New Insights

This weekend, I had planned to attend the mentoring program and help out my alma matter. I was also going to meet up with a friend before the program and a student after the program. My mentor from the firm – or I’m not sure if I can call him that anymore – also had tickets to this showing and wanted to hang out. I was also going to check out a new church today.

However, all my plans flew straight out the window when I got a giant blister under my lip. I don’t freak out about a white head or two but this was a huge blister that looked suspiciously more like a boil. In fact, I was sure it was a boil and my suspicions were confirmed by a doctor later. That was on the FIRST day of work.

On the second day of work, I woke up with an itching on my knee and stupidly scratched it before climbing out of bed and getting ready to go to the office. Throughout the day, it got hotter and itchier until it became full-blown cellulitis. That was the SECOND day of work. And on a Friday no less.

So Saturday. I spent Saturday going to the doctor, getting my antibiotics. My knee was on fire and was hot to touch. Instead of going out, I ended up staying in and relaxing. But through this weekend, even though I did not go out and my plans ended up being reversed, I can say that God has done a lot. I can see why God did it.

It’s opened a door for new insights.

One is that God is going to allow me to be sick sometimes and to hurt. He’s going to allow me to go through difficult experiences. When my faith was less developed, it was easy to think that God was going to give me a life filled with paved ivory paths. In the end though, I know it is not going to be a primrose road.

I was listening to Heather Lindsey’s message when she mentioned how she ended up having a miscarriage. She thought she was pregnant but it was just an empty sac. In her words, she went through all the difficulties of pregnancy but ended up with no child.

I felt discouraged and annoyed at first that I got staph infections literally the day I started work. However, I realized that God lets these things happen for a reason. And that while I’m on this earth, there will be sickness and death. It will touch me. Because I’m not in my own bubble anymore. God wants me to be able to relate to others.

 

Having a staph blister under my lip also helped me to learn how to listen. On day one, I was very talkative and excited to meet new people. I didn’t ask them about their stories as much as I talked about mine. I realized this on day two when it was hard to talk and I could not even really smile because the blister was painful and getting bigger. When I learned to listen, I found that

a.) I had more social energy and didn’t feel exhausted by the end of the day

b.) I was calmer

c.) I felt better about each interactions

For instance, I got to know a friend on a deeper level when instead of talking about myself, I got to ask about his heritage and his background.

 

I also realized something enormous this weekend. I realized that it’s not about me anymore. Whether I am working as a janitor, as an auditor, or as a business executive, the story will ALWAYS be about God. And that in itself gives so much freedom. It truly is not about Ophelia. It is not about me. It is about Him.

When we think that the story is about us, there’s the pressure to perform, to be the best and there’s the tendency to compare, to be jealous, and to envy.

Today, laying in bed with a pulsing knee, I realized that it is about God. It’s about Him. My whole life and my story revolves around doing what He has called me to do. Someday, I will be with Him and there will be no more staph and no more pain or hard bosses. Until then, God has promised to be with me through each trial and guide me through.

 

Finally, I also saw the senior and the manager I worked with last summer at a panel on my first day. They weren’t people I got along with. It was a personality disconnect. I don’t know what happened honestly. I did try my best though :/.

The senior said something that made me sit up. She said, “Don’t come in with a chip on your shoulder just because you won some case study. Be humble.”

It made me pause for a moment because I had something along the lines of winning a case study last summer. However, at least it was a good reminder to be humble (: .

I’m just going to do my best to follow God and fulfill what He has for me to do at the firm.

He showed me one way to have charisma just by being His representative. And that’s to realize that everyone , every single person, is in his or her own way looking for God. They might not say it but what do virtually all human beings desire? Fulfillment. Joy. And above all, happiness.

The only way people can find happiness, the Christian belief goes, is to be with God.

That’s an eye opening revelation that has touched me very strongly this weekend. It helps me realize that people are people. It helps me know how to have mercy.

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Weerrrkkkk

I started work on Thursday!

Thursday was orientation. I got to see a lot of familiar faces and friends I made during my internship. My fear was that it would be hard to make new friends but I actually made a lot of new friends. After orientation, we sat outside and had coffee and talked about our internships and what we were hoping to accomplish during our time at the firm.

I think one promise I made to myself in terms of starting is to be as authentic as possible. Even if it costs me my performance review, I must be authentic and I need to be myself. No more stifling. And I think the best way to be charismatic is to strive to be the best representative of Jesus that I can be.

It’s also like what Heather Lindsey said – God put me on this earth for a unique purpose and if I’m not myself, I won’t be able to fulfill it.

When I went home on Thursday though, I realized that I probably had yet another staph infection on my face… right under my lip, too. Probably the second worst timing ever.

Friday though was pretty great as well. I ended up getting an infection on my knee as well but I still got myself to work. I didn’t drive because I wasn’t feeling well, I could barely walk, so I took an uber. Taking an uber was a fantastic experience. The driver was a cool guy and I got to sip my water coolly and look out the window and not have to worry about anything. It was the bomb.

