Wednesday, April 04, 2012

On First Impressions and Individuality

Hi, my name is Jaggy, and I'm...

I don't know how to finish that sentence.  I don't have a good label to slap on myself.  There are lots of things that I am, and, of course, tons of things I'm definitely not.  Which of those words, though, do I hand-pick as one to describe me?

I've been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be an individual and how we represent our individuality to the rest of the world.  Yes, this is the fodder upon which my mind chews late in the evenings.  I wonder what strangers think when they see me, when they speak with me in those few critical moments that generate a first impression.  Who am I to other people?  How do I convey me through my less than stellar social skills?

Looking for objectivity, I had to consider all of this about someone else.  My husband was a logical step, seeing that I know him pretty well.  I remember our first few encounters and the impressions of him I had (which differ vastly from my current view, I might add).  The Man is the kind of person that, when you first meet him, you're swallowed by his presence.  I'm not saying he's large or overbearing or intimidating, not in the slightest!  But when you talk with him, he's completely present, completely there.  He's like that as a dancer, too, even from the very first dance with him.  He is a giving partner, a gentle but firm lead, and isn't trying to be ahead of anyone or thinking about the next dance or anticipating five steps out.  He is present and has a presence about him.  My aunts and grandma joke that he gives the best hugs, but they're completely right.  He gives great hugs because he's there in every hug, all of him.  It's so much a part of him, this presence, that it shows clearly in a first impression.

I considered what first impressions other friends and family members gave me.  I was too young to have a real "first impression" of most of my family, but I can see them through my husband's eyes.  The Man and I discussed it over dinner one night, those few words we would use to describe our loved ones.  My father came up early, and we struggled between "gracious" and "bashful."  Dad isn't gracious in a regal sense, but more gentlemanly without being overly curtious.  He isn't bashful like little boys are bashful, but it's a humble self-consciousness bubbling out.  Dad isn't the "man's man" type or the opposite or any particular type really: he's completely an individual, and you see that about him right from the start.

I don't know what first impression I give people of me.  Quiet, maybe.  Thoughtful, probably.  But in those first few moments do they see musical or crafty or faithful or geeky?  Can someone possibly see my hunger for knowledge or dry humor or knack for puns?

What makes me an individual?

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