2.16.2017

Nobody Intimidates Baby: When Life Gives You Watermelons, Carry Them

Have you ever been told that you are intimidating? Better yet, have you ever been told that you are intimidating when you are the one who feels intimidated? Welcome to my work.
I'm about as much of a Baby-awkwardly-carrying-a-watermelon-through-a-pack-of-dirty-dancers as one can be when it comes to my current work situation this past year and a half, as an official cart-wielding, name-badge-wearing housekeeper in a privately-owned luxury retirement facility where I make life better for some outstanding (and very independent) members of the Greatest Generation.

From court reporter to housekeeper, that is me; and it is totally intimidating to work in a position where I am the only white American female who speaks English as her first language in the housekeeping department (and, no, I don't get paid more for the privilege of being white and speaking English). 

Seriously, now, how is being the minority in this situation not intimidating? 

I am an introvert on someone else's property, away from people I know, in a community where I do not feel I belong, doing a job I never imagined doing (nor was ever encouraged to do), following coercive OSHA mandates, and getting paid a wage well below the value of my work productivity; add to all of that, being a minority of one amongst a group of women who speak a common language, share a common culture, and communicate with ease to each other (when I am the one in my native land and home state). Call me a girl, but this is an intimidating situation. 

I mean, am I the only one who gets intimidated or scared when I have to stand alone, or go through a process alone, or learn something new alone; especially when there is a group of people around me who have already done it and now get to watch me awkwardly carry a watermelon across the dance floor? It's not embarrassing as much as it is intimidating and scary to be out of my comfort zones in so many ways at one time.

So, as a result of feeling intimidated, what do I do? I own the intimidation and project it back by playing the game my dad taught me in court reporting: The goal of the game is to make them believe that you know what you're doing. Thanks, dad! So that's what I do; I arm myself with enough confidence to believe that I can handle anything that comes my way, along with the wisdom to recognize when to defer to more experienced people for help. 

Granted, my confidence shifts from day to day, ebbing and flowing with the changing tides in my mind, between self-doubt and self-confidence; and, boy, if that doesn't make life more exasperating at times than is necessary.

But I do get it though; as an English-speaking, natural American citizen who knows her legal rights better than most and doesn't appear scared to speak up (even though she is more scared than anyone will ever know), I appear intimidating due to the confidence I project....all 5-foot-4-inches, 120 pounds of petite little me (who is actually the giant of the housekeepers!).

The fact is that confidence can be intimidating even when it is being faked, and that is what is so amusing about being told by my boss that I am intimidating, because I am faking to compensate for how intimidated I am by everything around me! Nobody intimidates Baby.

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