I am really grateful to God for alleviating my fears about making friends. I like the people in my start class – even though I haven’t met many of them (since the LA office is so big, we have three different start dates compared to other offices). Even though getting a staph infection as well as cellulitis on my knee isn’t fun, I trust that He has a reason. I really do.

I had to cancel my entire weekend though. I had two meetings today along with the mentoring program. I also wanted to catch up with a friend from my firm at an event tonight. But sadly, my leg is on fire.

The person from my firm is someone that I called my mentor. I mean, he’s a good person but he can be really sarcastic. Alas, he is a senior and he was my interview buddy during my second interview with the firm. I try to keep in touch with him. I texted him yesterday and he said he had an extra ticket to Cinespia, and I would’ve loved to go but I had to be like, “yeah, well :/ I have a staph infection so I can’t :/”

He was like “aight.”

The thing is though that people can smell desperation. In terms of networking, I want to approach it so that it can be a mutually beneficial thing. Even if I am finding a mentor who’s years ahead of me, I can pay that mentor back by working the hardest I can for them and by paying it forward too. And if I have a mentor who doesn’t share the same affinity for giving back, then maybe I would be better off without that mentor.

So I’m on my way to the doctor now to get my staph infection checked out.

Some Thoughts

Went to the Getty Center with my dad and my close friend today. I spend Sundays with my dad so I thought it would be nice to ask him to come along and walk with us.

My close friend and I caught up on everything that’s been going on in our lives. I had a really fun time speaking with her and sharing about how I’ve been doing. I’m really proud of the progress she’s made in her professional and personal journey.

Yesterday, I helped out at the mentoring program for the accounting club I was involved in. It was a wonderful experience being able to meet a lot of driven and talented students and help them. I can still remember the nervousness I felt when I was recruiting for the very first time. I remember the circles of people and being on the outside and trying to awkwardly make eye contact. I remember how people would treat me like I wasn’t worth getting to know just because I wasn’t a board member or had an offer. I think they saw me as competition too and that scared them.

So that’s why I always return to events like these to help people out. I see myself in every driven accounting student.

When I was recruiting, there were amazing and really wonderful people who helped me. Granted, I took the initiative. Everything I had, I asked for. Every coffee meeting, every resume review, I put my best foot forward to get an offer. It was during this time that I realized what kind of a mentor I wanted to have – and what kind of a mentor I wanted to be.

Someone who really cares. Someone who really listens. Someone who’s able to give it to you straight and make herself available as a resource without making it feel like you are bothering her.

Who knows what God has planned for me in the future. Especially at the firm or in accounting itself. I don’t live my life according to anyone else’s template or mold other than God’s. But I know one thing: wherever I am years from now, it’ll be about helping others and being the mentor and the friend that I wanted to have.

One thing I am worried about in returning back to the firm is making friends. It’s kinda weird because I usually don’t have trouble making friends. I’m a people-person and I love to really get to know people and what their stories are. During my internship, I didn’t attend many socials out of laziness and so I didn’t make as many connections with other students as I wanted to. Anyway, this time I’m going to try harder and pray about making new friends and connections in the firm.

Losing elections was also fresh on my mind during my internship. I felt insecure about everything and competitive about everything too. So it was hard to relate to people and sometimes I just didn’t care.

After the mentoring program ended, I spoke to someone that I had gone on a date with about two years ago. It was really awkward. I was speaking with a mutual acquaintance when he came up and joined the conversation. That was the first time we had spoken since the awful date happened.

I realized that I still had some lingering feelings for him. Two years ago, I didn’t know what I was or what I wanted. I was still growing into my identity. I did a lot of stupid things during that semester, like asking the vice president of the club if he wanted to kiss me (:*), getting involved in politics and getting my hands dirty, and etc and etc. The date was the single most stupid thing I had ever done.

Lingering feelings or not, I have my heart set on someone else now. And that’s God. Plus, I don’t feel that this person really respected me. He caught me at a really, really weak moment. I think it’s great he continues to give back and mentor others – as long as he keeps his distance, WE COOL!!

 

Omg !

That moment when you put on a dress that you haven’t worn since your summer internship and realized that it barely fits now…

I’m starting work on Thursday!

I was trying on my clothes when I realized that I really have gained weight. And the reason why I’ve gained weight is because I’ve been struggling with health issues these past six to eight months. Whether it was TMJ or random dental pain or skin infections, it was always something day after day. And so I started exercising less.

There was a time when I was actually on a liquid diet because it hurt to chew.

In the end though, I didn’t get any dental work done because most of the dentists couldn’t find anything wrong with me. They said that it was most likely a grinding issue.

I am okay with gaining weight actually. Because my relationship with God is closer than it has been for a very long time. I’m certain that if I have Him by my side for the future, I can accomplish more than I ever imagined as He uses me.

A long time ago, I was listening to a sermon by Heather Lindsey and she said that God has a unique purpose for each of us. A purpose that if we don’t fulfill, the world is worse off without.

In the same way, I’m going to do my best to be an authentic, kind person and let God use me.

