There are some people who just have “it”.
It is hard to define what this “it” is, but you know it when you see it—or, more accurately, feel it.
The sound of their laughter makes you like them and want to talk to them, be seen with them, be part of their group, even if you don’t actually like them or want to be their friend.
Should they talk or compliment you, you find yourself smiling and feeling gloriously important and bathing in their precious attention—even if their compliment is insincere and you know it to be so.
In fact, they generally tend to be insincere in most areas of their life. They are insincere with their friends, who they select based on their status and popularity, and have the ability to spend hours around beautiful and important people they do not actually like. They will ignore you if you are not worthy of their attention, or suddenly act very charming and dazzling if they for some reason need something from you. When they talk, people swarm to them like bees to catch a drop of the honeyed words dripping from their lips. When they crack a joke, the whole world rocks with laughter.
Everything about them is somehow beguiling. The way they talk, the way they eat—when they eat something, that piece of food in their hands suddenly seems the most delicious edible created since the dawn of time—the way they walk, the way they check their phone or arrange their well-groomed locks. Even those who secretly profess to hate them turn into ingratiating, sycophant fools in their presence. People love them, and hate them, and the few discerning enough to find them beautiful on the outside and ugly on the inside are too overwhelmed and afraid to say a word.
They are invincible. What’s more, they are dangerous. Even behind their smiles, you sense a lurking predatory and tough creature. They will laugh at your joke, and the insincerity of their laughter will let you know what they really think of you. They know how to twist people around their pinky fingers. Should you be unlucky enough to get on their bad side, you will pay for it. They are competitive, and in the game called life they are here to get as much as they can for themselves. What they value above all else are wealth, power, beauty, praise, admiration, and it is their aim in life to accumulate as much as each of these as possible, to sit on a mountain of diamonds and hold a mirror before their faces and preen themselves.
They are the people who might publicly give to a charity to look good but ignore the disabled woman on the street who asks for the time because she is fat and ugly. They are the people who will publicly talk to you because it doesn’t look good to ignore people, then pretend you don’t exist should the two of you find yourselves alone. They are slippery, they are cunning, and they always win. To win, for them, is to breathe. Egotism breeds like a disease in their gut, and they love themselves a thousand times more than they will ever let on. Things like kindness, empathy, generosity—unless they serve some other aim, such as to bolster their public image, these virtues are nothing more than dandelion seeds, to be blown away in the wind. They have little empathy, because they have little imagination. They don’t care, because they are selfish. What lies behind the social mask is not emptiness, as some might think, but a frighteningly rational, self-serving and calculating human being.
The worst trait these people possess is their love for superiority. They love feeling superior—it gives them such a rush, to feel better than other people and to keep them “below” them. The more people they feel more beautiful than, more successful than, more wanted than, the better. They like envy, because if you are envious of them then it means they are doing something right. On the other hand, if you are better than them in any way, they will hate you for it, and subtly convey their hatred until you start to feel scared. In your presence, they will deliberately talk to other people and laugh and twirl their long beautiful hair just to make you feel bad about yourself. Whoever is the most powerful in a room is who they gravitate towards. They want to be on top, you see, they want to be kings and queens, they want to be a part of the in-crowd and they want you to know that they’re a part of the in-crowd and you aren’t, to toss back champagne and feel secure in their tight-knit coterie of the rich and the superficial and the good-looking.
I have a met a few such people, in my time. I spoke very little to them. Mostly I watched them, analysed their behaviour, their character. I told myself it was because I analysed everybody, that it was what writers did, but in truth, I did it because these people fascinated and frightened me. I found them incomprehensible, and there are very few kinds of people I find incomprehensible. I was attracted, in some way, to their cruelty and their power, afraid and attracted. They were everything I was not, had everything I did not, and though I would not have been them for the world, on some level, I was envious of them. I envied the way they had with people. I envied the love and admiration they received, even if wasn’t real. I envied their power, because as someone who is very introverted and sensitive, the very concept of power is alien to me. My only source of power is escape—into myself, into libraries, into rooms, into the imagination. Self-protection, instead of self-promotion. Like a lamb marveling at the lion, I gazed at these people in fear, hatred, awe.
I still don’t entirely understand them. When I looked into their eyes, I saw nothing. It wasn’t emptiness. They are very, very full human beings, very intelligent and rational, or otherwise they would not be able to manipulate people the way they do or achieve the success they do. But I couldn’t, and still can’t, get at the core of what motivates them. Pleasure for the sake of pleasure, beauty for the sake of beauty, status for the sake of status, power for the sake of power—these things are incomprehensible to me. Ultimately, more than anything else, I think they are creatures who live entirely in the moment, whereas I am forever extending my neck to peer into the future, and often getting slapped in the face in the process. Of all the thousands of different personalities in the world, I find them a mystery. They are psychopathic, and they are strange, but they are very successful, and the sensitive and the kind and the introverted would do well to keep away.