak to a group.  Although I have been a professional public speaker for nearly 15 years, I still get nervous each and every time I step out onto the stage (or dais, riser, carpet, or whatever).  And maybe that’s just the natural state of things for an introvert like me.  But I think it’s a good thing.  The fear at the beginning makes the feeling of accomplishment at the end all the sweeter.  Especially if it’s a hit (I ad lib and go rogue on myself sometimes, so what comes out isn’t necessarily exactly what I’d planned–sometimes a good thing, sometimes not).

I was recently reading this post “16 Ways I Blew My Marriage” by Dan Pearce at SingleDadLaughing.  What struck me was (a) he’s hilarious and (b) he was saying basically that we should treat our relationships as new all the time (my interpretation, not necessarily his).  When we get too comfortable, we get lackadaisical.  When we get lackadaisical, we stop trying.  And it shows.  Apathy and discontent ensues.  Fade to gray.

I have over time gotten apathetic about things like friendships, restaurants, vacation destinations, and activities. But maybe that’s because I started taking people for granted, ordered the same dish every time, didn’t research new destinations, and didn’t challenge myself, respectively?

I fortunately have yet to feel apathetic about my marriage (14 years and still going strong!), but I do occasionally ask my husband if it’s absolutely necessary that we walk around the house dressed like hobos in our very worst looking (but absolutely most comfortable) clothes.  [Despite this post, I do not anticipate putting on heels and slathering on make-up every day for my husband.  There is a limit.]

And if I’m completely honest about why we had a kid (in our 40’s), it was at least in part because of an outburst (ok, melt-down) I had one night about the boring predictability of our lives (work until 5:00, dinner at 6:00, watch television 8:00-10:00, rinse, repeat.  With an (almost) 4 year old now, nothing is predictable.  And it’s pretty awesome…because every day is a brand-new experience.

I’m going to try harder to find the “new” in everything and to treat every experience like it’s the first time.  Join me?

Carpe new!

New Years Resolutions of a Teacher…and More

It’s almost New Year’s Eve here and so of course I’m thinking about my new year’s resolutions.  And all the resolutions that came before and were not achieved (or were – but mostly not).  Which makes me realize that I need to frame my New Year’s Resolutions a bit better.

So this year, I am not going to make my new year’s resolutions…

  • To lose weight (although I need to)

    G and TW

    My cousin G was kind enough to say that I was “the thinnest she’d ever seen me” on this visit. I’ve gained it back. Viva la chocolat!

  • To exercise regularly (although I need to do this too)
  • To be less stressed (although I desperately need to be)
  • To travel more (although sometimes I want to)

And so on…

Instead this year, my New Year’s Resolution will simply be this: to be a better me.

  • To be a better professor to my students. For any students reading this: that doesn’t necessarily mean easier or higher grader.  But it does mean trying really hard to come up with new and improved ways of conveying information with the end goal of helping you gain knowledge and experience that will help you in the “real world.”
  • To be a better wife. My husband is a saint and does far more than his share of everything…well, everything except shopping for our son’s clothes.  He hates that.
  • To be a better mother.  Everyone has gifts.  Patience is not one of mine.  Having a child has not improved that.  Fortunately, one of my gifts seems to be acting completely silly, so that helps.

    The greatest motivator of all for improvement.

    The greatest motivator of all for improvement.

  • To be a better friend.  I am not a great friend.  I prioritize a number of things (including all of the above, as you see) above being a friend.  I want to be a better friend, whatever that means.  I hope it means happy hour once a week with my friends, but we’ll see.

    Friends at PCMA Dinner

    Dear friends at a fancy pants dinner in 2012

  • To be a better professional.  I love the field that I’m in and I enjoying speaking, presenting, and training.  But after a while, it becomes easy to “phone it in.”  And that happens when I start getting bored.  So this year I’m going to figure out how I can provide something the industry needs and be true to my own interests, too.  No compromises.

Stay tuned for improvements to be made.

Carpe the new year.

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