Knowing someone in person

Me at Waerebo, one of the traditional villages in Indonesia.

Have you ever known someone new in person and you feel comfortable or at least have no problem with him/her? You’re okay with him/her? Then some people tell you “bad things” bout him/her, from their past experience with him/her or what they heard from others. Then you’re worried that you’d face these bad sides of him/her. You’re scared. (And it might change your attitude towards him/her.) Have you experienced it?

Now imagine that person is you. You meet someone who feels okay with you, or even happy that s/he finds friendship and comfort in you. Then some people told him/her “bad things” about you. This is, of course, from past experience, which they believe still hold true. Or that can be from what they heard from others. Well, let’s say you were a bad person. But now you’ve changed, you want to be better, you’ve actually improved. But then this new friend of yours becomes “scared” of you. S/he starts to stay away from you. How would that make you feel?

Well, while it’s true that a true friend will stay with you no matter what people say bout you, it’s not impossible that what others say will affect him/her, the way what others say bout someone will affect your perception bout that person. And while it’s understandable that we need some references from others, sometimes first-hand experience is the best. That’s because people have different perspectives. If people say that I’m good and nice and feel comfortable with me, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll find me good, nice, and comfortable to be with as well. Likewise, if somebody says I’m like this and like that, which makes them uncomfortable, it’s not a guarantee that you’ll feel the same with the same me, whom they describe. Let’s say, someone might or might not like us for the same reason. It is like food, you know. If I tell you “nasi goreng” (fried rice, red) and “durian” is delicious, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll like them. If I tell you the otherwise, there’s also still possibility that you’ll still like them. You get what I mean? Well, I know for some people I can be fun to be with, but for some others I might be awkward and too serious to be with.

Thus, knowing this, maybe we want to be careful when we say things about someone to others. We can say that a person does this and that, but maybe we should avoid judging them. And, if people tell you things about someone, don’t just take it as it is without making your own assessment. Trust yourself. You know what is and is not good for you. You need to know someone in person just like people need to know you in person.

Me at Kampung Bena, another traditional village in Indonesia.

So, why I wrote what I wrote above? Well, the other day, we talked about this one professor in my campus. Some friends actually didn’t like him and said bad stuff about him and his teaching, and then one of my friends (she was a new student) started to get worried and scared because that professor has been advising her since last semester. So I told her what I wrote above. I told her that the friends who said “bad things” about him hadn’t actually taken his class; they only heard from others. I’d never taken his class as well, so I couldn’t say much. Then I felt sorry because I didn’t tell her about what some people have said about him. That’s because I myself had no problem and I didn’t want to affect her judgment, and so far I saw that she was okay being advised by him. So I didn’t say anything until that day we met some friends who said something about him. He visited my class once; my friend said it was terrible, but personally I didn’t see why it was terrible. I was okay with it, but maybe that’s because I didn’t pay attention or observe enough. I don’t know. So I also told this friend of mine, who began to worried about being advised by him, that some people also said terrible things about one of my advisors last semester; personally there are things that I don’t like as well, but so far I’ve felt okay working with him. And about the professor we initially talked about, I actually knew another friend (a senior) who once took his class, and quite the contrary to the terrible things that have been said, he actually liked his class and said that it was great. See? Same person, different evaluation by different people.

After saying those things to her, I received a text from her. She said that she learnt a great lesson from me. She mentioned that after hearing those bad things about him, she was so scared that she even forgot the time she’s spent with him even though it was the first time she heard something negative about him. She said she could relate since many people have been judging her without knowing her in person. She said if she was about to change her mind just by listening to the negative comment she just heard, she could only imagine what people may think about her if they have never talked to her in person. So she thanked me for what I said (and for being me). I am so happy because it means a lot to me, to know that I can put someone at ease, to know that what I say or do actually matters in a good way. I am the one being thankful for having a friend like her.

Therefore, I think I want to share this with you. You might have been misjudged because of what others say about you. Or you might have misjudged someone due to what others say about him/her. So maybe we should learn not to do that, or to see things from different perspectives. To know someone in person instead of from what others say about him/her.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *