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A Note About Authenticity: II

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“You’re so corporate,” my cousin said, rolling his eyes. We were in my hotel room at the Holiday Inn in Macau (where we got a free upgrade to business class). I had just finished telling him about how I had built relationships with some of the people in the firm I’ll be starting with. I laughed his comment off but that comment stuck with me for a while.

Corporate.

What does being corporate mean?

So I’ve realized over these past few months how easy it is to fall into a Corporate Mindset.

At the last Meet the Firms I attended as an ambassador, a girl came up to me and through a gritted smile, asked, “Ophie, where are the important people?” I looked at her for a long, long time.

After having been involved in an accounting organization for a very long time and meeting hundreds of people, after finishing a sophomore conference and my internship, I’ve identified at least two types of people in the public accounting world.

The first type of person is genuine. This person treats everyone the same – regardless of whether or not that other person can help them. This person smiles, makes an attempt to make small talk, and is friendly just because he/she strives to be a good person. Then there is the second type.

Regarding the girl I discussed earlier, when I first joined the organization she was pretty cold to me and would not engage in conversation with me at all. I think I tried at least four times that semester to make some sort of small talk with her but she would just give one-word answers and not even look in my direction. Apparently, she does this with a lot of other people too – mainly her peers and people who are new to the club.

The second type of person that I have identified is actually quite rare but they are out there. These are the people who, if you don’t have anything to offer them, don’t have a reason to really want to talk to you or get to know you. They might not always be mean or cold, but they just don’t care. And that’s okay, because that’s being human.

But tying this back into the discussion of being corporate, I realize that I am that first type of person. Even if people think I am kissing ass, I know that I genuinely like to meet people and get to know them. Whether I am talking with a partner or  an intern, I am the exact same way.  I am the SAME person.

Wherever God takes me, I never want to sink into a Corporate mindset where it’s all about getting to know the ‘important people’ and disregarding everyone else. Where you’re so focused on being politically correct and glossy that you forget what it’s like to be human. For a while, the idea of having to kiss ass and be fake tortured me. I was like, ‘that’s not who I am.’ But I’ve just began to really understand that if you are genuine, people appreciate that. And the ones who don’t… don’t matter.

The last conversation I had with a partner lasted about forty minutes. I was at the full-time offer celebration event in Florida and mistook him for an intern initially  – lol. But I got to talk to him one-on-one and I was just genuinely myself that time. I had spent half my internship stifling who I was so I didn’t offend people so by the time that I got my offer, I was like, “Nope. This is me. No more faking it.”

Later on, he would tell a friend of me that he was impressed by how ambitious I was. And I was just myself. I treated him the exact same way I would have treated someone I was meeting for the first time at church. And that’s just who I am. And it makes me feel good to understand this.

When I was new to the club, I was rejected a lot during my first semester. A lot of the board members didn’t even remember meeting me – let alone my name (introducing myself twice). But I never gave up, because I remembered that those who don’t mind are the ones who matter.

I was also encouraged by something Heather Lindsey shared about God and where He’s placed us in this world. She said that God placed us here for a unique purpose, and that if we don’t fulfill that purpose and if we are not true to ourselves… that the world is worse off.

So even though I got quite a few cold looks that semester (and the one after) … and even though people would forget even MEETING me let alone my name… I never gave up. I focused on those who DID matter, friends who I would rise to the top with. And when I came into power, I promised myself that I would do my best to make sure that the members after me would have a better experience. One where they felt accepted and welcomed into the club.

Fast forward from 2014 to 2017.. when I was having lunch with a good friend of mine. We met through a system that I had implemented. She is now part of the executive board at the club. She looked at me and said that because I pushed the idea of everyone treating everyone equally so hard, she was going to do her best to promote that same atmosphere of openness and hospitality.

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Church Adventure II

In my latest church adventure, I visited a church in Pasadena. Located inside of an elementary school, this church was an off-shoot of a larger church and had just opened its doors in March of this year. It was the first time in years that I’ve actually gone to a church and felt the presence of God. Those words carry some heavy weight but during worship, during the message and while listening to the pastor talk about how the church came to be started, I couldn’t help but feel that way.

The worship was great and the music was so lively. The audience and the band on stage were all very passionate. The message really inspired me. I also went to a class they had for visitors and I liked hearing about how the church came to be.

Lastly, I also got in touch with someone a few months ago about small groups and I’ve been assigned to one for a few months now. I just finished visiting another church so I haven’t gone to any of their meetings yet.

However, after my experience today, I don’t think I will be going back to this church either. I did my best to really get to know people and more about what the church’s culture is like. Everyone was friendly and made eye contact but I couldn’t feel a connection. It’s like they were just making conversation to give me some basic information, make some small talk and then on to the next.

My goal in every single conversation I had today was to really get a feel for this church and its people. I wanted to make a connection but it just kept fizzling out because I felt like they weren’t reciprocating. When I became the one asking questions and trying to move the conversation along, that’s when I knew that my church adventures would continue.

I expect this to happen at work of course and at the supermarket and anywhere else. You laugh, smile, make some awkward small talk, and then move on. But… in terms of a home church – which is TRULY what I am looking for , a place to serve and grow and build relationships with people – I’m looking for a place where I feel like I can build real friendships with people.

This is based off a church I used to go to when I was home-schooled. It was a small church but from the first meeting, I felt loved and welcomed. I fell in love with that church and at one point, I could say that my best friends were at that church. It’s a tall order and super hard to compare to – but that’s what I’m looking for and I’ve been searching for a church for years now and have yet to find one that has the same sense of connectivity.

What really confirmed my decision to move on and continue church-searching are two events:

1.)

Ophie in the Midst of Budding Romance 

I met some of the people from my small group. Right when I walked in through the doors, I met both of the leaders, Girl A and Boy B.

Boy B: Hey, Ophelia! You’re here!

Boy B and I had been in contact via email about the meetings.

Me: Yeah! It’s so great to finally meet you :-)!

Girl A: [pauses]

I noticed a weird look on her face.

Girl A: Oh, have you guys been contacting each other?

Me: Yeah! :] He’s been giving me some information about meeting up. I haven’t been able to attend any of the meetings lately but hopefully soon! ^__^

Girl A: Ah… okay…

Me: [Thinking: hmm, why does she look like that? Is there something going between them two?]

I shrugged it off the first time but my suspicions of jealousy and budding romance were confirmed after the service. I end up talking to Girl A again one-on-one after service while I was looking for their 1st Steps Class. Boy A joins us and then he says, “Oh yeah, I’m only attending these small group meetings so I can see [Girl A] more :)!” They smile glowingly at each other and a small uncomfortable smile grows on my face.

It was just really awkward to witness and so that kinda sealed the decision for me to find another church.

2.) The pastor kept forgetting my name. That WOULD be forgivable.. if I weren’t WEARING A NECKLACE WITH MY NAME WRITTEN ON IT. Yes, I had a personalized gold necklace made that said OPHIE. And I introduced myself as Ophie. (?#?#?#??#?#?#?##?##??#)

First he called me, “What was your name again?”

Then he called me, “Sophelia”

Then he called me, “Olivia”

By the time he got it right, I left their 1st Steps class early and knew that it was time to move on.

Although I did not feel a connection to the people there, I still really enjoyed the worship service and the message. I’m planning on attending a church on my dad’s side of town next Sunday so that’ll be fun!

Anyway, as a last note, I’ve started getting flashbacks of how I was like a few years ago. I think there was a point in time where I got used to others liking me that I forgot that there were many, many moments when others would underestimate me. For example, in 2015, I attended mock interviews for my school’s accounting club on campus where we could get interviewed by actual accounting recruiters and professionals.

My first choice was for the firm that I have an offer with now. Instead of giving me someone from that firm, the people who were in charge of the event gave me mock interviews with mid-tier and local firms. Now that I think back on it, they probably didn’t think I was Big 4 material.

Surprise surprise! I got my offer for the SLP, the internship and then full-time. And out of everyone who applied for a certain office, I was the only one who got an offer.

However, I will never forget to give glory to God for whatever I accomplish or do. Even if I didn’t have a job offer, I would still be grateful for everything He does.

Although things didn’t work out the way I thought they would, I’m still going to pray for this church because I feel like God is really moving there. Regardless of whether or not they remember my name, it doesn’t change the fact that they are doing their best to follow Jesus and glorify Him. I don’t have any ill-will to any of the churches I’ve visited for the past few years and I will always value the work that they are doing in the name of Christ. It really inspires me.

Call it ambitious, but I’m looking for a church where I feel a real connection.

 

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Authenticity and Plagiarism

A Note on Authenticity

After visiting several churches and completing an internship with a Christian non-profit, I learned more about who I am. It was hard to relate to people at one point, even when I was involved on campus, because I lacked empathy for people. And strangely enough, it was the Lord who brought this to my attention. I remember just praying about it and asking God what I could do to relate to people more, and He showed me that I needed to have empathy for others.