It’s going to be weird going from a flexible, easy schedule (I was just freelance writing and helping out at my parent’s store during my break) to working 60 hours a week. God is with me though and I know that it’s a matter of putting in my time.

These nine months were pretty invaluable to me. I learned a lot about my relationship with God and my identity in light of Him.

So gaining weight or not, I’m happy where I am. And I’m happy with wherever He wants to take me.

I am going to exercise more though -__- and stay away from the pizza.

The Bible and People Who Manipulate It

I stumbled upon this article by Paul Oestreicher, an Anglican priest who claims that Jesus was “probably gay”. Although I haven’t attended seminary school, I like many know how to approach articles critically.

As someone who grew up with a best friend/relative who is LGBT, I think that the church needs to change its approach on how it deals with LGBT individuals. It needs to be about love and communication –  not condemnation.

However, it’s quite different when someone – especially a priest- maligns the word of God for political purposes. Based on everything I’ve read in this article, that’s clearly evident in all of Oestreicher’s points.

His first argument is based upon Jesus telling Mary, his mother, that John was her son. It comes from the passage where Jesus was dying on the cross and He said to Mary, “behold, your son!” and then to John, “Behold, your mother!”

Dying, Jesus asks John to look after his mother and asks his mother to accept John as her son. John takes Mary home. John becomes unmistakably part of Jesus’s family.

Here, he’s implying that John and Jesus were lovers because Jesus wanted His mother to accept John as part of the family. However, that is a sign of a close relationship – not necessarily a romantic one. If I were about to die, I would also ask my closest friends – people who I considered my brothers and sisters as well as my lover – to take care of my parents in my place.

His next point comes from the place that John, the supposed disciple whom Jesus loved, had a special place in Jesus’ heart. It’s obvious that Jesus had great affection for John, but the word ‘loved’ itself comes from a definition that can be neutral and platonic and is not necessarily used in a romantic sense.

The author writes:

That disciple was John whom Jesus, the gospels affirm, loved in a special way. All the other disciples had fled in fear. Three women but only one man had the courage to go with Jesus to his execution. That man clearly had a unique place in the affection of Jesus.

When you write, “three women but only one man”, it implies that the women gave up on Jesus and had LESS affection for Him. Interesting how the author downplays the affection that the women – including Mary, who wet Jesus’ feet with her tears – had for Jesus.

Again, this shows that John had a strong bond with Jesus. A brotherly bond – not a romantic one. And we’ll soon see why I feel that it is a brotherly bond.

The author also says:

In all classic depictions of the Last Supper, a favourite subject of Christian art, John is next to Jesus, very often his head resting on Jesus’s breast.

From Ellicot’s Commentary for English Readers: 

(23) Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom.–Leonardo’s picture is in one respect misleading, and, like most paintings of the Lord’s Supper, has not represented the method in which the guests reclined rather than sat at table. Each leaned on his left arm, leaving the right arm free. The feet were stretched out behind the guest on his right hand, and the back of the head reached near to the bosom of the guest on the left. (Comp. Note on John 13:25.) The Jews followed this Persian method of reclining on couches at meals from the time of the Captivity, and this method of eating the Passover had the special significance of security and possession of the Promised Land, as opposed to the attitude of one undertaking a journey, which was part of the original institution (Exodus 12:11).

Jesus was a Hebrew rabbi. Unusually, he was unmarried. The idea that he had a romantic relationship with Mary Magdalene is the stuff of fiction, based on no biblical evidence. The evidence, on the other hand, that he may have been what we today call gay is very strong. But even gay rights campaigners in the church have been reluctant to suggest it. A significant exception was Hugh Montefiore, bishop of Birmingham and a convert from a prominent Jewish family. He dared to suggest that possibility and was met with disdain, as though he were simply out to shock.

Is it truly unusual that Jesus remained unmarried? If Jesus had a wife and children, would He have been as willing to go to the Cross as a sacrifice?

Here, the author writes that He may have been ‘gay’ and that this is supported by strong evidence. However, up to this point, the author has presented virtually no evidence. He talks about how Jesus and John had a strong relationship , which is great, and this relationship can be interpreted as a brotherly friendship.

One of my close friends and I used to text each other every day. My mom kept seeing our imessages on the phone and thought we were lovers. We’re very close and fond of each other and it’s a platonic, sisterly friendship. And people who read into things like your friend being there for you in your moments of crisis have a motive.

Also, he writes about how the reaction of people to the thought of Jesus being gay tends to be intense. That’s like saying the Da Vinci code wasn’t controversial. What do you expect?

After much reflection and with certainly no wish to shock, I felt I was left with no option but to suggest, for the first time in half a century of my Anglican priesthood, that Jesus may well have been homosexual. Had he been devoid of sexuality, he would not have been truly human. To believe that would be heretical.

Whether or not Jesus was devoid of sexuality isn’t the case. His central message is His sacrifice on the cross and the lessons He taught about how others should treat each other.

It is likely that Jesus had sexual feelings  – but why read into it and why connect homosexuality to it? What motive is there in that?

Heterosexual, bisexual, homosexual: Jesus could have been any of these. There can be no certainty which. The homosexual option simply seems the most likely. The intimate relationship with the beloved disciple points in that direction. It would be so interpreted in any person today.

