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First Impressions: Why We Keep Our Real Selves Hidden When We Meet New People

Meeting someone for the first time is like meeting yourself all over again.

An introduction is a preface to who you are, what you represent and how well you display yourself.

So it’s no surprise when we tend to botch it, or worse… fake it.

When was the last time you gave someone a true impression of yourself on a first impression? You may say “all the time,” but when you think about it, were you showing them who you really are?

Did you reveal who you are when you’re alone in your room or did you show off who you are around your friends?

Are you saying the things you’d normally say and believing the things you believe? Are you really the most honest representation of yourself?

It can be a hard truth to face, but we're never ourselves on first impressions, and it's not our fault.

It’s a harsh world, and humans take rejection worse than any other species.

When we meet people for the first time, it’s unnerving. Will they like us? Understand us? And what happens if we reveal our hand too soon? Being an outsider on an inside crowd is intimidating and scary.

Remember how you felt on the first day of med school? High school? Law school? We were scared of being unloved, unaccepted and not liked for who we truly are.

Even if a first impression means nothing to us — even if the person we’re talking to is someone we never see again — we can’t help but care what they think.

It’s about protection.

The real you is a vulnerable person. The real you isn't ready to be critiqued and judged. So instead, you give them a different part of you.

You’re putting your best foot forward and showing off the sides of your personality you know are likable.

There’s no harm in playing it safe; you want to know what people are looking for before you show them who you are. It’s human nature.


It’s about denial.

It's a way to deny the “bad” qualities you don't like about yourself. Everyone has part of themselves they don't like, so why expose those parts to strangers? The point of first impressions is to make a good one, isn't it?

We've come to introducing strangers to the parts of ourselves we wish were real. We try to ignore the bad parts and only show them the “better” ones.


It’s about reinvention.

Meeting someone for the first time is a chance for us to be someone else, to watch ourselves perform as a new person.

It's another chance for another version of you — and you'll be damned if you don't seize the moment and take it.

First impressions aren't about introducing yourself, they're about reinventing yourself. For two minutes you get to be whoever you want to be.

You can try on new identities and new ideas of who you think you should be walking around as all the time.


It’s about bad history.

We all know how hard it is to recover from a bad first impression. Half the reason we're never ourselves is because we've been embarrassed before —and we'll be damned if we let that happen again.

A bad first impression can stick with you, whether it was one with a lot on the line (like a job interview) or just in front of someone you had a mild crush on.

The results are damaging enough to lock the real you away forever. At least, until you’re completely comfortable.


It’s about preconceived notions.

We think other people have their life together more than we do, however, as Ricky Gervais once eloquently put it,

No one knows what they're doing either.

We know the secret, yet we refuse to live by it. We know everyone around us is insecure too, and everyone is hiding some part of themselves they don’t like.

For some odd reason, though, we still think everyone is better off than us. So we fake it until we make it.


It’s about being judged.

We'd rather be accepted for who we're not than judged for who we are.

We know it should be the opposite way, but it's easier to let haters hate the part of us that isn’t real and keep our true selves for the people we know are worth sharing it with.

We want to show our true selves to people who won't make us feel bad about who we really are. These people love us enough to give us the confidence to stop hiding.


It’s about intimidation.

Exposing your true self means giving in. You’re giving them the first opportunity to judge and assume. If you keep your real self hidden, however, you have a chance to intimidate them the same way they’re intimidating you.

If you keep your real thoughts and your flaws off the record, they can’t take you to court.


iZombie, debuting on the CW, follows Liv as she tries to navigate work, life and the fact that she’s an undercover zombie. Wondering why we keep our real selves hidden? Find out as the show premieres on March 17. 

Lauren Martin

Freelance Contributor

Lauren Martin is a Senior Lifestyle Writer at Elite Daily. After graduating from PSU, she moved to NYC to write fart jokes at Smosh Magazine. Making her way to ED, she now writes riveting commentary on nude pics, condoms and first dates.
Lauren Martin is a Senior Lifestyle Writer at Elite Daily. After graduating from PSU, she moved to NYC to write fart jokes at Smosh Magazine. Making her way to ED, she now writes riveting commentary on nude pics, condoms and first dates.

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