One of the great joys in life is being surprised by a loved one.
I don’t mean like a surprise party. I mean being surprised by learning something new about them, something that didn’t fit your idea of who they are.
Like when you find out about your partner had a childhood celebrity crush or your best friend’s been grinding away at a secret hobby or your daughter slipped a classic rock song in her playlist.
In that little moment, they expand a bit, and since we’re forced to readjust our understanding of them, we expand, too. It’s a gift exchange of sorts. I give you the space to surprise me, and you give me the surprise.
So how come we can’t afford this same gift to strangers? Why are we so reluctant to let largely unknown people surprise us about who they really are?
We’d rather define the soul of another by a few typed or spoken words. And once we put them in that box, is it any wonder they respond like a caged animal?
No one person is a single act or a cluster of words. Yet, that’s what we beg people to be when we first meet them.
Their first word.
Their first gesture.
We even let their absence define them.
Do you believe they didn’t show up?
We’re far too obsessed with first impressions. When it comes to people, must we be so efficient?
Where’s the harm in offering them the space to make a second impression? Why keep them in that box, when there are countless surprises we can both unwrap?
Life’s better that way.