Frosted Cupcakes And New Clothes

This week’s theme is self image.

While my grandfather stayed with my family for the last month (he went back to my uncle’s place last weekend), I ate more health consciously than usual. I also walked with my mom and him every day, so I got the semblance of exercise. Over the month, I lost about five pounds. Even though five pounds may not be very much (it might not be statistically significant), I felt good when I stepped on the scale.

I spent last weekend in Irvine with my sister. On Saturday morning, I went with my sister to her boogie boxing class. Boogie boxing seems like a variation of cardio kickboxing. I haven’t done a rigorous workout like that in a long time, so the class was very intense. How exhausted and sweaty I was afterwards was a strong reminder of how out of shape I am.

That afternoon, my sister and I went to the Orange County (OC) Fair. Fairs are possibly the worst place to go if you’re trying to stay away from large portions and/or fried food. My sister and I split a mountain of chili cheese fries for dinner and funnel cake with soft serve ice cream on top for dessert. I was so disgusted by our meal that I fortunately declined eating chocolate covered bacon, deep fried Twinkies, deep fried Snickers, and deep fried butter.

The next day, my sister and I were deciding what fun activity to do together. We both have a sweet tooth, so we had the great idea to make cupcakes! We made red velvet and pumpkin spice cupcakes and topped them all with a super sweet cream cheese frosting. So good but so, so bad. Needless to say, I gained back the five pounds I had lost over the last month in just one weekend.

A couple days ago, I went to the mall with my high school friend with whom I recently reconnected (the one who got me addicted to Verbotene Liebe). This was the first time we had met since we graduated high school ten years ago, but it seemed like no time had passed.

I wasn’t planning on buying any clothes, but my friend insisted that I try on some shirts that I don’t normally wear. I’m generally a T-shirt and jeans guy. My T-shirts aren’t form-fitting, possibly from influence from my parents or from an old wardrobe with clothes from when I was heavier, but my friend saw my loose clothing as a sign of low self-esteem.

Possibly stemming from being heavier in the past and/or my lifelong confidence issues, I use clothes as a way to cover my body rather than to accentuate my shape. I’m definitely not fat (I have an average BMI), but I tend to obsess over the fatty areas I do have (especially after the crap I had over the weekend). At least, that’s what my friend thinks, and she’s probably right.

Anyway,  my friend kept stressing that I should think more highly of my looks. I ended up buying a few button down shirts (both short- and long-sleeved varieties) that I can wear with my current T-shirts as a way to add a little style and fit to my wardrobe. Her hope is that I will go to graduate school wearing my new clothes and attract cute preppy college boys. We’ll see.

I’m not entirely convinced that my new clothes are my style, but I do like them. I usually think “that would look good on someone else.” But who knows? Maybe a change in my perspective and they will look good on me too.

A New Offer

Now that I’ve been at my new job for about two months, I’m fairly proficient at my assigned tasks. I’m currently still an assistant, though. I micromanage our accounts and do the grunt work for a lot of what my friend/boss needs. Recently, my friend/boss sat me down and told me that he has high hopes for me. He feels that I can do more than what I am doing. So today, he sat me down again and gave me a new offer.

Instead of being a sales assistant, I would be an actual salesperson. I would not only manage certain accounts we already have, but I would also bring in new accounts. I would have to cold call and build relationships with new companies so that they will sell our products. As an incentive, my salary would be reduced to the same hourly wage as what I had at Target, but I would receive commission based on the sales that my accounts do over the month.

My friend/boss knows that I go to work early and leave late. Since I don’t get paid overtime, he knows that I don’t do it for the money; I do it because I have a good work ethic and I always want to finish what needs to be done. As such, my friend/boss wants to be fair to me. His new incentives offer isn’t necessarily just a way to put pressure on me (though it undoubtedly will), but it’s also a way for me to be rewarded for the work that I do. Theoretically, the extra work that I do will be shown directly in the sales I draw and thus in the commission I receive.

In the end, this offer isn’t about the money. It’s about being a great learning experience and an opportunity to grow personally. My friend/boss obviously sees how self-conscious and nervous I am, which is exactly why he thinks this salesperson job will be great for me to overcome my self image and self-confidence issues.

I’m incredibly terrified to take on such a role. I really don’t know if I have what it takes to be successful at sales. I called my sister, who has been in sales for much of her adult life. She hated the idea of sales at first (she doesn’t necessarily like it now either, but that’s another story), but the more she did it, the easier it became. She sees the value in this opportunity as well. She told me how much her confidence level changed after being in sales.

I told her that I was afraid I would make mistakes and fail, and she said that now is the time for that. Mistakes and failure is how we learn. Because I don’t have very many responsibilities or obligations (like a house, a car, a family to support), now is the best time for me to make mistakes and figure out what I want to do. If I wait until I have a lot of responsibilities, I’ll be stuck in a dead end job wondering how I got there.

