I have a friend who everyone loves.
She has a polarizing personality, but whether people worship the ground she walks on or hate her stinking guts, they remember her years and years after she’s left their lives forever. I know this because I regularly take very scientific polls on the matter.
Me, on the other hand? I’m so far from being memorable that sometimes I forget myself. Just yesterday my boss’ boss’ boss, a man who has assigned several different jobs to me specifically in the last two months, and who I consequently talk to at least twice a week, called me by the wrong name. We all make mistakes and I would have written it off except that it’s the second time in a month that he’s called me by that name in particular.
I’m not even completely sure my own family members remember me. I once caught them frantically pounding on a window to get the attention of a girl on the other side because they thought it was me. We didn’t even look alike except for our hair color and fabulous taste in eyewear. That was the day I discovered that I’m essentially brown hair and a pair of glasses to my immediate family. God forbid I get contacts — it would be like I’d disappeared before their very eyes. They’d slap my picture on a milk carton. Assuming they could even find a picture of me.
I don’t know what my memorable friend has that I don’t have. The biggest difference between us is that she’s exceptionally charismatic (like, accidentally-start-a-cult-and-then-realize-what-you’ve-done-and-shrug-sheepishly-and-everyone’s-ok-with-it charismatic) and I’m still waiting for my personal charms to show up. I’m expecting them any day now. But while charm is certainly appealing, it can’t be the whole story.
Characteristics I’ve Noticed in Memorable People
- They have obscene levels of charisma. You know it when you see it.
- They have some kind of physical distinction, like being eight feet tall or having a surprisingly small nose in proportion to the rest of their face.
- They are talkative, yet manage to say nothing at all. It’s like they’re the only ones who know about a secret word quota they must fulfill to ensure they stay in your brain.
- They are loud.
- They are really, really mean or suspiciously kind.
- They wear eye-catching accessories or dye their hair exciting colors.
- They look much better in lipstick than I do.
To be memorable, you only need one of these qualities. But it also seems to depend on the person, because none of these qualities can make someone who doesn’t have It, whatever It is, memorable. For example, I’ve forgotten many loud people with neon hair. No one like that comes to mind, anyway.
For qualities of the non-memorable, we go now to me.
Characteristics I’ve Noticed in Myself
- My hair color has been described many times as “mousey.”
- I am average height.
- I am within the average weight range for my average height.
- I have an average shoe size.
- I’m sort of quiet.
- I go crazy for Pumpkin Spice Lattes like everyone else.
- Even my bra size is average.
Maybe I don’t stand out in a crowd, but all I want is for people to remember my name if we’ve had a conversation before, and especially if I’m knee-deep in three projects they personally assigned me. Is that too much to ask?
The thing about not being remembered is that it makes you feel like you aren’t enough. Not smart enough, or witty enough, or likable enough, or pretty enough, or interesting enough. It’s like you didn’t bring your A-game to life. You brought your C average-game, and no one is impressed or even cares. You’re boring. It’s not a good feeling.
So when people forget me (and it happens a lot), I try to remember that there are things about me that stand out. I have quirks. I have preferences. I make probably too many puns, hate celery, and bake a mean pumpkin pie. Dammit, I am a person who exists and who matters.
On the other hand, this might be a superpower. Secret and vague government agencies are always using agents with forgettable faces for their most classified missions, according to my dear friend Television. I would be great at that.
So come recruit me, vague government agencies! I’ve already packed an anonymous suitcase full of my blandest clothing.
Everyone else, please forget I was ever here.
(You already had, hadn’t you?)