I’ve come to realise something recently. I’ve been living my life blissfully unaware of how my presence can affect others. And I’m not talking about being a negative person or the way that I treat others, but the way that others react to me. Now we all know that we are different versions of ourselves with different people, but that is not because we are two-faced or fake, it is because different people bring out different things in us. And in turn, you bring out different things in that person. It’s pretty cool actually.
I recall once in a junior high class I made female classmate, known for being “bitchy” and stone-faced, laugh. I had just said some funny remark in passing, and that joke somehow broke through her hard exterior. Had I intended to do that? No. But the effect was interesting. My best friend seat beside me marveled how she’d never seen that girl laugh before. I felt a sort of surprised joy at this. My friend had always hailed me as the funniest person she knows, so her observations of the situation were of the praising kind. I also felt a small pang of jealously from her because she was friends with the other girl and talked to her frequently in passing. It almost seemed that I had won some sort of race without even entering it.
Although I am not an extremely outgoing person, I find I don’t have a problem taking charge when put into group situations. This surprises me frequently because I am always reserved and quiet in public, but when I need to step up, I do. But strangely enough, if someone requires a volunteer for a magic trick, or someone needs to go first, I won’t do it. I don’t like the attention, everyone watching me. The only exception to this though, is if I am with someone else who is too scared to go first. It seems that their reluctance gives me the courage and the feeling of necessity to lead. This could have something to do with having a young sister and needing to go first to show her that, say, the dentist wasn’t that scary. My sister is soft-spoken too, and I find that this brings out the rambunctious side of me. I talk louder and more animated with her, which she regards with annoyance, always ordering me to not talk so loud.
Despite my aversion to being the center of attention, I’ve always regarded acting and dancing as things I’d want to do. Stepping out into the afternoon light after exiting a theater I would feel myself becoming a character, I’d adopt their mannerisms and speech for about an hour afterwards. I would look around me at the world, as if it were the set of a scene. The feeling of playing a character thrilled me. I would think to myself, I could do this, but not as a main character in a movie, maybe a guest star on a television series. Dancing also intrigued me. I could never see myself as a professional dancer, but just dancing around my house would make me feel so alive. And though dancing is an art, that doesn’t mean you have to be a master to dance. Classic dances like jives and tangos would fill my head and I wanted to learn them all. I would see dancers in my head as I imagined choreographing dances, but could never replicate the steps.
On the topic of emotions and expressing them, I seldom cross the line of tears or releasing anger. I rarely get worked up to the point of anger and refuse to cry in the company of another. But I will be the shoulder you can cry on or express your upset to. I make it a priority to make anyone being this raw in my presence to feel comfortable. Countless times I will sit and listen and understand. And as much I would like someone to be like that for me, I just couldn’t let myself get that way. I’m not sure why.
Basically, if you review your interactions, your thoughts, and how you react in certain situations, you will start to understand how your presence affects yourself and those around you. This is something that took me a long time to notice. But I’m glad I did. Because once you understand you can shape the world you are creating through steadier hands.