A childhood friend of mine likes to tell the story of when we were both in pre-school. We went to the same pre-school in Chinatown and I refused to pick up after my toys after I finished playing with them. The teacher said that if I did not pick up my toys, I could not leave the room so I sat there crying. I honestly don’t remember this story (lol), but apparently, my friend was the one who picked up my toys for me.

I think for a while, that’s the sort of mindset I had in my relationship with others… for the most part. Although I did consciously try to be a good friend and to show my friends and family my appreciation for them, I’m actually more selfish than I realize.

How many of us can sit here and honestly say that we really care about what others feel like or what their stories are if it doesn’t benefit us in some way?

I know that in my own carnal nature, I honestly just don’t care too much. But then, I think back to the moments when I did care to actually get to know people regardless of whether or not they could ‘help’ me, and I realize that it was all in the context of my relationship with God. Basically, being able to see people as creations of God instead of just blank faces walking around helps me to actually be more invested in them and care. Suddenly, I want to get to know them and what their stories are. I want to learn about who they are because they suddenly seem more human.

It might be a bit sad to say but it’s true, haha. And I realize that when I would be meeting new people or trying to make new friendships, I would have to force myself to really appear or be interested in what they had to say. When I went on an overseas trip a few months ago, I remember thinking that I needed to be more curious about the world around me. But then there was that crass voice that was just like, “lol, who cares.”

In the end, I’m really blessed to have someone like God in my life because I see that He truly makes me a better person. When I’m close to Him, I’m the best version of myself. Some of the closest friends I’ve made have been because of Him. I spent way too long compartmentalizing Him and putting Him off to the side, but the truth is He should be at the focal point of everything I do – especially when I’m meeting others.

Plagiarism 

So sales have been very slow for my online writing business. Cool fact though, I actually wrote a biography for a partner at EY. He’s a leader in FS at EY Vietnam and he needed help with a biography for one of his proposals. I don’t know if he liked my work, but that was pretty cool! I can add that to my list of celebrities… including that one prisoner from Beyond Scared Straight and Kenya Moore’s boyfriend on Real Housewives of Atlanta.

Anyway, I noticed that a lot of the other sellers have actually copied my work. Not only that, but my shop descriptions as well. I was actually the first one to come up with the idea of a personalized questionnaire and now everyone and their grandma has it.

Well, I’m closing shop for good later this month anyway so.. yeah. I still have enough earnings to tide me over until I start full-time next week. I’ve decided to start saving up for a house soon. A few years ago, my stepfather bought a house in Corona that was newly constructed and it was gorgeous and pretty affordable. I would like a house just like that.

It’ll take a while to save for the down payment but God-willing, we’ll get it hahaha.

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People Are Strange

Group conversations have never been my forte but I’ve always done my best to make be polite in group conversations, have something to contribute and make others feel welcome.

In my latest church adventure, I visited this church about 10 minutes away from my house. Most people have been really nice but an experience happened today that left me feeling confused and somewhat upset. I was having lunch with a group of people and when there was a lull, I turned to ask a girl beside me something about her internship since she was so excited about it. She gave me a glance and said that she was trying to hear what someone else was saying.

I feel like before that, I would try to make conversation with her and get to know her but she would answer in one word sentences (which I guess aren’t really sentences at all).

I just so happened to bring my close friend with me to church today so when we were talking about it, my friend encouraged me to let it go and to continue giving this church another chance.

I’m not so mad about what happened anymore as much as I’m upset with the way that this person texted me afterwards and her psuedo ‘apology’. She said that she was sorry if she had hurt my feelings and that she thought it would be rude to go into a side-conversation if someone else was speaking. To put it shortly, I don’t really believe that.

I honestly can sit here and say that I’ve tried my best to get to know people from this church and try to make some sort of connection happen but I think it’s time to just move on and find another one. For the most part, people have been welcoming but I don’t know if there’s really a connection there.

Jesus said to forgive your brother 77+ times in a day if he sins against you, and I do forgive her and I do wish her the best but stuff like that just makes me think twice about really wanting to get involved in this church. I’ve met a few really great people but I’m really put off by my experience today.

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So far, I’ve been feeling better… for the most part. I learned though that I tend to run from God when I feel nervous or anxious. So, I decided it’s time to really put my trust in God more even when I feel worried.

