Impressions are important to us as humans. We determine whether something or someone is desirable or dangerous to us. When we meet people, we sometimes quickly decide whether or not we’re going to have things in common, become friends, or part ways quickly.
First impressions, as we all know, weigh heavily, but perhaps too heavily in real terms. I’ve been introduced to more than a couple of people who I didn’t care for at the start. Reserving judgment, I gave them a second chance…or just a chance…to engage, cheer up, or present another side to themselves. A few times they did, and I’ve enjoyed rich friendships as a result.
I’m slow to condemn, slow to embrace. Like many Old Money Guys and Gals, I take my time getting to know people. Baby steps, as they say. People can put on an act for a period of time, but sooner or later, their true colors come through. I don’t want to be over-invested emotionally when that ship comes in. I’d rather be pleasantly surprised than profoundly disappointed. Being reserved and a little (socially?) distanced seems to be the best position from which to experience the better part of that equation. (I’ve been called aloof, but it’s not the worst thing I’ve been called.)
Being ‘impressed’ by someone or something is another aspect where the Old Money/New Money contrast really shows, as is ‘trying to impress’ someone. I’ve met a lot of people who’ve done a lot of things. Some very grand and very public. Some seemingly trivial and obscure. If they try to impress me by talking about their success, I’m fatigued. So many people talk. Who knows what they’ve really done. And so many people have done great things. How do you compare yourself to the greats? Best not to. But if someone quietly shares what they’re passionate about, that impresses me. Their life has meaning and purpose.
With regards to trying to impress others, I learned this lesson early: you’re never going to impress people you want to impress by trying to impress them. Inevitably, you’re going to brag about your new money to a guy or gal who’s got more money than you, has had it longer, and has never mentioned it to anyone.
That said, Old Money is impressed by certain things. Intelligence, education, discretion, charity, and manners, to name a few. Hard-earned accomplishments are often met with well-deserved congratulations. ‘Good for you!’ ‘Well done!’ You’ll often hear these from the more established: they feel no threat from your success. There’s no need to compete. There’s also the appreciation of seeing someone accomplish something worthwhile without taking shortcuts, without cheating, without calling in a favor or pulling a few strings.
So yes, make a good impression. But don’t try to impress. It’s more impressive when you don’t.