The interesting thing about this article is that it keeps stating that there is ample evidence that Jesus was gay. That if only one could really do her Google-search, she could see that Jesus was totes homosexual. But that is not the truth. He has not presented any real evidence.

Let’s recount: the only evidence this author has presented are Biblical events that could very well have taken place between two friends who have a brotherly bond. The other piece of ‘evidence’ he uses to support his argument is what artists in the past have depicted. Were those artists divinely inspired? Did they ever claim to be? If not, what they draw does not matter.

If I had someone draw me as a six-foot model with long silky blonde hair and blue eyes, it wouldn’t make it any more accurate.

I’ve quoted each paragraph of this article successively. If he makes such a ‘shocking’ point, he should introduce the best support he can have to offer. And so far, there is no biblical basis for what he has written.

Although there is no rabbinic tradition of celibacy, Jesus could well have chosen to refrain from sexual activity, whether he was gay or not. Many Christians will wish to assume it, but I see no theological need to. The physical expression of faithful love is godly. To suggest otherwise is to buy into a kind of puritanism that has long tainted the churches

This paragraph implies that Jesus could have been sexually active. The author’s point is, “why not? If Jesus was sexually active, sex between two loving faithful people is a great expression of godliness. I see no theological need to assume otherwise. Only puritans would disagree – and their thoughts have tainted the churches for ages.”

To say that Jesus was sexually active is an inflammatory statement that seeks to distract from His mission and what He had to say. To call anyone who disagrees ‘puritans’ shows that this person has shrugged off the views of others. Anyone who disagrees with him is just a bigot who holds outdated views.

Even if I were not a Christian, I would still say that this article is as misleading as it is inflammatory. It’s not based on Biblical evidence. It’s based on total conjecture and supports a political agenda.

All that, I felt deeply, had to be addressed on Good Friday. I saw it as an act of penitence for the suffering and persecution of homosexual people that still persists in many parts of the church. Few readers of this column are likely to be outraged any more than the liberal congregation to whom I was preaching, yet I am only too aware how hurtful these reflections will be to most theologically conservative or simply traditional Christians. The essential question for me is: what does love demand? For my critics it is more often: what does scripture say? In this case, both point in the same direction.

In other words, “I know the truth. And I know the truth is going to hurt a lot of you traditional, bigoted Christians. But what does LOVE say? What does Scripture say? They’ll both prove my point, right?”

If you are writing an article about such a controversial topic, you should provide your best arguments. So far, you’ve only mentioned events that could be taken any other way. You have prevented no real Biblical evidence for your views and written this article for a secular newspaper that would be delighted at having the next Da Vinci Code.

Mr. Paul Oestreicher, love demands you to love your neighbor. It demands you to open your wallet and your heart to people who are in need. It asks for you to have love for your enemies – even those puritans who may disagree with your views. It does not, however, ask you to focus on the sexual activities of Jesus or slant certain events to fit your political views.

Whether Jesus was gay or straight in no way affects who he was and what he means for the world today. Spiritually it is immaterial. What matters in this context is that there are many gay and lesbian followers of Jesus – ordained and lay – who, despite the church, remarkably and humbly remain its faithful members. Would the Christian churches in their many guises more openly accept, embrace and love them, there would be many more disciples.

What we agree on is that churches should embrace LGBT individuals. There needs to be better communication and transparency. I know amazing, wonderful LGBT Christians who really want to serve God and follow Him.
What we disagree on is imposing your views on passages of the Bible to promote your political agenda.
Whether Jesus was gay or straight actually is significant – otherwise this author wouldn’t have written about it. However, there is no biblical evidence that suggests in any way that Jesus was gay.
This author’s article evokes the same emotions in me as everything Joel Osteen, prosperity gospel figure, preaches. They’re both the same. And Jesus warned us about people who force their own agenda.
For anyone who’s ever read the Bible from beginning to end, it’s more than obvious that Jesus was not in the least bit gay. Whether He may have struggled with lust or sexuality is a different issue, but if He engaged in sexual activity, it would’ve undermined His mission. Why? Because Jesus’ mission was about saving souls and lives – not about sexual satisfaction.
Also tying back into the author’s argument that Jesus telling John to take care of His mother was like welcoming John as His romantic lover into the family:

“Don’t you read the Scriptures?” he replied. “In them it is written that at the beginning God created man and woman, 5-6 and that a man should leave his father and mother, and be forever united to his wife. The two shall become one—no longer two, but one! And no man may divorce what God has joined together.”

When Jesus says this, He is implicitly affirming His culture’s belief that the relationship between a man and a woman are sacred in the eyes of God. If He had been engaging in any kind of sex, He would never have said this (because He wasn’t married). He saw sex as something sacred and cherished – it’s something to be taken so seriously it’s as if you become one person before God.

The author of this article is as incendiary and deceptive as prosperity Gospel preachers who ask you to donate your life’s savings to plant some ‘seeds of faith, y’all’. Claiming to speak out of love and the Scripture, he’s presented no real evidence.

