Je Ne Sais Quoi

I can’t think of a way to write this without coming across as arrogant so I’m just going to start at the end. I am really good at what I do and while there are many replicable aspects I can advise on and share, there is one thing that makes me stand out and it’s not something you can teach. Charisma can’t be learned.

I’m using the word charisma because it’s vague enough to suit my purposes but it’s not just that. It’s not just a magnetism, it’s also enthusiasm, curiosity, confidence, and oddly enough some humility. It’s a work ethic plus emotional literacy, plasticity and an impulse for constant improvement.

Have you ever walked away from a session with a total stunner but felt oddly unsatisfied? Couldn’t figure out why? There’s a secret something that makes you feel amazing without even quite knowing why and she didn’t have it. Charisma, the Je Ne Sais Quoi that makes a 7 into a 10 with bells on.

You kind of have to know what you’re looking for before you can name it. It has taken me nearly 30 years of socializing before I finally sorted it, and even now I’m surprised sometimes. Sol is the perfect example of someone surprising me with their charm. She is unashamed and up in whatever faces she needs to be. She takes no shit, only names, and while I have not yet observed her behave in a way I would describe as classically charming, she has me charmed. The respect and admiration I have for her brain, her mouth, her work, and her constant growth know no limits. She is a powerhouse and no one I know of has left her presence unimpressed. Whatever ‘it’ is that makes someone compelling, she’s got it.

Adelle, too, but in a different way. Her charisma has led her not to outward strength or business gain but to inner growth and a core of authenticity rarely seen in this world. She surrounds herself with beautiful, interesting people and isn’t afraid to order oysters when everyone else is having fries. It doesn’t even occur to her to be self conscious in the first place.

My partner has it, the restless drive to create and produce, the interest in and ability to reflect on oneself and grow in that reflection. My mother has it, in a methodical, quiet way, and my father, in the classic ‘charm the pants off everyone you meet’ kind of way.

So you see why I was so surprised to find out that it’s not nearly as common as I thought? To learn that constant curiosity AND the social self awareness to not be weird about it is actually AB-normal? I grew up around it and spend most of my life with people who have it in spades.

It’s taken me a long time to write this post because every time I come to it I can’t help but feel that I’m being terribly arrogant. When I was a young girl, maybe around twelve or so, I saw myself in the mirror. Not just a collection of features, eyes, nose, mouth, etc, but as a whole. I saw my own face as if it were a stranger’s, almost like an optical illusion that suddenly pops out, and I realized I was pretty. Attractive, in a not-very-interesting way, just pale and freckled and pretty. I didn’t feel pride in that fact, it just was, like being brown haired and five foot one. I mean, I was happy about it, but it wasn’t my fault. This? This is like that. Yes, I went to college and my parents gave me a sense of responsibility as far as following through on my commitments but my writing and my work and my innate magnetism are no more the result of my own effort than the freckles on my knees or the thickness of my hair. It just is and it’s weird and cool and now that I know what it is I’ve been looking all over for it and finding it in little ways (and some big) all over the city.

Because while it’s unusual to have quite as much of it all at once as Sol and Adelle and I have, it’s in very nearly everyone, to some degree. It’s in the dramatic boiling clouds over the sound as the sun sinks through them and the stupid, broken bicycles strew about the streets, it’s in a candle flame and a good book and a sexy hour with a fun chick.