Surprised myself

“What do you do?”

I’ve had to answer this question with every person I talk to. Insurances, landlards, agents, phone companies and weird bum in coffee shops. And unbeknowest to me, my subconscious has been using every chance to practice the elevator speech for me, refining, condensing and meticulously measuring the impact of each word.

It was like I was looking at a person in a movie from above. The person spoke with confidence and in a deliberate manner, timing everyword to the heartbeat of the audience and pacing for maximum effect. No fear, no doubt and bemused at the absurdity of the situation: “When did I get these skills?”

But, it wasn’t really a surprise. A 30 people audience is nothing at all compared to a few hundred people in a ballroom. It’s a surprise because I had written off any benefit I might have gained from that part of my past. It explains the calm nerve, but what about the pitch? The perfect pacing and the tone? That came out of nowhere.

Which reminded me of a talk I had with my dad when we were discussing universities and career paths. A very disheartening exchange in my memory where he tear apart any possible future I could have in anything that involves speaking and human to human contacts by pointing out an immgrant’s inherent disability in speaking ability and people’s perception of our race.

But evidence points to the other direction. I find myself excelling in these non-technical roles and thinking back on that exchange. “What if I never heard it was impossible?”. What if I never heard the hidden dissaproval from my dad’s silence when I tried to show him what I was working on? Until one after another, he tore apart my enthusiasm and I learned my lesson to hide what I was working on because I can already hear his mocking disaproval before Ieven try to explain. Anything that is not doctor, engineer or business is a failure in his eyes and a waste of life. Yet it is exactly that attitude which bogged down innovation in Asian socities while empowering those in the west.

I’ve learned to keep my silence, but everytime I do, I can still hear the dissapproving tone and the comments he’d make. Because I know that whatever I work on is usually too new and volatile and is not a “normal” job.  Yet looking back, time and time again, those things have come out to be great and would’ve been even more wonderful if I actually stuck with them. I have no business complaining, because it all comes from me not being strong enough to break that tie and not care.

The ghost is a psychological construct. For others when starting a new idea, they start out from scratch and for a few start out from encouragement. For me, I have to fight off the ghost first and that is the difference.

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