Telling some story of my recent parental visit, I was stopped in my tracks when my newish friend said "I haven't met them, but I get the impression that you have your father's personality." In many, many respects, newish friend is right on the money - that's not what took me aback. It was the very fact of his rightness - to have someone figure even a small detail out was disconcerting.
It's not the first time I've noticed that reaction. It's not that my friend is of the newish variety - I am disturbed by insights into my personality, etc. provided by strangers and by close friends.
It's the most human impulse in the world: the yearning to be known and understood, to be appreciated for who you are. And yet, allowing that kind of contact and knowledge leaves you vulnerable. And that's how I feel at those moments: like I am exposing my soft underbelly.
I don't think it is that I don't want to be understood - in fact, I know that isn't true. If I could have things perfectly my way (ha!), friends (and only friends) would slide their observations in obliquely - a thin layer of butter in the croissant dough that allows it to rise and crisp.
To quote the indomitable G.I. Joe, "knowing is half the battle." Now that I see it and have named it (and blogged it), maybe I can move away from experiencing it quite so viscerally. I would hope that in the future, I'll be able to acknowledge what I'm feeling right away and remember that it's okay to be known, that - inevitably - it's a two-way street.