This post touched a few nerves back when it was published in July last year. The feedback we had was from people on both sides of the coin and it was kind of cool getting people to challenge their own thinking…
The beauty of moving to a new town where you know nobody, and I mean literally nobody, is that they have no other choice but to take you on face value. Any of your past mistakes or achievements really mean nothing when you’re the new kid on the block. Yes people may be a little wary of you at first, but if you decide to make an effort to get yourself involved in things, you’ll generally be fairly well accepted.On the flip side, being the new person in town also means that you get to take all the locals on face value. As is so common in most country towns, everybody knows everybody’s business. Everyone’s minor misdemeanors are public knowledge- who has gone broke, who has slept with who, who was a jerk in high school, who got in a fight, who was dealing drugs, who cheated on who, who’s had plastic surgery, who’s about to leave their wife, who got fired, who’s on the latest health craze and who is currently pregnant. I know stuff about people I’ve never even met. And there’s people who know things about me that I’ve never met. Growing up in a capital city, you had a fair amount of anonymity. Those growing up in a country town aren’t afforded that luxury.
So I take people on what I know of them now. If they are a decent person, good fun to be around and treat others with respect, there’s a fair chance that I’ll be getting along with them. If they were a jerk five years ago, that’s not really any of my business. The fact that they have obviously realised that and made changes to become the decent person that I know five years later, is all that really matters. Yet I have seen time and time again people hanging on to the version of the person they know from ‘back then’.So here’s a heads up, it’s no longer back then. It’s now. People reflect, people make changes, people grow up. Perhaps I’m a glass half full person and prefer to see the good in people. But I do know when I stumble across a bad egg I won’t spend much of my energy on them. However for the ones who I can see the good in, I’m all for giving you a chance regardless of what your past choices were.
We are always supportive of someone who turns their life around in the health stakes- gives up smoking, quits sugar, loses a tonne of weight, stops drinking, exercises regularly. But people don’t seem to be as supportive when someone is working out how to be the best version of themselves when interacting with others.
Instead of hanging onto our old ideas of who people were, perhaps we need to be more willing to see what these people have become. Because honestly, weren’t we all jerks in high school?