Many years ago, some friends played a getting-to-know-you parlor game; each of us describing each of us as an animal. Then we, individually, were to judge which description closely matched our view of ourselves. George called me “a circus bear,” saying, “Paul, you have an attractive and entertaining personality, but we need to be aware that if we come too close, you’ll swat us.”
Ever have a moment when you believed you had been seen clearly? When another’s word to you about you stirred an inner resonance, lit a spark of self-recognition? This, for me, was such a moment.
Long, I sought to be “a hail fellow well met.” Ever outwardly genial. It wasn’t an act. I wasn’t insincere. Still, my friendliness, in deeper part, was a mask for my insecurities; principally, my unhappiness with myself (my self).
A funny (not humorous, but ironic) thing about friendliness. It did attract others who sought to know more about me, which, in turn, triggered my fear of being unlikable. Thus, the closer one drew, the more I retreated; sometimes, not calmly or quietly.
It took a while for me learn how to be my authentically whole self (the good, the bad, the ugly). Transparently. Vulnerably. Truly.
About twenty years ago, I found this figurine in a curio shop. It has sat on my bookshelf ever since as a reminder of what I used to do, but need no longer be.
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