While playing with friends or in the middle of a chore, my father would often pull me aside for a life learning moment. I always appreciated his wisdom and the very practical way he encouraged me to look at life more deeply. I remember vividly on one occasion while washing dishes, my dad said to me, "Terri which man would you choose: A guy with a Yugo or a guy with the Mercedes Benz?"
Yugo’s are little compact cars that are ugly and culturally unfavorable; in fact, auto experts consider Yugo’s, the worst car ever made in history! Mercedes Benz on the other hand is considered one of the best luxury brands money can buy. The name alone represents quality, style and class. I don’t even think I knew what a Yugo was, so with little to no hesitation I chose the guy with the Mercedes Benz. I could just see myself sitting in the passenger side of his beautiful car on a warm summer day with the windows down and the wind blowing gently through my hair.
My father interrupted my fantasy to reveal that the guy with the Mercedes Benz lived, worked, ate and slept in that car because of poor spending habits and bad decision making. While the guy in the Yugo was merely driving his house keepers car because he heard a weird noise when she was driving and being the nice guy he was, wanted to make sure she wasn’t having engine trouble.
It was conversations like these with my father when I learned the power of perception and judgement.
Though purely hypothetical, his scenario made me understand that what we see, is merely what we see. It was many years ago when my father posed that question to me; however, the message still rings true. With today's digitally induced society and social spaces like Facebook and Instagram, the scenario has evolved to include the number likes and followers you receive along with the type of car you drive. It is believed that the higher number of likes or followers acquired the higher level of validation.
I’m reminded of the age old saying, “Never judge a book by it’s cover." There were plenty of times in the past when I found myself vying for validation through material purchases and social media status. But as I matured, I discovered that a Mercedes Benz doesn’t come with love, patience, kindness, good manners or compassion. The likes, and followers on social platforms don’t provide comfort or give a listening ear if you’re having a tough day at work or a difficult challenge with life. While presentation does matter and first impressions are typically visual, the number of likes and followers someone has does not determine their intrinsic wealth and value but the content of one's character is what leaves a lasting impression.
Let’s be clear, there is absolutely nothing wrong with having nice things, but we have to look deeper before prejudging or counting someone out. It’s just that there is so much more to a person than the clothes they wear or the cars they drive. There is much more to a person than the selfie they took with over 12,000 likes. Premature judgements or misperceptions based on outward appearances will have you missing out on beautiful experiences and life long friendships.. So next time don’t just read the cover of someone’s book, take some time to turn the pages before you choose.