I WAS SITTING INSIDE A COFFEE SHOP, a couple of Sundays ago, waiting for my friend to arrive. I had just started my new job in the same company we met three years ago, when she was a shy 22 year-old girl without any experience. She’s in a management position now. I’m starting over in a different building across town. As I was waiting for her I couldn’t help but thinking how sad I was because I wasn’t doing as well as I thought I was going to. I thought: If she made it, I could make it too, but I didn’t really believe it. A few days before this encounter, I told her I was discouraged, during a short texting session, and I, for some reason, expected her to provide moral support and tell me I’m good and that I will succeed if I work harder. She didn’t. She said that maybe I could try next time.
Nothing in this world awakens more curiosity in me than wondering what everyone thinks of me. Not because I’m insecure or because I need people’s approval of anything. But because — as I’ve talked about before — I feel they don’t really see me, and they just see what they want to see.
When I was at work the other day, I overheard someone from management praising somebody else and how happy they would be to have their help to train new employees. I’ve been in this business for the last 3 years, in different companies. It was October, 2014, in my first week in training that I knew I wanted to become a trainer. I quit. I got another job. Then another one. And now I’m back in this company. Much happier and much more focused and determined than before. It’s been less than two months since this line of business started and everyone is hungry for growth, because there is, in fact, great growing opportunities coming in the next few months as this is a brand new account with new people getting hired until every cubicle is filled.
I walked through that door the first day bowing to myself that I would do it right this time. That I would shine my light, because this time is gotta be good, (Hollywood, Madonna). I know I’m really good at thinking I’m not good enough and I’m good at sabotaging myself, so I knew from the start that this was never meant to be easy. This time around I’ve managed to skim a lot of self doubt and self deprecation off me. I’ve been disciplined. I’ve been more extroverted on purpose. I’ve put a foot out of my tiny bubble for once, willingly. Because I haven’t got much (more) time to waste, it’s time to make my way, (Jump, Madonna).
I’m a 32 year-old man who hasn’t amounted to anything in life and I’m scared that Gwen Stefani is right in What You Waiting For? urging me with the words: “Your moment will run out ‘cause of your sex chromosome.” And the second I question my lack of skills, she shrugs and fires back with “Who really cares, ‘cause it’s your life,” and forces me to snap out of the self inflicting hand-tying with “Take a chance you stupid hoe.”
I can really make myself feel better about myself. I can make myself believe I could amount to something and that I could be good at it. But what I cannot do is to make everyone stop overlooking and underestimating me.
If I’ve worked out my self-esteem pretty much all my life to the point I can confidently state that my self-confidence is healthy enough, everyone around, including my own mother and my friends, do a really impeccable work remaining me of what I’m not and why I’m just a weak link. In the words of the trainer I had in my previous job: “I always knew Charlie was my weak link.” Hearing that felt like a bucket of cold water and ice was thrown violently over my head, because I genuinely thought I was his strongest trainee. I guess I was just delusional.
Let me cover your shit in glitter / I can make it gold / Gold / I needed you to please give my reflection a break from the face it’s seeing now. (Consideration, Rihanna)
Delusional. Here’s something else I’ve just discovered I’m afraid of. I’m afraid I’ve walked around the hallways and the production floors of these companies being totally delusional. What if I am delusional? What if I’m the only one thinking I could be a trainer, or successfully occupy a management position, eventually. What if they don’t see in me what I see in me, because they can see right through me, and I’m just delusional? I don’t know. I just don’t know. Quite honestly, I’m afraid to ask and hear exactly what I don’t want to hear. “You know what, Charlie — said someone to me once — the reason why you hear things you don’t want to hear is because you ask too many questions.”
Granted. I am not very smart. I am not one of the best at my job. And I could use a lot more self-confidence. But I want it. I not only want it, but I’m sure I need it more than any of my coworkers. It’s not a job for me. It would be my “You shut your mouth. How can you say I go about the things the wrong way?” to myself.
I understand most people see me like an air-head. They’ve said it to my face. “Charlie, you really are a bubblehead,” someone once said. “Charlie, you remind me of Karen, from Mean Girls,” said my favorite gay friend after knowing me for a year. “You’re stupid,” stated a guy I once dated, after realizing I wasn’t kidding about not knowing anything about politics and current world events, and instead invested my time idolizing Madonna and Britney Spears, and that I thought the new shirts I saw at Zara were more important than whatever was going on with the Sandinistas in this country. But if Elle Woods made it to Harvard in Legally Blonde, and became a lawyer, I can make it to the training room, and become a trainer. I mean, Stevie Wonder plays the piano, doesn’t he?
I never forget the moment Elle Woods realized she was underestimated, “I’m never going to be good enough for you, am I?” she asked her boyfriend when he dumped her in the hopes he’d eventually marry the kind of girl a Harvard law graduate would, not perky, silly Elle. I’m never going to be good enough for you, you guy I dated, you cool and hip friend, you judgmental stranger, you mother, you father, and most importantly, you Charlie, am I?
I am the son, and the heir, of a shyness that is criminally vulgar / I am the son and the heir of nothing in particular / You shut your mouth / How can you say I go about the things the wrong way / I’m a human and I need to be loved / Just like everybody else does / When you say it’s gonna happen now, when exactly do you mean? / See, I’ve already waited too long, and all my hope is gone. (How Soon Is Now?, performed by t.A.T.u.)
It’s been 15 years since I’ve heard that song. I was still in high school, thinking how soon was it until I dared to put an end to my pain. Wondering if I would ever feel valued. If I would ever be good enough. Future seemed so uncertain then. Everything is different now, but nothing’s changed. I still wish I was a ‘normal guy.’ I still think about dying as my happy ending. Only happy because not existing is better than dealing with myself. “You can’t imagine — I once cryed to my mother one night I couldn’t bare my anxiety — what it’s like living inside my head.”
I don’t get cheers from anyone. I don’t get encouraged. I don’t have a single person believing in me. I’m the one who has to do all the cheering up and all the moral support for myself because no one else will. It’s sad. I’m haunted by terrible decisions and I’ve wasted my youth. I’m still a child at heart. A child whom desperately desires to be taken seriously before the last of my youth slips out of my hands, and because I am not just a sex-obsessed air-head who only wants to party.
I got to do things my own way, darling / Will you ever let me? / Will you ever respect me? / No / Do things my own way darling / You should just let me / Why you ain’t never let me grow? (Consideration, Rihanna)
How soon is now? Should I just give up already? I mean, should I give up more than I already have and go with the flow, instead of pursuing things I cannot have, or try to become something I will not be? Will I ever get some respect and consideration?