There are some people who just manage to pique our attention somehow.
And it’s not because they’re the smartest or most controversial person in the room. In fact, they might even seem unassuming until you get to know them.
The crazy part is that most of the time, they don’t even know they’re interesting.
If you ever wondered whether you’re legitimately interesting, here are 10 traits to look out for.
1) They refuse to be put in a box
People like to make assumptions about what people should be like based on things like their gender, age, race, or even what they do for a living.
For example, people generally believe that men are violent and crude, while women are gentle and nurturing.
Genuinely interesting people ignore all of these.
Why should they let others’ expectations dictate who they are as a person, after all?
They’re the men who are meek and nurturing, the women who’d make a sailor blush, and the self-made millionaires who wake up at 12 noon.
2) They’ve kept their childlike curiosity
We’re all naturally born curious, with some more so than others. This natural curiosity is often quite endearing, though some people do find it annoying.
That curiosity is slowly beaten out of us as we grow older, unfortunately.
What sets genuinely interesting people apart is that they hold on to this curiosity until they’re 93.
They aren’t afraid to ask questions— even about things others have simply taken for granted.
If something doesn’t make sense to them, they’ll try to make it make sense.
This also means that most of them end up quite scientifically-minded and nerdy, and often end up ranting about their interests for hours on end.
3) They march to the beat of their own drum
Not only do they resent being shoved into a box, they will actually go out and carve their own path.
If they would rather not work a 9-7 job, then they’ll go out and find a different way to earn a living. If they aren’t content with the people they meet in person, they’ll try to find friends elsewhere like in online groups.
They might even come up with their own sense of fashion (and make their own clothes) if they feel like it.
What matters to them is that they’re making for themselves a life that’s authentic to who they are as a person. After all, there’s nothing wrong about it as long as they’re not harming anyone else in doing so.
4) They’re introspective
People who are legitimately interesting don’t just settle for being “curious”—they go beyond and will often think and introspect.
They often space out on the bus, thinking about their thoughts, their beliefs, and the way they understand the world.
They know that while the world around them is vast and filled with interesting things, their inner world is equally deep and grand.
They’d regularly ask themselves questions like “What is happiness?” or “What can make life worth living?”.
Because of this, they have an insight that’s unique to them. But of course it would be unique—it’s there because they think for themselves.
5) They’re opinionated
They’re not content with simply being mild and inoffensive in ignorance. They’re interested in what’s happening in the world around them.
They read about the past to understand how things used to be, and read about the present to keep themselves informed about current events.
They aren’t afraid to dive into political topics, or to understand what’s happening on the other side of the world.
It’s only to be expected that they will have opinions about things, especially those that they’re most passionate about.
And of course, they’d speak up. It’s just inevitable if someone has gained some knowledge.
They can be controversial or argumentative, not for the mere sake of being controversial, but because they’re truly passionate about learning and exchanging ideas.
6) They have many hobbies and interests
Interesting people are passionate, even if they might seem quiet enough that they don’t look like it from a distance.
Ask them what they’re up to, however, and their eyes would light up and you’ll find yourself listening to them blab on and on about their latest obsessions.
And it’s not just that they have one interest they’re particularly passionate about. No—they’ll have so many you likely won’t hear the end of it.
They might have been into samba a month ago, but now they’re into paleontology. Next month they’ll probably be into fishing, and then linguistics in the month after that.
They might seem like they’re simply fickle folk who can’t settle for one hobby. But that’s not the case—as unbelievable as it may sound, they genuinely do love the things they’re talking about.
7) They don’t blindly like what everyone else likes
It’s easy to draw a line here between people who are genuinely interesting and those who simply pretend to be.
People who are pretending to be interesting will dislike whatever it is that everyone likes at the moment. They enjoy coming up with reasons why the latest thing is bad, cringe, or overrated.
People who are genuinely interesting, however, won’t blindly like or dislike something simply because everyone else likes it.
Instead they will simply take a look at it and see if it’s to their tastes or not, and if they like it then that’s that.
And when they do end up disliking something, they’ll just leave it alone and move on to things they actually enjoy. As far as they’re concerned, life’s too short to waste on hate.
8) They try to consume things critically
We are inclined to trust or believe something just because it was said by someone we liked. Or to disregard something just because it was said by someone we hate.
It’s almost a natural compulsion, and naturally interesting people are aware of this.
Because of that, they trained themselves to always be critical regardless of who said it or how it made them feel.
They aren’t afraid to criticize the stories they love, to acknowledge that someone they respect had made mistakes, or consider that the news they heard is biased.
And if someone they hate does something good? They would give them credit for it.
Most simply consume media uncritically, however. But that’s all the more reason why critical people are so interesting.
9) They aren’t scared to question the norms
What genuinely interesting people do is that they question everything. There are no sacred cows in their world for them.
If a ritual or social norm makes no sense to them, they will ask why they even have to follow it in the first place and will often refuse to abide by it until they’re satisfied.
For example, there’s sometimes this social game of chicken where you’re supposed to say “no” when someone offers you something or else you’ll come off as rude.
There’s also this expectation that you need to smile and make small talk with your coworkers, for example, even when you’d rather be doing something else.
Questioning these norms often makes them outcasts, but they frankly don’t mind.
10) They step out of their comfort zone often
If someone offers them food they’re not used to eating—like, say, durian, hákarl, or surstromming—they’ll give it a try.
If they’re uncomfortable with heights, they might challenge themselves by going rock climbing or skydiving.
And if they’re insecure about joining a scrabble tournament… they’ll try to join anyway.
They don’t simply stick with whatever’s comfortable for them. They let themselves experience new things, even if it comes with embarrassing risks like losing horribly in a publicly broadcast tourney.
At the very least, at the end of the day, they’ll have shot their shot and it’s one more experience they can talk about.
And because of this, they never run out of interesting things to talk about.
The “average” person is far more interesting than one might think at first glance.
It’s just that many of us end up being bland because we try to hide the things that make us unique—the quirks we have, the failures we face, and the opinions we hold.
In the end, the secret to being a legitimately interesting person is in living a life as genuine to yourself as you can, all the while challenging your own fears and insecurities.
And unfortunately, very few people can muster the strength to be like this, and that’s why people who are genuinely interesting are few and far between.
If you can relate to most of the traits mentioned in this article, then congrats! You’re one interesting person—no doubt about it.
You should be proud of yourself.