On impression management

I think I already did a review of August, but in the last week of August I got officially transferred to CBP. Things have changed hahaha.

Grateful for:

  • The opportunities I have now to learn from the client’s perspective, how IT systems are rolled out and what is involved in the end to end procurement processes.
  • The people- because of the nature of project work in my company, I would say that I only see about 30% of the team on a regular basis, and that is purely for project work. I think C and A have been at CBP for the past six months, and talking to them- finding out about their motivations, their past projects, how they approach problems and their own life experiences- has been very motivating. Because I am reminded that the work might be tough but I have one thing that a lot of other associates in another big 4 don’t have- great people. I don’t know how the company managed to hire so many nice and genuine people. Of course, not all are like that, some can be quite competitive, but the ones I’ve clicked with so far are really good people.
  • I was thinking about my happiest moments in the past two months. I like the team meetings where we actually solve problems (and not give people updates on what has been happening in my life etc), I like the feeling of singing “if I am a fuzzy wuzzy bear, then I thank God for my fuzzy wuzzy hair” and doing the accompanying actions during toddlers’ class.
  • I like the volunteering opportunities so far, and I really like the food in the CBD area, although pricey. And I love the writing- I get to write emails and draft newsletters. I also like the fact that I have a salary and I can pay for my own bills. To ask myself questions like “what is true for you, what makes your heart smile, when do you feel most yourself?” made me realise that it is not consulting work that I want to dedicate my life to. It is just impact. And the complexity of work that doesn’t bore me, because each project is new.

With regards to impression management, I am over it. On the Thursday before I left for Indonesia, the bible passage that the company’s cell group (God’s grace, we couldn’t get into the smaller room that we originally booked and were allocated a room that was just vacated, which could fit everyone in nicely- if we were in the smaller room we would probably have to squeeze and stand at the door) was about how we should not exalt ourselves and how we should be humble, because we should not be seeking the validation of other people. It does not matter if we have all the money and prestigious awards in the world if we do not have God’s grace in us.

Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place.10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

-Luke 14, ESV

I admit that I was worried until I spoke to A (met him at DBS), he told me that I just need to do well on my current projects, even if I’m only on 30-40% utilisation. And J, met him at the cell group last week, he told me that he charged the first six months to BD (which is 0% utilisation for 6 months) and he still got promoted and is travelling frequently. As I am writing this, he is in Myanmar. As A and C puts it, fifty percent of impression management is luck. There will always be people who don’t like you, and some of them might even tell you that directly. It doesn’t mean that you should change your behaviour just because someone said something about you.

But this isn’t a blanket statement to say that I can ignore all consequence and do whatever I want- I still need to work hard, and be respectful towards others. But if anyone (who is at an associate level) tells me that I have to “get on paid work because it is how the company measures revenue”, and I know that the projects that I’m working on does not have a budget for my time, and that resourcing is currently an issue within the unit- I am not going to justify myself or be concerned that other people are viewing me as a consultant who does not have a 100% utilization rate. You can be utilised fully, but still not get promoted. You can be charging 20% for a month, and work 70-80 hour weeks.

For me, not liking a person and not liking what a person is doing at a particular moment or a particular action, is very different. I will always try to love people- that feeling that we are all in the same boat-

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

It doesn’t matter if they are Christians or non-Christians, it only matters that we are humans and as humans we come with our own set of idiosyncrasies, our mess-ups, our troubles, the dreams that die over time. Our sacrifices that we keep to ourselves and those blips in an otherwise uneventful day. Good times and bad times for all of us, none of us are immune to sickness or relationships that break down. As my friend reminds me, it is just work. It is nothing much to worry about, work is a rubber ball that will bounce back after every sabbatical and it will be as if I never left. So what do I want to do in the meantime? What do I want to do with my life? How can I not let time slip away.

The stories we tell others about ourselves might not be the stories that we tell ourselves. For example, I have been telling myself to get a writing portfolio together for the past…I think, year? But I have never done so. I only upload my rambles sometimes, or send emails to friends about the new fat cat on my estate. I have never tried writing a series of essays on some illuminating thought, like how the rain falls on the ground and how it reminds me of the orange-purple sunset. Or something equally poetic, like vegetarian pot stickers and fried hot dogs.

As each day goes by, when I dump my belongings on the floor of my room after work, when I am reminded of how tired I am, I can feel my thoughts getting sanded down by life. If that even makes sense. They are just less deep and a lot more practical. Like “how am I going to reply him” and “what am I going to eat for lunch later”. And I sit next to one of the floor-to-ceiling glass windows at the staff canteen, looking at the beautiful view of the neighbouring carpark, and looking at how the cars play tetris with one another. Wondering to myself if there will be rain later and if the rain will be heavy enough to wash away the dust and ill-humour of the people here.