Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Alluring Personality of a Charismatic Friend.

I'm taking a break from writing about Europe today to pay homage to one of the best friends I've had over the last ten years.

Charisma is inherently possessed. It's true that people are either charismatic or not. Only a low percentage of people are genuinely charismatic. Say what you want about our president, but the guy has charisma. It's a trait that is present in nearly all great world leaders. It beckons us to follow them and hang on their every word. We are drawn to politicians,actors and rock stars because they possess personalities we admire. We also like to criticise them because it makes us feel better about ourselves to humanize their actions. We trivialize their conduct to validate our own. If not openly, subconsciously, we yearn for a charismatic personality.
Jesse was the most "popular" boy in high school, voted most likely to kick the world's ass. We grew up together, only five minutes from each other's childhood homes. During these years, I faltered in my own social awkwardness as I watched people gravitate towards him. I never quite understood. I could not hide feelings of envy and jealously. I constantly challenged and criticized him as a defense mechanism. I was threatened by his charm.

We started college together as young adults. Years had passed since we had met and I still harbored negative feelings towards him. His magnetism carried him and my disdain and resistance towards him weighed me down.  I was defiant, angry and unable to accept our differences. I needed to develop a rudimentary understand sociology and psychology before these feeling would ever dissipate.

There is a movie entitled "A River Runs Through It," with Brad Pitt and Craig Sheffer. Their characters are brothers. Brad Pitt's character is mischievous, erratic and rebellious while Craig Sheffer's character is conservative and reserved. Despite the academic accolades and successes achieved by Craig Sheffer's character, he lacked natural charisma. Brad Pitt had the more likable character despite his irrationality because of his captivating charismatic persona. Their relationship perfectly demonstrates how I've always characterized my relationship with Jesse. He will always be fun, spontaneous and carefree while I will always be self contained, neurotic and ultimately less liked.

Jesse was one of the last people to sign up for a Facebook account. After college he lost contact with a lot of people and had become somewhat of a enigma. Quite candidly, he did not need a Facebook account. The mystique of not knowing his next move was intriguing. When he finally caved and opened an account, he obtained hundreds of friends instantly. He had more Facebook friends in one month than I had accumulated over several years. Recently, Jesse posted an introspective comment as his status update. Tens of people commented on or approved of his words within minutes. I will spend an hour on a thoughtful blog and not get as much as a single read. Jesse's personality is truly  glamorous and alluring.
 As time passed, I finally gained an understanding of Jesse. I couldn't be prouder of where his life has taken him. It's liberating to not hold resentful feelings towards him. I will always wish I had the personality of a rock star. However, it would be counter-productive and problematic to hold ill-feelings towards a great friend for possessing personality traits I admire and respect.

1 comment:

  1. I never knew you did this, but I must tell you in the last 20 mins I have blown through some of these little blogs simply amazed myself in the person you have become! The way you articulate your thoughts and the openess you share about your interworkings... I should be working - but you sucked me in. I hope to get back to read more in the near future!