Thursday, January 20, 2011


I underestimated charm. Before I went to Singapore for college, I totally underestimated the power of charm. I hadn't really met a whole lot of "charming" people - I'd grown up in a small, closed community, and no one ever needed or wanted to charm someone else. I remember the first "charming" guy that my friends and I met when we were about 16. He was so different from the rest of us. He would effortlessly flirt, cast his beaming smile everywhere, flick his hair about. The word universally applied to him was charming. And I remember that we regarded the fact that he was charming as slightly scandalous.

Then, in Singapore, I met more charming people. Flirtatious, smooth talking guys; bubbly, smiling girls. They got along with everyone. When I ran into one of them at the library, the conversation would encompass everything from current classes to upcoming parties, possible internships and future plans. I formed a stereotype of a "charming" person in my head: flirtatious, smooth-talking, but mostly importantly, fake. The interest they show in our conversations, in what I said, it all seemed so fake.

Then I met another type of charming. A genuine, occasionally rude, always funny, easy to talk to, interesting guy who is now one of my best friends. He didn't carry on conversations he wasn't interested in, but he got along with everyone, could talk to anyone, and was always fun to be around. The stereotype in my head was contradicted and abandoned. There's more than just one type of charming, I decided.

But still, I underestimated the power and importance of that charm. Until I came to Florida for one semester abroad. And last night, while having dinner with a massive group of people, the power of charm hit me. I'm not very good at social situations with people I don't know, so I was sticking to my table with a couple of friends, and just observing the other students there. And charming people are just so good at socialising! Witty comments, funny jokes and a slow smile will get you really far with people! The girl sitting across the table from me has been in Florida as long as I have, but she's friends with at least double the number of people I know here. A guy with a nice smile and very funny jokes was constantly surrounded by people, all laughing and talking. A group of people next to me randomly planned a post-dinner party and invited people, all of whom said yes.

In general, I prefer to hang out with a small group of friends. But the point of this semester abroad was to meet more people, learn to make new friends and party. None of which are made easier by my social awkwardness, physical clumsiness and lack of ideas for good conversation or funny jokes. Once in a while, it would nice to be able to be charming, even if I choose not to exercise that ability all the time.

I spent the dinner forming this blog post out in my head. By the end of two hours, I was exhausted. My cheeks hurt with all the smiling, I was tired of talking and hugging and asking people what they were studying, and I was ready to go home, get under my blanket and type this blog post out. I left, but the charming people stayed and probably went on to their impromptu party.


Vaishnavi Nair said...

I relate to every word.

But Medha, you were one of the first I met in SG, and I remember my thoughts going, "wow, she seems real." You get that impression across you know? No nonsense, dependable, straight-forward, fun, trustworthy. People immediately like, respect you in their heads. Just so you know.

I agree, charm can be daunting. It took me quite a while to know that its okay, I don't have to be the funniest. Just being myself, is in some convoluted sense, charming. By that definition, you're one of the best I know. :)

Have fun in Florida! Lets catch up online sometime?

Anonymous said...

I agree with Vaishnavi, Sumedha. You come across as genuine and interesting. And I wish you'd written more on charm - there are two or three kinds of charm that most people are aware of, whether or not they respond to it, but there are others too - odder and more interesting to hear about even though fewer people respond to it; it'd be nice to have an extended essay on them.

Who was that guy, by the way?

Somebody Who Knew You When You Were 16