Dear Mister #1
To the Confidence We All Need
Today I’ll talk about my experience with Mr. C and Mr. K.
I went on a group hiking event hosted by Taiwanese Matchmaker in Silicon Valley and speed dated two gentlemen throughout the hike.
Let me start with Mr. C.
I reached out to Mr. C because I wanted to break the awkward silence between me and the man who stood next to me. While he reciprocated my outreach, the awkwardness lasted for a while. After a brief introduction, I was surprised by Mr. C’s self-deprecation. When I told him about my software engineering day job, he jokingly noted that his job is not as prestigious as mine. In the next moment he switched the conversation from Mandarin into English. The shift was abrupt and unexpected as we are both native Mandarin speakers. Perhaps, he noticed the “western” side of me and wanted to “blend in” by proving his English speaking skills. His confidence ebbed and flew throughout the conversation.
Critics aside, I did appreciate Mr. C’s willingness to have a good conversation, so I decided to ask him some curious questions and get to know him more.
Mr. C, why did you pursue a PhD in industry X?
“I’m interested in becoming a PM.”
Mr. C, what about PM attracted you?
“I’ll find out after I obtain a degree in MBA.”
But Mr. C, do you need yet another degree to find out what you want in your career? You probably should talk to Charlene from LivingOS…
Enough about Mr. C, let’s talk about Mr. K, shall we?
During lunch time, most of us have decided to grab some food from Paris Baguette. However, I noticed that Mr. K has quietly left the group and later came back with his own takeout. That gesture intrigued me because, unlike everyone else, he didn’t follow the norm. Plus, he didn’t bother to state his preference. He would rather just do it.
The surprise continued. I overheard another conversation when Mr. K introduced himself…
Mr. K: “My name is ____. I’m a software engineer working in Menlo Park.”
Someone: “Menlo Park? Is it Facebook?”
Mr. K: “No. I don’t understand why Facebook is the default answer when it comes to Menlo Park. I work at a nonprofit.”
Perhaps, he wanted to draw extra attention by being vague about his work. However, he was very soon disappointed by the response.
What a guy.
Group Dating Retro
Did I learn something new?
This experience reinforces the humble pattern in Asian culture. Mr. C fluctuated between humility and confidence while Mr. K masked his true self silently.
What am I feeling?
I was confused by the inconsistent impressions they managed to leave on me.
How does he change the story I tell myself?
Both Mr. C and Mr. K reminded me of my younger self. I struggled to have confidence and chose to keep my opinions to myself. They prompted me to reflect on what it takes to live the most authentic self.
Furthermore, I was just as judgmental as Mr. K and Mr. C. I struggled to forgive myself over “stupid” mistakes and am still practicing the lessons from Charlene’s article.
Can you replace self-criticism with self-acceptance?
I’ll publish weekly on Monday (sorry for the delay :P), subscribe to find out the next Dear Mr who inspired me greatly on confidence.
Enjoy your week,