Faking it.

Sometimes in life, you’re asked to fake it. We’ve all done it, haven’t we?  Today I got to thinking, how do you feel when you know you’re faking it?

Before you get all excited, I’m not talking about sex. I’m talking about work. How many of you have done a job at some time in your life where you’ve had to fake it?  I have. When I was at university I worked in a video games shop, and I had to fake enthusiasm for shoot ’em ups. That wasn’t so bad though. At the end of the day, the customers didn’t really care if I liked video games or not. What did matter was that what they bought was right for them. And that’s where I had a problem.  My manager wanted me to sell them extra memory cards, extra control pads, extra everything, regardless of whether or not they needed it. “Just tell them they need it”, he said.  I couldn’t do that.

Now, ten years later, I hear from a good friend in a similar situation. Only this time it’s a little more serious.  A lot of my friends are teachers of various kinds, in various countries, and you wouldn’t believe some of the stories I hear. A teacher is someone you should be able to trust, but what is that teacher to do when they’re asked to fake it?

Some companies only know how to focus on money. Personally, I think value for money is more important.  My friend has been asked to fake it – she’s been asked to teach something she knows nothing about, to students who believe she is an expert, or at least a trained professional. She is neither.

These students are hoping to go to university in another country. It’s their dream. They’ve paid a lot of money to take classes in order to pass the very important (and, I should add, expensive) test they have to pass in order to get into that university. She has to teach them how to pass. And in order to do that, she has to fake it.

She knows about as much about these tests as the students know. Perhaps less. She’s not even a qualified teacher, actually. She’s just a native English speaker with a degree which, shockingly, is enough to qualify her to… fake it.

So, how would you feel in that situation? Could you fake it? It’s only a job, after all.  Personally, I would have some moral issues with it. I think I could only fake it so far…

This post was part inspired by the fabulous Sex & The City (Season 3, Episode 14), so here’s a clip. I love Charlotte’s line at the end.  Perhaps my friend is thinking “my career is a fake Fendi“…

The settling gene…

I was walking home tonight, when I saw guy I know from work waiting at the bus stop.  Normally I would just say ‘hi’ and continue walking (I don’t know him so well), but he waved me over with a huge grin on his face.

“What’s up?”, I asked.

His reply was to show me his cell phone with a picture of his two-week old baby boy on it. (Last time I saw him, he was still expecting.)

I think I reacted appropriately. “Wow! So cute! Congratulations!”  That’s a normal reaction, right?

The thing is… I faked it.  Just as Miranda Hobbes fakes her sonogram in Sex and the City (Season 4, “Change of a Dress”), I faked my reaction to this guy’s baby.  I mean, yeah, it’s great news. And he was clearly thrilled. But it’s so hard to get excited about other people’s kids.

I’m definitely at that age where all my friends are buying houses, getting married and having babies (although not necessarily in that order!), and I can’t help wondering… is there such a thing as a ‘settling gene’?  And, if so, do I have one?

As a single girl in her (gulp!) late-twenties, living in rented accommodation, and doing a job which, let’s face it, probably isn’t a lifelong career, I really do feel worlds apart from most of my friends right now. But I have no maternal instinct urging me to settle down and procreate. I do want to buy a house someday, but I don’t know where I want to live yet. And I don’t know if I want to buy that house with someone, or go it alone.

Two of my co-workers are planning weddings right now, and two of my best friends back home got married last year.  Another of my friends back home is getting married really soon, and one of the best friends mentioned above is about to have her first baby. I’m thrilled for them all, I really am.  But I do find it hard to really be interested in it all when, honestly, I’m not. I’m mean, of course I’m interested in my friends and what they’re doing. But I’m not really interested in weddings and babies.

Is it possible that I am in fact just missing a gene? A gene which would make me dream of white weddings and storks?  I am romantic, and I’m not opposed to the idea of settling down (with the right person), but it doesn’t seem to be something I’m going to be doing this side of thirty. And if I do settle down, I really don’t think there will be any babies!

I don’t think I’m completely alone in this line of thought, though.  In fact, I’m reading a great book at the moment (The Group by Mary McCarthy), with this excellent line in it:

It was plain to Polly that many of her married classmates were disappointed in their husbands and envied the girls, like Helena, who had not got married.

Maybe I, like Helena, could seem to have an enviable life, at least to those who are unhappy with their own. I have no ties, from either a husband or a baby, which means I am able to live in a foreign country and basically do as I please. My free time is my own, my money is my own, my choices are my own.  I don’t really have to answer to anyone, and I’m free to change my mind, my hairstyle, and my sheets 😉 as often as I like.  Maybe I’m better off without the settling gene?