What gets me upset is not the insinuation he’s making. It’s the lack of biblical evidence he presents and his motive – which is apparent. He truly does want to shock.

Also, some might quote John 20:2 where it is insinuated that John is the disciple whom Jesus loved. Using Strong’s concordance, this type of love is referred to as:

phileó: to love

Original Word: φιλέω
Part of Speech: Verb
Transliteration: phileó
Phonetic Spelling: (fil-eh’-o)
Short Definition: I love, kiss
Definition: I love (of friendship), regard with affection, cherish; I kiss.

Strong’s exhaustive concordance states:

From philos; to be a friend to (fond of (an individual or an object)), i.e. Have affection for (denoting personal attachment, as a matter of sentiment or feeling; while agapao is wider, embracing especially the judgment and the deliberate assent of the will as a matter of principle, duty and propriety: the two thus stand related very much as ethelo and boulomai, or as thumos and nousrespectively; the former being chiefly of the heart and the latter of the head); specially, to kiss (as a mark of tenderness) — kiss, love.

This word for love is used to refer to the way Jesus felt about Lazarus as well. It is the type of love that I have for my close friends and my family.

Experiences, Experiences

 

Hey y’all! So I am starting a new blog after I take REG next week where I basically upload condensed, sanitized versions of what I write here. It will all be posts about my personal journey in faith and career, nothing about the actual clients I’m working on. I do not disclose anything about any clients I work on to any friends or social media profiles. You can expect posts about networking (as I am planning to do more of that, God willing), health tips, food tips, and etc. 😀 

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When I did my internship with the firm I’m starting with last summer, there were a few moments that made me question what full-time in this company would really look like.

The first was when I met a first-year and found out that during the summer, which is supposed to be one of the lighter seasons of work, he worked from 9am to 9pm some days. I was told something different is something I think a lot of first-years who start in Big 4 kind of think. “I was told that I would have a good work life balance”

But I accepted my offer because I knew that even if I did have to work long hours, it will pay off. It’s an investment. I intend to take this path as long as God wants me to.. and from the first time I really got to know this firm, I felt that God wants my time with this firm to be a chapter in my life.

Coming from a family of small business owners, I frequently pitched in to help my family’s business with the mantra of “if you don’t work, you don’t eat.” So I’m just grateful for the chance to have a steady salary and good health insurance.

~

 When I started my internship, I had a formal coach assigned to me who was a manager.

In terms of achievements, he was perfect. He had been promoted early twice and made manager in four years. To shine light on how rare this can be, I shared that information with a director from another office and even he said that was very rare. When I was having lunch with another team, I remember telling them that he was my career coach and their eyes lit up. Even though they didn’t know him personally, they had heard of him.

He inspired me because he was also Asian-American and it seemed like he was being rewarded for his efforts.

In terms of connection, I really, really tried to connect well with him but it just didn’t seem to work out. To put it shortly, I tried my best to establish some sort of connection that would last beyond the summer. I think our personalities just clashed, to be honest. I was very formal that summer while he’s a very laid-back, “I don’t take notes or write in capitals in IMs” kind of guy. Which is great. But I was just an intern, you know. Someone who was afraid that not taking notes (btw, I NEED to write things down or I forget in like five minutes haha) or using proper grammar would cost me my offer.

We had long mentoring sessions where we’d sit and talk one-on-one. He shared his secrets for success, things he described nonchalantly as if we were discussing what he had for breakfast that day (but he was a foodie, so I think he would’ve been more excited if we talked about food). Like I said, I really tried.

I think I started to give up on creating a real connection when he said, “I usually don’t work with interns.”  (he left the firm now so I think I can say that, haha.. but I kinda get where he was coming from. :/)

I also met another manager that summer, an alumni from my school. He was chill, down-to-earth, and reminded me of the mentor I made when I went to interview with the firm for my second-rounds.

During my second round interviews for the leadership conference with the firm, I had an interview buddy who was very easy to talk to and just an awesome person. We even played League together a few times. He’s a Teemo main, so I donno…..

I went to have lunch with Manager B the third week of my internship, I think. He was so chill that he played Pokemon Go. We had lunch at this cool sushi restaurant where I had miso soup and eel. I shared stuff with him about recruiting and I think even elections.

He was the type of guy who put a bag full of pennies into the senior’s laptop bag as a prank.

Anyway, because we weren’t on the same client, that was the last time I saw him that summer. He did message me the final day of my internship to wish me good luck. I sincerely believe that a real mentoring relationship could have been established with him if I had had more face-time with him. He was a chill, down-to-earth guy who had a family and liked to play PokeMon Go and went to the same school I did.

During one of our last mentoring sessions, Manager A said that he wished I had invited him to the lunch I had with Manager B. I felt bad too and I really wished that I had. It would’ve been a lot less awkward, really.  It would have been fun actually. But I had already had dinner with Manager A the week before so I thought it would’ve been awkward to ask again.

I think when I went to have lunch with Manager B, that’s when Manager A started to be kind of on the fence about me :/.  The truth is, I wanted him to like me more than Manager B. Because I really looked up to him.

