This headline implies that I am nauseatingly conceited, but this is really just advice people have told me over the years that I witness to be true in others. I suspect that were I to follow it, I too would be the star of every show. Common sense? Sure. Still, it never hurts to have a reminder.
1. Own your imperfections
This is the era of a-dork-able. People liked Jennifer Lawrence for being real-girl rad in Silver Linings Playbook, but they LOVED her when she tripped at the Oscars. Of course, she played it off swimmingly, but the bottom line is that we’re all loserish 8th graders inside and its reassuring when others are openly the same. Really, in what other decade could such people as Seth Rogan be cast as romantic leads? Seth Rogan is more or less an It Guy…if ever there was a time for the lame and uncouth to shine, this is your moment. SEIZE IT!
2. Keep calm and carry on
…when you F up. You know how much other people care when you spill coffee on your shirt? Exactly how much you care. There’s something truly powerful about someone who can dribble latte on the crotch of his pants and carry on as though nothing else happened.
3. Don’t be afraid to make enemies
…respectfully. Paul Newman once said “A man with no enemies is a man with no character.” This obviously sounds counterintuitive to being likeable, but people who can stand up for themselves in an assertive, reasonable and respectful way accumulate genuine fans. Disagreement is A-OK. Otherwise, you just look like a desperate-to-please Gretchen Weiners and that is not a good look for anyone.
4. Be consistent
It’s a weird but undeniable truth that people like consistency—in brands, in celebrities, in people. It’s one thing if say, you were closeted and now you’re coming out (awesome!) or shy and now the life of the party (even more awesome!) but people who do a 180 on their identities, going all punk rock one day and Ralph Lauren the next, inspire reputations as insincere. Hence, “poser.” I honestly don’t think Miley Cyrus would’ve gotten such a catastrophically hateful response if she hadn’t once been Hannah Montana. (Hateful, sure, but not the Twitter-tsunami that occurred). Of course, if you’re really feeling a personal sea change and just genuinely want to be like, You: Version 2.0, then by all means do it. Sometimes, it’s not even worth caring what the naysayers say. You do you and see (2). Just mean it when you do it, because people will be suspicious and it best be worth the effort.
5. Play the cards you’re dealt
So maybe you feel like you’re just not “class clown” material and never will be. That’s okay! You could be that person that slowly forms friendships by quietly conversing with the people who sit next to you every day.
6. Don’t be “too cool” for anyone
I know this is “duh” but…seriously. Never has the weirdest person you know been more likely to come out on top (see #1). You never want to run into him at 35 and know that he’s smirking to himself about how cool he’s become and how little of his newfound VIP passes and complimentary pillow-chocolates he’ll be sharing with you.
7. Find common ground
There are lots of situations where it’s very hard to find common ground. Everyone’s been there—you’re dragged to some party for your friend’s new boyfriend and five minutes in someone’s chatting cheerfully about how they don’t believe in global warming and you just know it’s going to be a verrry long night. But should you bring yourself to look past the string of little red flags erecting itself between you and your new friends, you will surely find something to bond about. The best way to figure this out is to ask questions. Nothing is more awful than being new to a group and no one asks you a single thing about yourself. Rather than cry about it, though, become the person you wish was talking to you! Ask everyone around you what their favorite drinks are. Still can’t think of anything? Skip to 8.
8. Remember childhood
Before such divisive adult complexities as class, religion, political affiliations…there was candy, and kickball, and Saturday morning cartoons. So this woman in front of you un-ironically loves Robin Thicke. It’s tough, I know, but there still has to be something from your pasts that you share. Did she watch Price Is Right at her grandma’s? Did she also take her Oreos apart before eating? Is her favorite Brad Pitt also the long-haired stallion in Legends of the Fall?
9. Like them
This is both the hardest and easiest part, because it has to be sincere and people can always tell when you’re faking. But if you can find it in yourself to like others for who they are—even when they don’t deserve it—they will very likely return the sentiment. In the wise words of Mary Kay Ash, “Everyone has an invisible sign hanging from their neck saying, ‘Make me feel important.’ Never forget this message when working with people.” In other words, it’s not you, it’s them.