I did that today with my CPA exam. My results are coming in next month for these two sections I’ve taken, as well as the third one I’ll be taking next week. I am super anxious but I’ve decided to put my trust in Him and rely on His timing.

My jaw still hurts occasionally and I still have that same weird discomfort on my upper teeth. The general advice I’ve gotten is to wait it out because the symptoms are a bit strange. So that is what I am doing, I’m going to wait it out u_u.

I am really excited for Final Fantasy 12:Zodiac Age to come out and I’m also really excited to try Crash Bandicoot too. They’re both new releases on the PS4 so they’re out of my price range right now but I’m sure I can save enough Amazon points to play them.

Additionally, I tried this product called Moon Juice which is an herbal supplement I found on Goop. I visited Goop thinking that I would have a good laugh but I actually ended up really liking it. Advice like, “invest in these $3,000 Gucci loafers” is pretty pretentious but I just substituted that with, “invest in a nice pair of loafers – overall”.

I tried all the flavors of Moon Juice by ordering a variety pack from Nordstroms and actually, I don’t know if it’s the placebo effect but I noticed a difference in my health. I think around this time, my dental pain felt better too. My favorite dusts are Spirit Dust and Beauty Dust.

Don’t get me started on Sex Dust though. It has this ingredient called Horny Goat Weed. I laughed at that and then when I tried it, I woke up in the middle of the night and I don’t know if it was the dust or anything but I… felt quite awake. If you know what I mean.

Moon juice or not, I choose to trust in God even when I’m in pain. I think it’s a big part of my faith and being able to mature in Christ. Being able to run to Him even when I feel anxious is a big step in my relationship with Him.

 

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I went to church today. It was my third visit and I feel like people here are quite welcoming. I’ve gotten coffee with two girls from church and I enjoyed getting to know them. I haven’t been regularly attending church for years so it’s going to be hard to know how to be part of a community again but I’m looking forward to whatever it is that God wants to do.

The pastor last week talked about fear and how in the midst of fear, we should set our eyes, mind and desire upon God. And it fit this week perfectly, because this past week was one filled with fear and anxiety and pain. It was a conscious effort to look to God every day.

I think my future plans for church is just to keep attending and maybe attend their small groups after I get BEC done. Everyone has been really warm and welcoming and it’s a relief from all the other more cliquey churches I’ve been through.

As for the pain, it’s eased up. The first oral surgeon I saw I think was jumping the gun when he advised me for to get it extracted. Actually, now that I think about it, I was the one who asked him for a quote on the dental implant. I think he said I should wait as well. My relative referred me to another dentist yesterday who’s had 30 years of experience and he asked me to wait and said it was most likely my grinding.

My biggest fear is that I’ll be driving to work and a toothache will come on. Nothing like a random toothache during a 40-minute commute, eh?

But I choose to trust in God. Not just that even if a toothache occurs, that He’ll help me handle it but also that even if I feel like things at work aren’t going great, He will be there to help me like He always has. And in the past, He has come through for me many times before.

Even if I did have to get this tooth extracted, I would thank God for just giving me the resources I need to get it taken care of. Nothing like going to your first day of work with a missing molar… but still. God has provided for me in countless ways.

My first semester being involved on campus as a board member, I wanted the position of Marketing Director and Mentoring Chair. Those were my first two choices. I think membership chair was my third choice (if I’m not mistaken). I ended up getting membership chair but the semester after that, I got three positions, two of which were Marketing Director and Mentoring Chair. No matter what anyone says, I believe firmly that it was something God orchestrated. And it’s not because I was witty and got along with everyone, I wasn’t even there that much during my first semester. I feel like God just orchestrated things to give me a chance.

Public accounting is a crazy world and I’ve heard stories from people and experiences from my friends and relatives. My internship was great but there were moments of disillusion. For example, once the senior had to give a presentation to the audit partner in front of us in this cramped audit room. He asked her really hard questions and the room was really tense. I laugh when I’m nervous, so that’s a recipe for disaster. I tried not to laugh because it was so awkward and weird. I really hope I didn’t offend her cause she was one of the coolest seniors I met but that moment was really disillusioning.

At the same time, the HR person I talked with at the end of my internship said the lead partner was ‘a big fan of mine’ and had great things to say about me. Also, he tried to get lunch with everyone on the audit team at least once – even the associates. But I just wonder if they were trying to get me to accept my offer.

