Bust that box

In case you haven’t read any of my previous posts, let me preface this one briefly. I was a shy, quiet, anxious misfit who didn’t get much support in my younger days. I’m not shy anymore, and only sometimes quiet.  If I’m ever a misfit, it’s by choice, for the most part. ha ha

So, I know what it’s like to be excluded, and I know what it’s like to be a peer. It’s not an easy transition, or a short one. It’s also hard to know when it’s complete. Maybe it’s a lifetime process.

What’s most important is how you see yourself. You need to have that down before you can change your place in the world around you. Actually, that may not even be the right way to look at it. Instead of changing your place in the world, change the world around you so it fits you. Wow! I gotta write this down. Oh, yeah, just did. I need to let that one sink in.

Okay, so, you feel like you’ve been put in a box: he’s the shy, quiet guy.  She’s not cool. They’re weird. You’re bitter, defensive, blah, blah, blah. These are traits that end up defining you, if you let them. And then, others continue to try and define you that way even after you’ve changed.

Some look down on you, others just avoid you because they feel uncomfortable around you. Well-meaning friends or family speak for you, take you for granted. People just expect you to keep being the same person, not seeing the positive change within you. Those are the confines of the box.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at some ways to break through the walls of the box. In the meantime, do a little building inspection.  What are the walls made of? And who built them? Other people, or yourself?

 

Background image created by Kstudio – Freepik.com

Things I learned from my cats

What matters most is how you see yourself. That’s the lesson in a nutshell.  I touched on this a little in my post titled, “A Better Day”.

I’m coming at the topic from a different angle, observing my cats.  My five year old cat, Smokey doesn’t know how big he is.  He’s a bit skittish and shy. He climbs up on my chest to cuddle.  (A lap isn’t good enough.) When he does that, I have to put down my laptop, or else he walks on the keyboard and, invariably, messes things up.  (For example, he once deactivated the keyboard. It took till the next day to figure out that you could still hit shift + enter to get it back, though it seemed like nothing on the keyboard was working. Another time, he turned the screen display 90°.  I didn’t even know you could do that.  I was able to go into the display menu and turn it back from portrait to landscape, though it remains a mystery how he did it with just the keyboard.)  Also, I can barely see the TV over him when he’s sitting on me.

Enter Rex the much smaller, younger little guy my brother and I adopted about a year ago.  Rex is a sweetheart and after about ten days, Smokey accepted him and they get along nicely now.  However, Rex is a little troublemaker at times, picking on the gentle giant, Smokey.  It’s only in play, but he gets a little carried away and makes his house mate squeal sometimes.  Then we have to separate them and scold Rex, sometimes even close him in a room for a while.  The thing is, Smokey could easily kick Rex’s ass.  He has learned to assert himself, and the problem has slowly gotten better.  So, I guess Smokey gets to a point where he’s had enough.

I share these feline antics as a way of relating my own experiences.  I was shy and timid in school, and socially awkward.  Add to that my rather small stature, and you’ve got an easy target for teasing.

Like Smokey, I didn’t realize how big I was.  Not physically, but intellectually, emotionally, and personality speaking. I was blessed with a brilliant mind, a bright and generous heart, and a lovable, witty, fun spirit.  None of this came out until young adulthood.  I started coming out of my shell somewhat the last two years of high school, but was still kind of a lost puppy.  (Awww)  It’s okay. It got better.

Today, I still come across as reserved, and social anxiety does hold me back until I get to know people better, but the shyness and the fear are gone.  Physical lack of energy is a problem at times too, with sleep apnea and Crohn’s disease, but caffeine helps.  ha ha

I don’t resent any of the teasing I took in school because it actually did help push me to change. I realized after getting my associate’s degree in my early 20’s that I had played right into the teasing, making it all to easy. (Not saying it was my own fault.  Just saying I could have changed things.) I was also very alone in my two years at community college, for all the same reasons.  I had no problems with the intellectual aspects at all, but yet was completely burned out at the end.  It made me start analyzing.  Why was it so hard? To quote John Donne, “No man is an island”. I needed a support system. How does one build something you’ve never known? Where to start….

