The choice to believe.

Maya Angelou once said, “When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.”

What happens when people do not show you who they are the first time? After all these blog posts I think we can safely state that each human has several sides to them. They are not simply good or bad. There are many more details to take into account if you truly want to understand another human being.

When a person makes a conscious effort to show you their one side what can you do to ensure that you see the “true” them?

Here is a conversation I overheard this week that made me question the characteristics we choose to show people and the characteristics we choose to believe in other people.

I was standing in the train on my way home when two first year students hop in and stand next to me. Here’s the conversation* I had to endure hearing (I mistakenly left my earphones at home):
Fabulous wannabe: “I tried to make out with Jen when we were all sitting together and she avoided me. Man, when I asked her…you know we were walking back to class afterwards, and she just said, “I wasn’t expecting it.”
Rick Ross wannabe: “Yo man, that’s chicks though. But what about Tam?”
Fabulous wannabe: “Yo man, I think it’s just easier having friends with benefits. The way to get a girl to be your friend with benefits is you act as it nothing happened after you’ve hooked up. Then it’s not awkward and she’ll want a relationship so will continue being your friend with benefits.” (Hideous laugh from both parties).
After a conversation about parties, second years, one girl’s boyfriend and family…
Rick Ross wannabe: So you going to the party?
Fabulous wannabe: Yeah, do you think if Tam gets drunk I should get with her?”
Thankfully their stop arrives and they leave before that question is answered.

Avoiding the discussion about youth and the other very obvious topics we could discuss about this conversation, let us focus on the main point. Seeing this side of these two people I judged them as inconsiderate and emotionally manipulative. I assumed they would attempt to hide the manipulation from the two females and be seen to only have good intentions.

If people only ever show you their good characteristics, do you believe them? Do you not question their intentions? Or do you not believe anything until you are convinced that you’ve seen most of their characteristics? If they are anything like the two heroes in the above story then by that time it may be too late – you may be so muddled up in their story that you forget your own.

How do you then believe a person when they show you who they are the first time? Contextually Maya Angelou made the statement when she was discussing failed relationships and questioned why people hold on when they’ve been shown a certain characteristic several times over and over again. But I believe this statement can be used in all types of relationships. People will not or will never tell you who they are. It’s always in their actions and that makes it even harder. Does this mean that we can no longer believe what people tell us and do we need to pay attention to their actions only?

With this conclusion we can only hope Jen and Tam are able to separate the spoken and unspoken words from the actions of our two heroes in this story and manage to believe them the first time.

*Names were changed and the conversation altered slightly due to profanities used.

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