In the end, both Manager A and Manager B have left.

I believe that God has a reason for everything. I’m sure that Manager A doesn’t even remember me (he called me Olivia at one point), but I’m always going to remember the example he set in terms of his achievements and his work ethic. For instance, one person told me that he got to where he was because of the way he communicated with people. So that’s inspired me to work more on my communication skills. There’s been a lot of times where his advice has helped me and will resonate with me for a great portion of my career.

I don’t think that God wants me to become some sort of superstar at the firm like Manager A was. More so, I’m planning to just learn and absorb as much information as I can for the future. I know for sure I’m going to make mistakes so I think this is a great opportunity  to learn about how to approach them.

I know what I want to be: authentic. Even if it gets me low performance reviews, I will be authentic this time. Authenticity got me to where I was. And it will get me to wherever God wants me to go in the future. I know He’s got great things in store for me. Whether it’s as a librarian, a housewife, an accountant, or as a business owner, I truly believe Him when He says that He has good things planned for me… and not bad.

And so, to really take God up on His promise, I need to pray and to remember to be myself this time.

~

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Hiding my personality out of fear was always something that I struggled with. During the leadership conference, I remember sitting in a hotel room with a friend. Someone who I would eventually run against for president.

To be honest, I was feeling quite insecure during that conference. It was a weird conference that had over 1,000 students attending.

So there we were in this big ol’ ballroom. The recruiters ask all the students to get into four corners of the room based on our personality types. I don’t remember all of them, but I remember there was one called Driver which was the leadership, “call de shots” “Look at me, I’m the captain now” type. Before that event, I was sitting at the table and got some red cards put in front of me. All the red ones were for driver, I think the cards just got messed up so I didn’t get any of the other choices.

Anyways, of course, there was a huge crowd of students in the Driver section and a sampling of students in the other section – the name of which I don’t recall but it was for people who liked to contribute to a team even if it meant obeying the orders of others (I mean, I wouldn’t mind..)

So there I went into the driver section, with my wide-leg trousers, big ol’ blazer, and my Ann Taylor mini purse that swung like a wrecking ball if I moved too quickly. I think like 50 students at least were in the Driver corner. So the recruiter tells us, “Guys, here’s a whiteboard. Pick one person to present the Dos and Donts of being a Driver.”

Immediately, people start clamoring. And I march right up to that whiteboard and I say that I want to present to the people around me. We all agree on who’s going to present the dos and don’ts. And so, that’s how the three of us got to present that day :D.

Even then though, I felt really discouraged by the end of the day. I tried to make small talk with the professionals at my table but they were the social equivalent of brown rice or unseasoned salmon.

So there I was, sitting in that dimly lit hotel room with the person who I would run against in a small – but defining – election in my life. Her roommate hadn’t shown up, so I was on one bed facing up at the ceiling and she was on the other, on her side and looking at me.

“I donno,” I said, staring up at the light on the ceiling. “I don’t feel like I’m a leader.”

“Ophie,” she said. I turned on my side to look at her, still wearing my wide-leg trousers and black blazer. My legs were sore from standing in heels all day and my ego was sore from trying to make small talk with people who looked past my shoulder. She smiled and said, “You exude leadership.”

Like elections, it was something small that I will remember for a while. People looked up to her as a leader in the club. She exuded leadership and charisma too. So for her to say that meant so much to me. And that’s why I could never really be angry at her or dislike her – even though she won against me.

When I first joined that club on campus, I was this curious person who didn’t really know much about herself leadership-wise. I was pretty chill and was okay with standing in the background, although I didn’t hesitate to speak my mind if needed.

But it was moments like that that taught me that maybe I can be more than the girl who stands in the back.

Accounting itself isn’t a glamorous profession like investment banking or management consulting. But I feel happy with where I’m going. And I know God is going to open a lot doors for me as long as I try my best and keep my heart open to Him. I owe Him everything.

I am excited to join public and to start my career although I know it will be challenging. I know that it’s going to be like being involved on campus times 1,000. With God at my side, I feel prepared :). I feel good about it. Prayerfully, it’ll last.

~

 

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Even joining the club as a member was something that happened by chance. I remember my first semester at university. I had just transferred from community college and was planning to graduate then start applying for jobs. If you had asked me back then, I would have thought that public accounting was working for a government agency.

There I was, new to this school and not knowing a soul. I sat on the bench in the shiny new business building and picked up a flyer next to me. It was a promotion for Meet the Firms, hosted by.. Accounting Society? I cringed and put it down. I pictured myself going to an event and feeling alienated (which wasn’t totally inaccurate -at least not during my first semester in it).

What if I walked into a room and awkwardly walked back out five minutes later, $40 wasted, and never showed up to an event again?

I pictured attractive accounting students staring me down across the room and me quickly scuttling away.

The bell rang. I went to my business writing class. That darn professor. I’ll always remember her. You won’t believe how many times I sat in front of her office, yearning for that A. She always gave me a B-plus, man!!! Oh well :(. Anyywayyy…

As people poured into class, I put my phone away into my bag and turned on the computer. I sat in the front row on the right side and waited for the computer to load, my head resting on my hand.