An epiphany came one day at the mall.  Maybe some of you remember the mall store called Deck the Walls.  They sold art and photo prints and the like.  I saw a small matted picture of a kitten looking into a mirror.  The text read “What matters most is how you see yourself”.  Reflected in the mirror, is a lion.  It really struck home, so I took it home.  I mean, after I paid for it, of course. I still have it as a reminder.

It made me see more clearly than ever how one’s persona is perceived by others as a reflection of your own inner image.  Confidence, satisfaction, contentment, happiness.  All things I lacked, therefore did not project.  What I got back from others was a direct correlation to what I was carrying and exuding, or not.

I was just coming into my own in my late 20’s when I hit some health problems.  Getting to work became all-consuming and I eventually had to take a break from it.  Then, I didn’t get much social contact, but things are going much better now.  I sometimes feel like I end up being put in that old “box”, where he’s the shy, quiet guy.  Or, my anxiety makes me feel uncomfortable and pushes people away.  (Nobody likes to feel uncomfortable.) The good news is, I feel like I’m ready to Bust That Box! (I believe I found the topic of my next post.)

Til then, keep going and keep growing!

A better day

Tonight I felt really good after work.  I was busy with customers for the first half of my shift and still got a few things done.  Then, I had a cashier for the second half of the shift, so I was able to stay away from the register and get work done.  I hate how, when you’re trying to do things, people keep coming in and picking up items and taking them to the counter.  Then they want you to bag it and give you money for it.  It’s like it’s a store or something.

(Slightly) kidding aside, I busted ass and, while I hope it is acknowledged tomorrow when the manager and other assistant manager see what I did, I’m good with my own feeling of satisfaction.  That is what motivates me most.  Though, I can’t help thinking that raise time is just a couple months away  😉   That’s after we have inventory in January.

After my last rant, er, post, I have to say that the store didn’t look too bad tonight.  It wasn’t a super busy day, but it wasn’t dead either.

In other news, I asked to transfer to another store last week.  Not out of dissatisfaction in where I’m at, but to move to a tougher store to challenge myself, start fresh, and continue to grow as a person and a manager.  I was told today that the DM (district manager) has said he doesn’t want to break up a good team at my store.  We are a good team, but based on past dealings with him, I suspect that the real reason is he doesn’t think I can handle the tougher store.

I’m not going to argue the point if I end up staying where I’m at.  The raise I’d get wouldn’t be all that significant, but the job would be a lot more challenging (hassle).  As mentioned above, I’m due for a raise soon anyway.

I arrive belatedly at the gist of this post: how you present yourself is how others will perceive you.

I’ve come a very long way over the years from painfully shy and timid to at least an average degree of outgoingness, with many moments of being downright outgoing, friendly, and even bold.  You have to be bold when you work in retail.  For example, you have to be bold enough to check out a return item in front of the person as they tell you there’s nothing wrong with it.  Then call them out if they’re up to no good.  Like the lady who tried to return laundry detergent because the scent was too strong.  The jug was used up and refilled with water.  Needless to say, I didn’t issue any refund or credit.

Having said that, I have work to do yet with displaying assertiveness, being decisive and in charge.  Those who work with me one on one, see the improvements I’ve made and the great potential I have.  (Well beyond the job.)  But the district manager doesn’t really work with me directly.  I have little interaction with him.  He only knows that I was very quiet and reserved when I was first hired and part of the team that set up the new store – from an empty building to open for business in 10 days.  The DM was around a lot then, but only at our store once a week after that.  I’ve always tended to be reserved at first until I get to know people.  Another thing I’m working on.

So, I’m not all that disappointed that I probably won’t be making a move right now.  Nor am I angry that someone is not seeing my ability.  I understand where it’s coming from, for the most part.  That’s not to say that I’m not a little mad.  I guess I’m realizing I didn’t want it that much after all.  Way to be decisive, eh?  Yeah, there’s no love lost between me ant the DM, but the best next step is finding new challenges elsewhere that compensate better for your efforts.  A fair day’s wages for a day’s work.  Something that is ever more elusive.  That’ll be the topic of another day’s post.