It’s an old saying, but oh so true.
How often have you looked at a book cover and thought it would be something worth reading, only to find you just couldn’t get past the first few pages. Or even read a chapter or three and thought it just wasn’t worth continuing, that you could spend your time much more productively doing something else.
I know the feeling well, and sometimes it can be so disappointing, especially when you’ve saved it for a special time like a holiday.
People can be much like books. We often see only the surface, like the cover of the book.
We make judgements on a short connection, labelling the person as being ‘touchy’ or ‘aggressive’ or even ‘rude’. Or we might meet someone and think ‘What a lovely soul’ after only spending a brief time with them, then meeting them again and finding them totally different.
Now sometimes this can be attributed to someone just having a bad day, and haven’t we all had them a time or two? So we might give them the benefit of doubt, putting them in that category.
I work as a casual in a retail clothing store, a job I really enjoy as I get to talk to lots of lovely people. There has only been the rare occasion when someone has been rude to me. Usually if they are a bit terse I can make a few comments and have them chatting quite easily. Some are not so easy. Others seem very polite, but not inclined to chat, and I respect that, keeping conversation to the necessary minimum.
The other day, I had a customer who I’ve chatted with before, but not more than comments on the weather or the clothing on display. I had thought her to be a little stand-offish, but politely so. This particular day she commented on my locket, saying that she had one the same size and just like it. We spoke about it for a bit, and I told her how I’d searched for it so I could put a decent size photograph in it. As I said that I opened it and showed her my photo of Kelly. She smiled and told me how she has a picture of both her children in hers, and the conversation progressed to sharing about our children and their ages. When I said that Kelly will always be twenty – forever young, she looked surprised and then realised what I meant. So then we talked on the death of a child and suicide.
When I mentioned the book I’d written, she started talking about her experience as her partner had also died by suicide. Talking of her years of struggle to provide an income as a sole parent back when there was not much government assistance. She shared confidential information with me, all because I’d walked in her shoes for a bit.
It got me thinking about the people we meet, but don’t really know anything about. How we judge them, make assumptions based on brief meetings, label them and put them in various categories that we have created. But that’s not who they really are.
Consider the image that you portray to others, the first impression you make. Some of us are shy and reserved, until we get to know someone better. Others of us are garrulous and outgoing all the time, cheerful no matter what. Some seem unfazed by anything – but are they really? What is happening beneath the surface?
So when you next meet someone who you think is rude, ask yourself if thats really who they are, and could they be suffering or grieving or just having a bad day? Or perhaps is the way you are feeling clouding your judgement?
Maybe not judge that book by its cover.