Then I made some small talk with the person sitting next to me, a guy with a big smile and curly hair. There was an intimidating looking girl sitting next to him. She was very pretty and had curly brown hair. We didn’t make much eye contact so I was kinda put off by her.

When the teacher spoke, we transitioned into silence and turned to listen. “So, group projects!” she said brightly, clapping her hands together. She went on to explain the assignment before telling us to get into groups.

I glanced behind me and saw some guys that I would likely be friends with. This is sad but I usually measured potential friendships by wondering, “what is the likelihood of them playing league of legends?” It’s sad. I know. I played League THAT MUCH.

I asked God to “put me in the right team”. Just after my prayer, and just as I was about to turn behind me and ask the guys to be on the same team, the guy next to me said, “Okay, so we’re in a team, right?”

“What?” I sat back in my chair. The girl and the curly-haired guy looked at me expectantly.

Really? I thought. She looks so intimidating. The guy’s okay but honestly, she doesn’t look like someone I’d get along with too well…

“Okay!” I smile. “Sounds great!”

Anyway, during the project I really got to know that girl well and we became friends. We’d sit in the library together and have lunch and work on our project. Then she became a board member in the club and she invited me to join the next semester.

“N-nah…” I remember saying. “I don’t know anyone… so :/…”

“Come on!” she said. “It’ll be fun 🙂 and you know me! My co-chair’s really sweet too.”

“Err.. well, okay! :)”

So yeah! I’m 99% sure that if I hadn’t been friends with her, I wouldn’t have joined as a member in that club.

Even becoming a board member was something I felt a bit apprehensive about doing.

In Fall 2014, I was speaking to the Business Specialist on campus and she encouraged me to get involved as a board member. I remember looking out the window at the fountains and getting that frightening image again – a bunch of attractive accounting students critically assessing me before turning away. “I’ll try,” I remember telling her. And then thinking, I probably won’t.

But when I got the invitation to interview for a position, I remember feeling convicted by God to apply. And so, I did. And well, being involved changed my life. It opened a lot of new doors for me career-wise and in terms of personal development and even spiritual development. It put a new sense of hunger in me that I had never known was there.

I think that hunger was ignited when I went to my first speaker meeting and saw students who had gotten offers with their firms talking about their experiences. Sitting in that crowd, I was attracted and knew that I wanted to be up there someday talking about my own experience. I eventually got the chance to – even though it was in an awkward Q&A and I mostly focused on how the firm got us free food (haha).

The truth is that when I first joined, I DID get some attractive accounting students who looked at me and turned away. But they didn’t matter. The friends that I made were the ones who did.

And as I start work, I know it’ll be more important than ever to remember that the ones who don’t mind matter and the ones who mind don’t matter.

Thoughts on Staying Hungry and Being Used

I still remember the day that the Fall semester ended and I was heading home when I got an email notification on my phone. It was an invitation to become a board member for the largest business club on campus. I didn’t know anyone in the club but I felt God stirring me to join. So, I decided to give it a go and signed up.

Joining that club was a definitive experience in my life. I had been involved in leadership before at church but this was different. It was an amazing, refreshing feeling being able to implement new things that could help people. All the problems that I had faced… I suddenly had new opportunities to try to work on them so that other people could have a better experience than I did.

Then came the comments that I was aggressive. And yes, I will admit that I was coarse back then and lacked empathy. However, I also believe that it was a bit of their bias as well. I went into the club with an open mind and an open heart. I was that girl sitting in the audience with a curious, blank look on her face. Soon though, I began to discover more of myself and my identity through that newfound empowerment.

And the more I did, the more my determination started to reveal itself and people began to call me that word: aggressive.

During my internship last summer, my career coach said that he could see I was hungry. He was someone that I really looked up to because at a young age, he’s already accomplished a lot. And his determination really resonated with me.

I know that Hillary Clinton is unpopular for a lot of reasons and I am not a big fan of her myself, but I also know that gender bias – yes, gender bias- is partly to blame for all the hate she gets. From my own experiences, I’ve seen that women who dare to step out of that mold of femininity are seen as Other.

After reading several articles about the lack of women in leadership roles and in the board room, I feel like it is because from a young age women are told that to be feminine we have to be a certain way. We have to smile. We can’t raise our voices. If we dare to disagree with someone, it can be difficult for certain audiences – especially those in an older age group – to take us seriously.

I asked those around me if I was truly an aggressive person like people kept saying I was. And a friend said something interesting. She said, “Ophie, they are just mistaking determination for aggression.”

And so, I always want to stay hungry. I believe that God has made me hungry. Hungry to be used by Him. Hungry to succeed. Hungry to continue achieving.

It also hurts to realize that some became friends with me only because they felt they could benefit from our friendship. When I first joined the club, I was at the bottom of the ladder and I knew who my real friends were because they had no incentives to get to know me. But yet they did. And they helped me without me even asking.

