The X-factor. What is it? Who has it? Why do I want it?
Well, if you want to know, I’m happy to inform you, so do I! So I invite you to dive in and come explore this phenomenon with me.
Before I tell you how I made this life-altering discovery, you must first know a little bit about me. All my life I have received special attention in one way or another. Whether its the strictest teachers giving me just a tiny extension for no good reason, a girl on the street giving me a simple smile, or a teacher noticing only me do something even when half the class is doing it. I always thought that this was due to my intelligence, exciting background, way with words, storytelling ability, or just pure luck that I happened to run into the right people at the right times. However, this is indeed not the case. The reason for all of these occurrences in my life (and many more) is because I have a very high X-factor.
By now you are probably dying to know what this X-factor is precisely, and what it does. When I discovered this mystical X-factor, it was like someone had just told me the meaning of life. I cannot produce words accurate and powerful enough to explain this feeling. What’s funny is that this little analogy is something my dorm parent/math teacher came up with to calm me down for a moment and provide some reasoning. Having such a thirst for rational, I sometimes get frustrated when I don’t understand the ‘why’ part of something. Little did he know that I would latch onto this piece of advice for the rest of my life.
The month is October, we are at the library of my school. I was sitting across from my math teacher, (also like a father to me—he really did the term ‘dorm parent’ justice) and we were having a simple conversation over some work as we regularly did. I would do my homework, and he would grade papers. Sometimes, though, I ended up helping with the papers. Most kids were at sports. I was excused due to my role in the fall play. As per usual, I was stressed in this schooling environment since I was unhappy, not to mention that I was feeling a little dubious about just having asked my English teacher for recommendations to other schools. Through all the stress and fluster in my head, I managed to muster one, solid, direct thing to talk about with my math teacher, “Get this: Today in history, everybody was talking. And I just leaned over to ask someone a question about a book they were reading. And out of nowhere, the teacher yelled at me! Just me!”
“Your an idiot,” He responded quickly with a facepalm as he continued, “I always tell you not to do those things! Why don’t you ever listen? And—”
“Wait but, it wasn’t like that! I—“ I interrupted to be interrupted right back.
“This is ridiculous! How can I get through to you?”
“I don’t know, I just can never seem to win here,” I said solemnly.
“Oh my god, you aren’t getting this… okay, so think about it like this: You just have this–this–this X factor, Max. It makes people pay attention to you and have their eyes on you. I have a huge one, and you have a very big X-factor too—as to where someone like that girl has a very low X-factor, you wouldn’t even realize if she missed class.”
“Hmm” I moaned still processing most of it.
“Look, this X factor can be your biggest strength or your biggest weakness. Everything you do will be noticed, good or bad, it will have everybody’s attention. I had the same problem growing up,” He continued, “But for real, not many people have an X-factor, especially like you. Businessmen often have it, and so do other people in major professions where having eyes on you is helpful. You should try to learn to make use of it as I did. Well, I’m going to go play video games in the dorm now. Bye-bye,” He said as he walked away unevenly in his awkwardly weighted physique, as he always did.
That advice changed my life. It was like the stars truly had aligned, and someone had handed me a book with all the answers. Soon after, I would begin to feel capable of anything and start to critically think about the attention each one of my actions would draw. I knew if I did something wrong, everybody would be there watching. But, anything good at all felt like a victory so glorious that they could have written a Greek myth about it.
Now, to whom do I owe this looming discovery of self to? My 9th-grade math teacher: An engineer by education, but an all-around fantastic guy by disposition. Not only that, but I am honored to be able to call this man a friend. My views on the world are very objective, being a science person. To me, the idea that for some reason people look at me when there is someone even more talented standing right next to me, seemed unfair and arbitrary. But, this was a vital lesson that helped teach me the world isn’t so cookie cutter as I was led to believe.
As it turns out, that math teacher also had a pretty high ‘X-factor.’ I think that’s why we bonded so well. We were both drawn to each other, continuously challenging each other intellectually. He never took pity on me, not even for a second. He didn’t care about my difficult background, the cold I had last week, or any other external problems I might have been facing. He always pushed me to do more and to do better. He made me a better person. And for that, I owe him a great debt.
I feel like the term ‘X-factor’ is misleading when used in the context of ‘The X-factor, and product y.” See, I have clearly defined what the ‘X-Factor’ is. It is not something that changes though. Its the coefficient in front of it that changes. Product y on the other hand never stays in the same place for long. Well, product y is whatever you make of it to be using this new information. So you have to decide: Do you want to keep living the same way you are now? Or do you want to take the helm, be the captain of your own life, and unleash your inner X-Factor?
Perhaps you realized something about yourself from this article. Or maybe most of it flew over your head or didn’t feel relatable. If you still have any doubt, just remember this: Next time you are waiting on line and about 20 people pass in front of you in different directions, but you only look up and glance at one of them, you have just seen the X-factor working its magic.