First impressions can be cruel. One gaffe and you’ll forever be that person who made themselves look like an idiot in someone’s eyes. Or at least that’s how some of the more nervous among us — myself included — might feel. However, I’m inclined to believe that reality is much different than that uncompromising fiction. 

It’s not unreasonable to say that making a first impression is like trying to stick your foot into a closing door. Many of our interactions with strangers are fleeting episodes that never resurface again, and sometimes that’s a gift: If the person you happen to interact with doesn’t particularly care to remember you, you’ll rapidly fade into the sea of strangers in their mind. Other times it’s a disappointment — Maybe you’ve struck up a conversation with someone interesting, only for the universe to pry you apart before you’ve exchanged contact information.

Perhaps the only way to prevent yourself from sinking into that ocean of once-seen faces, to light a rescue beacon before it’s too late, is to do something remarkable. But preferably not remarkably stupid. Do something that makes you memorable, whether it’s asking an insightful question or making someone laugh. Make an impression. Of course, this means you have to take risks and avoid milquetoast nothing-talk; but if that’s all you feel like you can talk about, you will likely be shuffled into the deep recesses of their memory, unlikely to be called upon again. 

But what if you screwed up your first impression? And one day you see them and they’re looking at you, certainly thinking of the time you made a fool of yourself, and oh God they’re walking toward you with a face that says “I know you from somewhere…”

Then, your second impression will have to be better. In my 19 years of making first impressions — some of them less than stellar — I’ve found that people will give you a second chance if you give them something to care about. Just because you messed up the first time doesn’t mean you should withdraw and stop being interesting. If anything, you ought to make an effort to be more engaged: Listen well, ask relevant questions, smile often, crack a joke, and share what you care about.

None of this is a guaranteed “How to Make People Like You” guide, by the way. I’m not even sure if any of this works. But people seem to like talking to me, so maybe some of this does work. 

Anyways, if this is your first impression of me, I hope it’s been a good one. 

An open letter to all members of any university community

I strongly oppose the proposed divestment resolution. This resolution is nothing more than another ugly manifestation of antisemitism at the University.

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