You are not always going to be right.

It's pretty obvious in academics: sometimes you get perfect scores on tests; a lot of the time you don't. You get a letter grade on papers, projects, even participation. It's easier to correct yourself and improve your performance when you have an evaluation to go off of.

It's a little bit more difficult in real life.

It's a lesson I've been struggling to learn for a few years now—particularly when it comes to my perceptions of others.

I've always thought I was pretty good at reading people; a lot of the time, I am. I've always been detail-oriented and super tuned into reading body language. But there are also times that I make mistakes—and I haven't often admitted that to myself. There have been plenty of occasions where I write people off after only a few negative interactions.

To put it simply, it is really difficult for me to let go of a first impression.

And I'm trying to check myself on that.

Recently, I've come back into contact with a few individuals that I knew from years ago—and it dawned on me one day that they're almost nothing like what I remembered them to be. I had been so hesitant to speak to them at first because of my outdated perceptions of them.

I've allowed old first impressions to take precedent over the now.

And that's really unfair.

There are a million and one reasons why a first impressions might be wrong: maybe they were having a bad day. Or week. Or month. Maybe they were simply immature.

People are supposed to grow and change and mature with age. Why should I hold onto those initial impressions? Why deny myself the chance to get to know the new and improved versions of the people from my past?

I wouldn't want someone else to assume I am the exact same 16 or 17 year old I was a few years ago because, realistically, a lot has happened since then. I've learned a lot about myself and about how I want to treat others.

What I'm trying to say is that I know I've made plenty of mistakes in the past and I'm going to make plenty more in the future. If I know that I am living and learning, why should I hold anyone else to a higher standard?

While I wouldn't go so far as to say first impressions don't matter, I would wager that they shouldn't be the only source you use to judge a person.

Think of it this way: if you used one website from 2012 as your only source for a research paper, you'd probably lose quite a few points. That doesn't mean the website sucked--it means you didn't put in enough effort to bolster the rest of your thesis.

Check yourself.