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Fitting in is for assholes I can keep on telling myself that but in the end it still will be something that elude me and I will still be bothered by it

Losing

April 21, 2013

in therapy in session

I have lost 30 lbs. since last summer.

There. I said it.

I don’t know why I have been feeling too embarrassed to tell you this. I feel guilty. What’s with all the “you are beautiful the way you are” “girl power” blah blah rah rah Dove marketing speeches I tend to meander into. I did not come clean earlier because I am worried that you will somehow be mad. Somehow it feels like I have committed betrayal.

It all started last May when they were getting a Weight Watcher group together at work. Have I told you that my office has 500+ people and most of them are young and female, above-average-looking and most importantly, thin? It took a llllooooonnnnngggggg time to get 15 people (the minimum for a WW group leader to come onsite) to sign up. I thought, “Why not? I have nothing to lose [ha ha].” I was lucky that the WW method of counting points turned out to work for me. It was difficult in the beginning of course considering how an ounce of vodka is 5 points and I had only 29 points per day to spend. What saved me was the “rule” that all vegetables and fruits count as zero point and therefore I filled myself up with apples and bananas in the morning and ate a lot of grapes throughout the day. At night I ate a lot of egg whites and fish which I loved.

I eventually got a hang of it: counting points forced me to become aware of everything that went into my mouth. [Stop giggling, you pervs!] I learned to make mental trade-offs: “Do I want to have this piece of cheap cookie now or do I want a shot of vodka later?”  I started eating healthier with less carb and smaller portions without going hungry and found myself with lots more energy. When we left for Taiwan last August to visit my family I’d lost about 15 lbs.

I was excited to be home even more because I thought that my family would notice my weight loss and would, you know, say something nice.

What was I thinking?

I tried to brush off the usual comments about my “American” size –  These comments were laid upon me by everybody, I mean, EVERYBODY, sometimes even strangers (grandmothers with good intentions lest I lose my husband due to my not keeping myself in good shape…) every time I went home. you’d thought by then I’d gotten used to them.

Pardon the cliche, but the straw that broke the camel’s back was when a female relative greeted me with this line, “Come let me see how much fatter you are since the last time I saw you.” It sounds a lot worse in English. In Chinese, it could be interpreted as a good-humored tease, showing affection and familiarity. But what the fuck? I’d lost 15 lbs before I came home. How much thinner do I have to be to make you people happy?!

The thing about teasing by your Chinese family is that you cannot get upset. If you do, people will be offended that you cannot take a joke, and that somehow is a sign of poor upbringing.

“You bring dishonor to your family.” <– Ok. That was a joke.

I gritted my teeth and smiled while she spun me around.  As soon as she’s done “inspecting” me, I immediately accused myself so I could rush to the bathroom and quietly sob behind the door.

Usually I give up easily. I don’t ever remember myself being the type of people that turn rejection into a motivating force.

“You don’t like me? Fine. I will just crawl into a dark corner and die. Take THAT!”

Something clicked however last summer as I sat wide awake in our hotel room at dawn while the kids were still sound asleep. [Btw, THANK GOD for kids that do not suffer jet lags!] I started taking full advantage of the decked out gym and spa at W Taipei. I was on the machine for an hour in the morning. I went back to the machine for another hour in the evening, sometimes after midnight because I resented those beautiful people that were frolicking in the bar area surrounding the beautiful swimming pool. [I know this does not make any sense at all. Just work with me…]

Maybe that’s what did it. The 10 days of serious workout regiment kicked off some weird biological thing inside my body. Long story short, instead of gaining weight from stuffing myself with all the awesome food that I had missed (I was not going to let those people stop me from eating. Hell no! Carb or no carb!) I ended up shedding more lbs during the trip.

I will be honest even though I fear I sound like a hypocrite: I do like looking at my pictures more now. They look more like what I’ve imagined myself to look like all along. [Yes, I will also confess that I am a Narcissist.  So there!] Instead of deleting every single picture with me in it, I will do that to only 80% of them. Yes, possibly I have also become more vain: without telling people back home that I have lost weight, I started posting pictures of myself on Facebook. An actual announcement and especially the explanation of how would equal defeat in my mind, an admission that they have somehow won. Also, deep down I fear that some of them would probably have said, “Oh, you’ve lost weight? I did not notice. How much did you lose?…”

I was hoping that people would get the idea.

Oh no you didn't

I hope you regret it now because I was cute before and now I am just fucking gorgeous.

 

 

What was I thinking, really?

My mom called tonight.

“So and so was showing me your pictures from Face Book. She said that you seem to have lost a lot of weight. I said, ‘Nooo. Did she? Nah.’ Did you? You didn’t right? You look the same to me.”

I shut my eyes tightly and took a deep breath.

I said nothing.

Nothing.

 

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I have signed up for some training courses offered at work, one of them is called “How to present with confidence”. Yes, at 40+, I still struggle with opening my mouth in front of a group larger than 5. It’s a miracle that I even survived this many years in corporate America. Someone overheard me and commented, “Is this the same as the course ‘How to present with charisma?'” “Nope. I am not qualified to take the charisma class,” I joked.  I then made everybody laugh when I said, “Actually, I am all charisma and no confidence.”

I thought about this throwaway punchline on my 2-hour flight back home. (I am trying to read Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom and unfortunately my brains seem to want to think of anything else but focusing on that book…) We were laughing because it is impossible, right? to have charisma when one does not have any confidence. Doesn’t charisma come from a surplus of self-confidence?

However, deep down I knew I was kidding on the square when I threw out this line. I have been known to be charming on many occasions, but I never ever feel truly confident.

Is it possible to fake confidence and/or charisma? And if you fake it, is it still confidence / charisma or is it something else altogether? Could it be possible that charisma sometimes comes from one’s unawareness, unassumingness, and humility? Something more akin to quiet grace?

But of course, I already know this definition of charisma is, at best, marginal, if not considered outright incorrect, in a course titled “How to Present with Charisma” and the business world that propagate such courses.

Head. Desk.

I am unrepentant though, and probably will continue to be even after taking the “confidence” training. And I will continue to smile at the thought that I am all charisma and no confidence. Secretly, of course.

 

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