The last piece of advice my sister gave me was that even if I decide I’m not ready to be a salesperson right now, I shouldn’t shy away from it forever. She really does think that it helped her open up a lot. I guess we have a lot more in common than I thought.

I haven’t made a final decision yet, but I think I already know what I’ll decide. I don’t think I can do it, but that’s exactly why I should.

Different Extremes

My friend/boss and I have similar backgrounds. We’re both Chinese, we both struggled with Christianity in high school, and we’re both gay. And yet, our personalities are completely different.

When faced with the same obstacles (mostly stemming from being gay), we reacted differently. He became outspoken, confident, and self-assured. Instead of letting people make him feel bad or guilty about being gay, he grew strong and stopped caring what other people thought. He went out, met boys, and lived life. His confidence helps him excel in business.

I, on the other hand, became reserved, insecure, and self-conscious. I let the guilt of being gay consume me. I always felt distant and inferior to other people. Normal people. Even now, at work, I feel inferior to both clients and coworkers. I’m afraid to make phone calls to clients. I always read over my emails multiple times to make sure I don’t sound like an idiot, and even then I’m sure I still come across as one.

It’s interesting how different we are. Being gay shaped who we are, but we went to different extremes. His extreme was probably the better one. After all, he is the boss.

Maybe It’s Time

At some point, I have to stop being scared of life. Stop being scared to take risks. Stop feeling sorry for myself.

My friend/boss is presenting me with opportunities to move up in the company, and I’m still reluctant to take on more responsibilities. But maybe it’s finally time to put my reservations aside and rise to the challenge, rather than always backing away.

How does someone change one’s self image? How does someone become more confident? All of the reasons why I’m resisting moving forward are in my head (I’m pretty sure).

Maybe it’s time to do something that’s good for me, despite myself.

Self Worth By Association

I’ve been feeling crappy again the last couple days. Part of the reason is that I had a lot of interaction at work with my work crush yesterday. I got paired up with him (actually, I requested to work with him) to zone a particular department. We got to take our breaks and lunch together.

At first, working with my crush was fun. It’s nice to talk to him and see him flash his smile. After a while, though, I remember that his mind is always on girls (he’s a total player). All I can ever hope to have from him is his friendship, and it’s hard to say whether that will last after I stop working at Target. But even if we are able to maintain contact after we stop working together, what kind of friendship will we have?

Ever since I was a kid, my self worth has been linked with the friendships I have. I feel better about myself if hot or popular people (the cool kids) are friends with me. Since I can’t be cool, hot, or popular in my own right, living vicariously through those who are is the next best thing.

If I’m associated with someone “important” (in other words, someone I have a crush on) then I feel important. If I’m not, then I feel worthless. I feel invisible, and the loneliness that has lingered with me for most of my life sets in again.

Yesterday, when it was just my work crush and me talking, I felt good. I was carefree and happy. But the instances when he was talking to one of his straight friends (with the straight guy banter only straight guys understand) or when he was on the phone with one of the many girls who is infatuated with him, I felt like a wallflower. I faded into the background, perhaps where I belong.

Who am I kidding? I’m friends (nominally) with my work crush, but I’ll never be good friends with him. He already has better work friends than me. At the moment, that realization makes me feel like crap. I’m sure these feelings will pass in time (they always do). I know my feelings are completely ridiculous and illogical; I’m not even sure this post makes any sense. One’s worth shouldn’t be based on the perceptions of others. Yet somehow I still feel this way.

Unemployable

One of my biggest fears is that I will never get a job. I keep thinking that even if I do pass my upcoming exam, I will still be unable to find a job. I don’t have enough experience at anything. I’m overqualified for non-professional jobs and not qualified enough for professional jobs. Even if I did have the qualifications, I feel like I’m going to mess up the interview.

I don’t see why employers would hire me over anyone else. What makes me so much better than the next guy off the street? I can’t offer anything special. There will always be someone more qualified than me.

These thoughts have been churning in my head all day. They’ve really been churning for many months now, but today they were almost overpowering. I felt incredibly frustrated (more than usual) whenever I got a question wrong during my studying.

I felt no motivation to work out, but I forced myself anyway. Usually I feel better after working out, but today I didn’t. I did a reduced workout, because I really wasn’t in the mood to work out today. I tried clearing my mind in the steam room, but I just couldn’t. Another creepy guy staring at me and showing himself off to me didn’t help either.

At least I’m going on my graduation trip in three days. It will be really nice to see my friends from graduate school again. I hope this trip will get my mind off of my (lack of a) future for a little while.

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