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(Re)Discovery 5: Things Are Seldom What They Seem

We usually see people and situations from the prism of our own notions, culture, expectations, experiences. But often they are simply not what they seem to us.

Today I would like to share a very simple story. A few years ago I was on a plane from Sofia to Frankfurt. Lost in thought, I didn’t really pay attention to anybody around me. However, I couldn’t help noticing that the man sitting next to me was tasting virtually all kinds of alcoholic beverages on board and was slowly getting drunk. My first thought and assumption was that he was perhaps flying for the first time and was so scared that he simply needed the drinks. My second assumption (based on the first one) was that his life might be very boring (after all, in my imagination he was flying for the first time and he was in his mid-thirties already). I couldn’t be more wrong. In our conversation I found out that he is… a pilot and air traffic controller in Kabul and was returning there after a short vacation. The few stories that he shared about his life in Kabul and the reality there left me speechless.

When we started approaching our destination, bad weather and air traffic issues prevented us from landing for some time. At a certain point, he stood up, went to the cockpit and provided some help to facilitate the landing. The person who I thought was flying for the first time suddenly helped land the plane safely!

I felt like an idiot with all my assumptions. And immediately threw them overboard… This story will always remind me that we should all do that more often.


About irinapashina

Marketing professional, blogger, group fitness instructor, reader, theater-goer


5 thoughts on “(Re)Discovery 5: Things Are Seldom What They Seem

  1. Well maybe he was getting a bit tipsy to have the courage to talk to you :)) Nice story. Reminds me of the movie “Flight” but thank God, you landed safely.

    Posted by Olivia Falkenstein | July 23, 2013, 6:10 am
    • Olivia,
      thanks for your comment. I love your sense of humor and how it makes you see things differently 🙂 By the way, I was so shocked by my wrong first impression that fear of not landing safely didn’t even cross my mind during the flight.

      Posted by irinapashina | July 27, 2013, 8:27 pm
  2. Couldn’t agree more with your conclusion! Unfortunately, it is very hard. First of all, you gotta be aware of the fact that your thoughts are merely based on assumptions and hence, pretty much useless. Secondly, you need to be willing to change. I believe there are as many people that aren’t aware as there are people who don’t care (nice rhyme 😀 ).
    Personally, I do face the very same problem. I tend to judge people very quickly (in both good and bad ways), based on stupid premises. In 90% of all cases, it turns out eventually, that I am wrong. Over our next lunch, I am going to tell you what the premises were when I judged you first ;).
    Interestingly, this often prevents me from connecting with people. There are one or two stupid thoughts that come to my mind, usually based on extremely superficial observations, and I then feel like I don’t want to get to know this person. I am in my 30s and I am aware of my behavior for quite some time. Still, I seem unable to change it. Wonder if it’s ever going to improve…

    That being said, as before, great topic and a very well-written article (I love the story!).

    Posted by sharpxs | July 27, 2013, 7:11 pm
    • Thanks for your comment, Lars ji!
      I agree that awareness is the first step. However, just like you, I am also struggling to get to the stage of openness where I wouldn’t assume how people are based on superficial impressions. My first impression is also usually wrong… and I can very well relate to how this often prevents me from connecting with people. Let’s discuss further over lunch and see if the discussion helps us find better ways to go about that. And I certainly look forward to hearing what your first impression of me was 😉

      Posted by irinapashina | July 27, 2013, 8:17 pm
      • Sounds great, Irina ji :), let’s do that! I have to say (mmh, I believe that’s at least the third time today that I’m using this phrase on your site:/), I am surprised to read that you’re facing the same issues yourself. I mean, you’re such an open-minded person. I just can’t believe that you’re judging people based on superficial impressions.

        Posted by sharpxs | July 27, 2013, 8:27 pm

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