I’ve never been the kind of person with charisma, whose smile and very presence seems to shine outwards like a tiny sun to encompass everyone in a two-metre vicinity in their radiance.
Do you know the kind of person I’m speaking of? The kind who everyone secretly notices when they walk into the room, their every movement and word signaling who they are; there’s an almost atmospheric shift, as if even the air were parting to make room for them. People naturally flock and gather around them as if they were Jesus, reborn, come to deliver salvation to all those who speak to him, hanging onto their every single word like they were jewels, or delicate berries, to be savored and hoarded. In that moment, they are a God, they are Goddess, and even those who do not openly worship them makes an obeisance, deep in their hearts.
I’ve never been that kind of person, and, truth be told, it has always been a sore spot for me. People with social anxiety, or any type of personality which prefers to shrink rather than flaunt, often find charisma elusive. Charisma: it’s like the metaphorical equivalent of a stimulant, a pair of fingers always clicking, amping people up; they want to know you, hear you, be around you. I was never that person people wanted to be around – quite the opposite, actually: usually they didn’t hear my words, as they curled like wisps of smoke from my mouth, or disregarded and avoided me entirely.
I used to envy charismatic people, used to want to be them, so desperately it was like a physical ache in my gut. Of course, that was before I grew more comfortable in my own skin and with my own identity, but it is a wound I still carry. I tried to emulate them by employing my acting skills, pretending, in my head, that I was someone important, someone with secrets lurking behind her eyes and laughter on her lips. None of it worked the slightest. Only now do I realise that charisma simply cannot be faked – it is inborn, and you either have it, or you don’t.
Still, that did not stop me wanting. For many years, my envy actually fueled a crush, for we often both admire and envy in others what we do not possess ourselves, and I believed myself “in love” with a boy who emanated charisma from his every pore like sunlight. What I could not understand, for a long time, was why I felt so bitter and inadequate around him. Surely if I did love and admire this person, I would not feel this way in their presence?
That was when it hit home, all the self-esteem issues and self-hatred buried inside me, and I realised I was using this love as a way to hide my own pain. Whenever I was not true to myself, laughter bursting from my mouth like showers of candy or delighting in the latest gossip even though it bored me to tears, the thought of him popped into my mind, like a model I could mold myself to.
Those days, thankfully, are over. Never again will I pretend a happiness I do not feel, a personality a do not possess, a charisma that will never be mine. In doing so, the wrong people were attracted to me, anyway, people who I did not find interesting, who had nothing in common with me. Throughout it all, pride strung me along and kept me trying, but now, I know who I am is the way I should act.
This does not mean that the envy has left me entirely. Now and then, I do look upon charismatic people with a great deal of wistfulness, wondering what the secret ingredient is, and how lovely it would be to have people instantly devoted to you like that. But then I remind myself of my own shy and reserved charm, and the wonderful worlds that exist between the lobes of my ears and lurk behind my gentle eyes, and I blow them a kiss in my heart. For I will be me, and they will be they, and the world will be as it should be.