April Jeppson: It feels good to see the best in people

Published 8:45 pm Friday, April 7, 2023

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Every Little Thing by April Jeppson

They say a person can only pretend to be something they are not for three or four months. After that, they start to revert to their real selves. I have had the pleasure and displeasure of watching friends and co-workers go through this process.

April Jeppson

I go into all of my relationships with the same hopeful belief that all people are good. They wake up every morning and try their best to be, well, their best. It’s hard for me to process that there are humans who are just crummy. Even as a grown adult, I still find it difficult to believe.

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As a hopeful and trusting person, I believe what people tell me and show me about themselves. If I see that they are hardworking, I believe them to be hardworking. If they are polite and respectful, I believe that they are in fact polite and respectful. I understand that most people are on their best behavior when they are meeting co-workers for the first time. But there is a difference between quieting a burp and tricking people into thinking you are something you are not.

After that initial honeymoon phase is over, their true colors start to show, but I don’t see that. I try to be understanding and extend the same grace I would want others to show me.

I make excuses for them. I think, “Oh, maybe they are tired and that’s why they acted like that.” Or, “They must have had a bad morning, that would explain why they were rude.”

Because like I’ve previously said, I believe people are good and they are trying their best.

So somewhere between month six and 12, I become genuinely confused. This person who I know to be a good worker, simply isn’t a good worker anymore. Something must have happened. They used to be such a quality employee, but now it’s almost as if they are different person. Instead of finally coming to the realization that what I’m seeing is the real them, I’m still convinced that those first few months are who they are.

I will have other friends and co-workers try to point out what I can’t see. It’s obvious to them, but I’m still hopeful. I can’t get it through my thick skull that these people weren’t being honest with me in the beginning.

I’ve gone through almost this exact same situation multiple times in the last few years. It’s not until the individual hurts me personally that I wake up. It’s at that point when I realize that I have been nothing but honest and good to this person, while they deceived me. I even defended them when others would try to smear their name. A person who would act that way towards another human being, I have no choice but to realize that they weren’t who I thought they were all along.

It’s hard not to become jaded or bitter. But I’ve realized that the actions of these people have little if nothing to do with me and everything to do with them. I don’t need to take their actions personally, and I don’t need to harden my heart because of them.

I enjoy being happy. I enjoy getting to know people and trusting them. It feels good to see the best in people and believe that they are genuinely trying their best. I have become more aware though. Instead of tossing all those red flags aside, I watch their consistent actions. I watch and observe and stop making excuses for them. Good people are allowed to have bad days, but it’s still on them to own up to that and apologize. So if I’ve ever been less than awesome towards you, I’m sorry. Although I’ve learned not everyone wakes up and tries to be a good human, I promise you, I do.

Albert Lean April Jeppson is a wife, mom, coach and encourager of dreams. Her column appears every Saturday.