Let me tell you a story. I am going to keep it fairly ambiguous, but in reality, it is very specific and truthful. This happened to me over the course of the past seven or eight months.
There was this girl I met about 10 months ago. I met her only briefly, but my first impression was….not great. She bugged me a lot. Thankfully, I thought, I would never have to spend time with her again. Then, an opportunity arose in my life and I took it, and I wound up spending about 20 hours a week with this girl. At first, I just didn’t care; there were other people there, so I just chose to interact with people who were not her. And that’s fine and all. Then one day, I decided that I probably should not be so brusque toward her and start being a little nicer. So I started making conversation and such. I would still get somewhat annoyed, but things started getting a lot better. I began to value her as a friend rather than just being bugged that I had to be with her at all. The time I spend with her in this situation has lessened as time has gone on, but I still spend a fair amount of time with her and there are times when just the two of us are together. I have come to love being with her and value her very highly as a friend. Sure, there are still things that rub me the wrong way and our personalities are not entirely compatible, but I have been able to learn a lot from this effort to befriend her.
In another example, there is another girl with whom I had never really interacted before I accepted that same opportunity. Once I began there, however, I was ridiculously intimidated by this girl. She was much more experienced than I, and her personality is abrasive to the extent that if you could be offended easily, you would likely be offended by her a lot. It takes a lot to offend me, but I was still intimidated by her. I was afraid to talk to her for fear that she wouldn’t like me. I guess you could say that I felt that she was much “cooler” than me and I wanted to be able to say I was on her level; to do that, I would have to make a good impression and not do anything which she might consider to be “dumb.” Eventually, though, I figured out that I had to get over myself and just try to be her friend. If she liked me, then awesome; if not, that’s her problem. It has worked out quite well. She and I are now fairly close friends.
My conclusion from these two experiences, in addition to many other experiences similar to these, is that we have to accept people as they are and extend our hand of friendship to them. Each individual is worth our time and effort. Oftentimes, we just have to go for it, be willing to subject yourself to something you may not particularly like, and learn from it. Things of this nature may not always turn out so well, but you just have to be willing to give everyone a chance. So, I ask you, will you give someone a chance today? Step past your biases and be their friend.