What do you think?

Lent: As good an excuse as any to give something up…

When I was a kid, I used to go to church.  I remember trying to give things up for Lent (the period from Ash Wednesday to Easter in Western Christianity).  The most successful time I remember was when I gave up some of my pocket money and then sent it to Shelter, a homeless charity.  I remember feeling very proud of myself for doing something good.

These days I’m not religious at all, but last night I was reminded (on Facebook, of all places) that it was Pancake Day (or, Shrove Tuesday) and that therefore Lent was next.  I had spent most of the day fretting about my weight and trying to figure out new dieting plans, without much success.  Suddenly, Lent seemed like the perfect chance, and just the excuse I had been looking for.

You see, I just don’t seem to have enough will-power at the moment to simply say “I’ll be good, I’ll diet”. I need more of a reason.  And what better reason than “I can’t eat that – I gave it up for Lent”?

So, why am I boring you with this post about dieting?  Well, as one of my friends pointed out to me on Facebook “how will we know if you cheat?”.  You won’t, of course.  You have to take my word for it.  But, how will I know if I cheat?  I figured I needed some rules to stick to, and sharing the rules with you might help me stick to them more, so here goes…

  • These rules apply from today, Wednesday 17th February until Easter, Sunday 4th April.
  • No Kit Kats – I can buy them and photograph them, but I can’t eat them!
  • No chocolate, biscuits, cakes, puddings, pastries. (Exception – a co-worker’s birthday is coming up and we always have cake. I’m allowed a very small bit, just to be sociable.)
  • No omiyage!  It’s a Japanese custom to share edible souvenirs whenever you go somewhere. As a result, my school is teeming with this ‘omiyage’, and we always have so much available to snack on.
  • I am allowed a maximum of one tall size Starbucks a week, so long as I ask for non-fat milk and no cream.
  • I am allowed to eat out with my friends as planned, but avoid dessert and try not to drink too much alcohol.
  • Eat lots of fruit.
  • Don’t buy ready-to-drink coffee from the convenience store – it’s loaded with calories!
  • Do my Davina McCall workout at least once a week.
  • Don’t go crazy when Easter comes…
  • Confess on this blog and on Facebook if I break any of these rules.

In theory, Lent could not only help me lose weight, it could help me save money, too.  My weight is not something I’m willing to share online, but I’ll record it for myself at the beginning and check it again at the end. Actually, I don’t much care what I weigh – it’s more about which clothes fit me.  I own two pairs of jeans right now. One pair is really tight and can give me a stomach ache if I wear them for too long. My aim is to be able to wear them comfortably by Easter.  So, watch this space…! 😉

"My Life List"

One rainy afternoon an inspired 15-year old boy named John Goddard sat down at his kitchen table in Los Angeles and wrote three words at the top of a yellow pad, “My Life List.” Under that heading he wrote down 127 goals.

These were not simple or easy goals. They included climbing the world’s major mountains, exploring from source to mouth the longest rivers of the world, piloting the world’s fastest aircraft, running a mile in five minutes and reading the entire Encyclopedia Britannica.

Now, a generation later, he has accomplished 109 of these quests, and has logged an impressive list of records in achieving them.

(Quote from: http://www.johngoddard.info)

Today I went to a meeting at my company’s head office.  Part of the meeting was about setting goals.  First, my trainer asked us “can you remember the goals you set when you first started at this company, on your very first day of training, when you had just arrived in Japan?”.  Only one of the ten or so people present could remember and actually had her list with her.  I made my list almost 22 months ago, and I have no idea what they were or where my list is.  I’m sure “improve my Japanese” would have been on there, though!

Next, my trainer said “reach as high as you can”.  We were sitting at this point, and I was the only person who stood up straight away (seemed obvious to me!).  Then he told us to try one more time, and then asked us “did you reach higher the second time?”.  We nodded.  “Why didn’t you reach that high the first time?  I told you to reach as high as you could”.  Interesting.

Then, my trainer told us about John Goddard, who I had never heard of before.  As you can see in the quote above, John started out as a 15-year old boy with big dreams.  Now, he is “the world’s greatest goal achiever”, and an actual paid adventurer!

You can see John’s list of 127 goals (of which he has achieved 109 so far) here: http://www.johngoddard.info/life_list.htm.  His goals are many and varied, but all thoroughly inspiring.  So inspiring, in fact, that I have decided to write my own list…

My list is here: http://muskett.wordpress.com/my-life-list/, and I will update it as and when I think of new goals (these 40 are just the first ones that spilled out of my head today!), and also when I have achieved goals I will cross them off and make a note in red.

I will aim to always reach as high as I possibly can! がんばります!:D