It is a well-known fact that the first impressions can be wrong. Our preconceived notions about other people distort the true perception of them. Very often, when we have made an opinion about someone, we are reluctant to change it, although the actions and attitude of this person can show that you are wrong. Furthermore, people tend to judge others quickly and to make false opinions. We are all different with our own characters, attitude towards the surrounding world, and other people. The differences between us should not be perceived as obstacles to communication. Instead, we have to recognize them and try to think about why the other persons behave in a certain way.
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In this essay, I am going to discuss the problem of prejudice towards others and to tell you about my personal experience, which has made me rethink my attitude toward the person, whom I know.
Several years ago, my neighbors moved to another city and sold their house to another family, which was composed of the father, the mother, and two children, a girl of my age and her elder sister. They settled down in the neighborhood and started their ordinary life. The father went to work early in the morning. The mother was a housewife for a certain time and later also found a job. The girls went to the local schools. I should say that all of my neighbors were rather friendly. My parents were close friends with the couple that moved to another city and I was on friendly terms with their children. We still communicate with each other and the distance does not impede our relationships.
Besides, my parents and I were in good relationships with other families living in the neighborhood. When our new neighbors arrived, I understood that it was a challenge for them to become accustomed to their new life in a new place. It was interesting for me to know the girls better. By the way, their names were Julia, my coeval, and Jessica, her elder sister. Julia went to the same school as I did. When the children came altogether to communicate during the break, she preferred standing aside. After a couple of days, I decided to initiate the conversation. During the break, I tried to approach her.
I went to her and said, “Hi, Julia! Why do you stand here? Let’s go to others!”.
She said, “Hi, I prefer looking through of the window”.
I could not imagine how looking through the same window could be interesting every day. I thought that she just was too arrogant and ignored me and others. Was I right at that time? I made my opinion quickly and stopped my attempts to befriend her. I just said, “Ok. You know better. It seems to me that you will not be a part of our team”. Did I think before I said? Probably, not well enough.
The following day, things were the same. All the students communicated with each other, whereas Julia stood at the window. My classmates asked me what was wrong with her. They did not understand why she did not want to talk to them or just to have a quick word with somebody. I had been already persuaded by the correctness of my opinion and said that Julia refused to communicate with others. “She prefers looking through the window”, I explained.
Julia’s family had been living in our neighborhood for almost two years. During that time, she did not communicate with her coevals. She did not have friends. Due to the fact that she studied well and communicated with the teachers, I was even more persuaded that she was just arrogant. After two years, Julia moved from our neighborhood to some other place with her family. I did not hear anything about her for a long time.
Six months ago, I met Julia by accident. It was the time when my world perception and understanding of other people changed, I guess. I met Julia at the students’ conference. I was lucky to hear her presentation on children’s psychology. It had been done really well. She talked about the children’s psychological problems and tried to explain why some children could not integrate into the peer group. Julia gave the example from her personal experience of studying at school.
It was the moment when I felt ashamed of the opinion I made about her and the things I said to others. She said that she was treated badly by her coevals when she lived in the economically distressed neighborhood of her home town. She said that, when she moved with her family to our neighborhood, she went to the local school but could not communicate with other children because she did not trust her coevals anymore. She feared being offended once again. She said that she wanted to be a part of our group but she could not mentally.
It was the moment when the fallacy of my preconceived notions about her became obvious. I realized that it was I who was arrogant, not her. I thought about me and her behaviors and our conversation at that time. If I had been more thoughtful and less proud of myself, I would have been more tolerant and have not said to others that she was arrogant.
During the break, I had another chance to communicate with Julia. She knew me as soon as she saw me. She smiled and looked very well. I congratulated her on her successful presentation and said that she made me think about some moments from my school years. Julia admitted that she always considered me as a very easy-going and open-hearted girl. She added that she wanted to be similar to me.
After our conversation, I realized that our preconceived notions impede our relationships with other people. Moreover, our prejudice and stereotypes can make us hard-headed and arrogant. My mistake was that I made my opinion regarding Julia too quickly and did not think about why she avoided communication with others. I recognized that, in essence, it was not she who was unfriendly, it was I. If I had had the opportunity to get back to that moment when I tried to approach her during the school break, I would have said some other words to her. Probably, I would have said, “I like looking through the window too. Would you mind if I stand with you?”
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In summary, it should be said that although we should be able to exercise judgment and to make our own independent opinions, we should be tolerant and patient towards others. The situations, which happened in my life, made me rethink my attitude toward other people and change myself.