You Gave Me The Impression…

You Gave Me The Impression...

In college I hated Impressionist art. I didn’t think impressions mattered. Why did Monet have to paint his impressions of a river? Why not just paint the river itself, the way it really is? That was then, a time when the world was black and white, either real or fake.
Today, I’m paying $23 to see a traveling exhibit of Monet’s Impressionists paintings. Things have changed since college. With time I’ve learned that—whether I like it or not— impressions often influence us more than the real thing.

I read that if you ask the average person how many friends in this world could paint a realistic picture of them the response would be 2 or 3. Yes, at max two or three people can paint you the way you really are. I’ve also experienced this. I worked positions where time after time people could not even name a single “emergency contact”.

“I don’t know who I’d put, I don’t know anyone that well,” they’d say. Likewise, no one probably knows you that well either.

A tiny handful of people paint that real picture. The rest of your five dozen short or long relationships in life; bar friends, jogging friends, first dates, job interviews are managed by impressions. Those impressions may be the actual you; and they may not.

That may be a little daunting but how could you expect otherwise? Most of these people in your life have never seen how you kill a three-hour layover or how you grocery shop. They’ve seen the outside of your car but not the inside of your room. They can’t know the real you.

Now, I’ve come to love all this and to the point of paying to see impressions. It takes a lot of pressure off life.

People say no to you, people love you; people flake on you, people find you fascinating…none of it really matters a whole lot. Most likely they were reacting to an impression or partial truth at best; don’t get inflated or too flattered; don’t take it too personally.

It’s that atom-sized core group of people in your life and what they opine of you that really matters. They were there when you were nobody; when you were somebody else, when you were being torn down or rebuilt. At the end of the party they’re never afraid to say what they really think. “You’ve got style bro, keep it up.”

My impression of the river may not be the same as Monet’s; but I can’t deny that impressions are the majority of the pictures we paint of other people and probably the ones they paint of us. Relax, enjoy the art exhibit, it doesn’t always have to be the real thing.