When I chose accounting, I did so because my spiritual mentor was in accounting and I also enjoyed my class in accounting. It’s a stable field and I have a roadmap that I already want to follow. But sometimes the stories do scare me.

Regardless, these past six months have taught me a lot about trusting God in the midst of fear and in times of pressure.

Even though these past six months were full of trials and there were weeks that I felt like I was at the end of my rope, God helped me to learn in the midst of affliction.

The biggest lesson? That He is always watching and that it’s not always about me.

On a side note, I won’t be blogging much about work on here for confidentiality reasons but this blog is about honoring God and sharing about everything He’s doing in my life.

 

As for starting work full-time, they asked for a celebrity lookalike and I googled “asian girl red blouse” and also used a celebrity lookalike generator. The generator said I most resembled Kim Tae Yeon but I was like… no… hahah. In the end, I chose Jennifer Ushkowitz and I’m kind of predicting this super awkward moment where they’ll show my picture and her picture side-by-side somewhere. I think I’m not bad-looking on my own right, but there’s always the risk of looking a bit mousey when your picture is put next to a glammed up celebrity …

 

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What I Learned About Myself Today

I went to see yet another oral surgeon today and it actually was not a bad experience. The oral surgeon was very kind and the people in his office were super sweet. Although he was booked up until next week, his receptionist managed to squeeze me in today.

He basically suggested that I wait before doing anything drastic and I truly appreciated him saying that. The price he quoted me was half of what the other oral surgeon quoted me. I got really excited when he told me and I wish I hadn’t, haha -__-. But I was just so shocked because the difference between what they quoted was so vast. The first one quoted me $6,050 for the procedure and the one I saw today gave me a ballpark figure around $3,500.

It was quite interesting. I think that I will return to him again and hopefully he won’t be like, “dang, if that other surgeon charged so much, I should charge more too.” Haha.

Teeth pain and oral surgeons aside, I learned something really interesting about myself today. It’s a realization that I don’t think would have come if I didn’t really listen to God. Basically, I’m a colder person than I realized.

During all these doctor visits, I’ve gotten to know a lot of people in dental offices. The last office I went to had this super friendly receptionist and she was like, “wow, you’re so nice! (: “and the receptionist and the assistant at the second office I went to today were both saying pretty much that I was a nice person.

Like I said, I do my best to be a good person and spread good vibes but I realized that I have a tendency to make people feel bad when I feel threatened. Which is normal, of course.. but it’s something I never realized until today. I went home and then I felt this distance between God and me. I prayed about it… and then I realized that before I went to see the oral surgeon today, I had an encounter with a homeless man on the street.

It seriously would have slipped my mind if God hadn’t brought it up to me. Basically, I was waiting at the stoplight. The homeless man crossed the street and I stared ahead. I felt him make eye contact with me and then he turned and kept asking me for change. I put on my best ice-queen face and stared ahead, glaring.

My mom caught up to me and told me that I forgot the DVD for my CT scan in the car. I quickly strode off without even casting another look at the homeless man.

So here I was, at home in my comfortable bed listening to music on my IPad and drinking the expensive Gwenyth-Paltrow endorsed Moon Juice that costs an arm and a leg per satchel, and I felt that I was a pretty good person because some dental assistants said that I was nice. But the truth is that I’m not a good person at all. God’s got a lot of work to do in me.

And God showed me that I had no place in ignoring that homeless man. I should not have glared ahead and treated him like he wasn’t human. Why did I do that?

I think I was scared that if I made eye contact, he would hit me or try to hurt me. A lot of the things I do that are cold are just out of fear. I don’t like being vulnerable and if it comes down to it, I’m determined to be the one who strikes first. When people tell me I’m nice, it only reinforces the feeling that I need to do something to show people that they can’t take advantage of me.

As I write this, I get flashbacks to moments when I really did hurt people out of fear.  I have a vague memory of me doing something and a friend wincing and saying, “Oohh, that’s cold.”

There are few people who hurt others for the fun of it. Most of us just hurt others because we’re afraid.

But regardless, I should have, and if I could go back I would, at least made eye contact with him and acknowledged him as a human being. Even if it was to say, “Sorry, I don’t have change” or “Can I buy you some food instead?”

And what if he did try to punch me or hit me? I could dodge and it was a busy street. The truth is, it was wrong to ignore him and treat him worse than I would a homeless dog on the street. And I thank God for showing me what I did… because it was wrong.

Because what’s really separating me from a homeless person on the street? We’re just a job, an apartment and a few weeks apart.