season 6 winner Bianca del Rio

Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve, and Talent

First it was What Not to Wear then it was Queer Eye, now my latest uplifting guilty pleasure is RuPaul’s Drag Race on Netflix. I love the show not just for the amazing creativity and quick wit, but it never fails to show how we are the reason – and the solution – to most of our problems.

To win the competition, the contestant must have charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent. RuPaul believes so much in charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent that he even wrote a song about it. With the help of Merriam-Webster for definitions, let’s look into each one these terms in a slightly different order.


Nerve is often what his missing and holding back a contestant on the show – or us in life. Nerve is our fortitude and strength. Every time I have failed in life, this has been missing. When I don’t have the guts to really own who I am and what I have to offer, I fail or miss opportunities. I always thought I needed to be tougher and more egoistic to have nerve and success. What I am learning is that humility not willpower is the source of nerve.

I love that uniqueness is valued in the show. To win, there is not an ideal to match. It is not like school where there is a right answer with which to respond. What makes a contestant amazing is when they stop trying to emulate someone else or when they stop searching for perfection and instead embrace what makes them unique, distinctive, and amazingly different from others.

Following uniqueness is talent, and again it is not some preconceived definition of talent. It is a one-of-a-kind skill that person has. In the show, there are amazing dancers, lip sync performers, singers, comedians, and visual artists. The show does not proclaim one talent more important or better than another. The show encourages the performer to own and maximize their unique talent.

Charisma is “a special magnetic charm or appeal.” The word’s roots are in a favor or gift bestowed by the Holy Spirit. To me this is what happens to us when we have the nerve to embrace our uniqueness and talent.

In watching the show, I love to see two transformations which happen almost every season. First, is the contestant who is holding themselves back. They lack a belief in their abilities and stop trying before they begin. Once they can release their fear and embrace their strengths as well as their weaknesses, it is amazing to watch them blossom.

The other transformation is the overconfident, aggressive, or chip-on-their-shoulder contestant. Without fail, those who move forward in the competition finally learn that they are not going it alone. Even though this is a competition, the contestants need to work together, lead and follow. The winners are not filled with ego but humility.

As you go about your week, see where you are:

Holding yourself back – Are you shooting yourself in the foot? Why are you keeping yourself small? What would it take to believe in yourself?

Not embracing your uniqueness and talent – How is holding back your gifts hurting yourself and denying others? What could you bring to the world if you embraced what you are here to give?

Letting your ego run the show – Do you need to learn a little humility? Who do you depend on and who depends on you? Step outside of your desires to see how you can gift and join with others.

And remember, as RuPaul says, “If you can’t love yourself, how you gonna love somebody else? Can I get an amen?”

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