One of the friends I made my very first semester in the club took my messy, misformatted resume and cleaned it up AND reworded it. Without me asking. I was so grateful. He has no idea how much he helped me, haha. Another friend sent me textbook solutions via Google Drive without me asking. None of my teachers used questions from the textbooks but it helped for when I was doing practice questions out of the book.

My very first semester in the club, in 2014, when I was a new member, I joined the mentoring program and the last session was an Ugly Christmas Sweater party. I had spent a few hours in front of the television with a sewing needle and Elf playing on Netflix and carefully attached each bell to my sweater.

When I went to the mentoring program, I asked people to vote for me. And I didn’t even place in the top three. I mean, not that I deserved it.. haha.. because I purposefully made my Christmas sweater FAABBB and it was an UGLY Christmas sweater party. But it was also a very popularity-based contest – obviously – . Also, the bells on my sweater kept falling off. I would be walking and hear a *jingle* then turn to see a little bell on the floor and someone would ask, “Oh. Is that yours?”

I’d be like “ye.”

There I was in the crowd, standing excitedly as they announced the top three. I think only five people out of 60+ attending dressed up. When I wasn’t announced as being in the top three, I remember feeling a bit down about it. I mean, I understood but I felt confident because people kept saying they were going to vote for me :p. I-I guess not then…

Anyway, it makes sense. From a popularity point of view, I was basically unknown and I wasn’t even a board member. I was also a mentee so… yeah.

I mean, contrast that to my last semester in college in my Audit class, one of the two final accounting classes I took. This class was taught by the same Director at the firm who led intern training for Assurance.

He had us separate into teams for a debate, see. And it was just random teams.

So when it came time for my team to present, no one on my team spoke up. It was so awkward. I mean, before that, I had asked them if they were comfortable speaking on this part and that part and they seemed okay with it. Regardless, it ended up being me speaking up the entire time for my team.

I really wanted to give them a chance to present too, so I kept waiting for awkward, precious minutes and turned my head to look at them. They avoided eye contact the entire time.

So then when it came time for the class to vote on which speech they thought was best, I remember looking at a lot of the faces I recognized in class. I mean, having been involved in the club for so long and also in a lot of the recruiting events as an ambassador, I recognized a lot of people. Some of them had even been at elections too when I ran for president.

Even though I was the only one on my team who spoke, I ended up winning that debate. And I was shocked. And so was the director. His eyes went wide and he was like, “really?”

But then he gave me twice the extra-credit points which was nice.

Tying this all back into that experience and feeling of being used, I’m saying that once I gained more recognition in the club and had more power (and not just on campus but also because I had an offer from a great firm), people started being nice to me. I remember going back Fall 2015 and expecting people to still treat me like I was invisible but I was surprised when people who didn’t even care to talk to me back then started asking me how my summer was and complimenting my eyebrows.

I ended up making some great friends but the thing with that is that I also lost friends. When I ran for President in Spring 2016, people started distancing themselves from me. While I needed to learn some lessons in empathy back then, I also know that it was because I was defying what their image of me had been.

I read an article in Harvard Business Review about how leaders tend to fail because of their hubris. Their humility and down-to-earth personalities tend to get them to the top in the first place… but the more power they have, the more they start to lose that same sense of humility.

So I think that people just saw that I was changing. They didn’t like it. So people who I called my friends a few months ago ended up ignoring me. They didn’t smile anymore when they were around me. They didn’t acknowledge me anymore.

And while that change was not for the better (because I was losing a sense of who I was), I don’t think I deserved for them to treat me that way. Because I didn’t fit into who they thought Ophie was anymore, they just decided to do their own thing and leave me out.

And there was one person who led the entire thing and had no remorse for the way that he treated me and humiliated me in front of everyone at elections. I forgive him and I truly wish him the best but when I think about how he orchestrated things, it stings. It really stings.

While I didn’t have the approval of the ‘popular people’ anymore, I was doing what I had sought to do from the beginning. I saw people who were in the same shoes as I had been when I first joined. I wanted to introduce them to a much better experience and help include them. And it worked because at least three of the people I took the time to mentor and hang out with became executive board members and went on to help others too.

But I’ve begun to realize that once people get what they want out of you or they see that you can’t help them as much, they start to treat you differently. And this realization never occurred to me until the semester before I ran for president, when someone asked me, “Aren’t you afraid people are going to use you?”

So I know that I have two choices: I can be bitter and refuse to help others.. or I can just give without expecting to get anything back. I know God would want me to choose the second one. Because that’s kinda what other people did for me when I first joined. The ones who took the time to be nice to me even when I didn’t have anything to offer them at first.

During my internship, the lead partner would always jokingly say, “Ophie, do you want to help us set our audit methodology this time?” or something like that. Obvs, the intern isn’t going to set any audit methodologies soon. While I knew he was teasing, I thought it was interesting because he was pointing out how little I knew and how new I was to this firm.

And so, I always felt a tad insecure because I started to feel small.

But the truth is that this is where I am – today.

God’s going to take me so, so far tomorrow.

I’ve changed from who I was before I joined that club. I became hungrier. And this hunger will continue to grow.