“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”
For years I bitched and moaned about how I wanted to finally quit waitressing and get a real job. I fantasized about waking up early with purpose, listening to talk radio on my morning commute, having a fancy job title, and wearing cute outfits to work each day. Much better than wearing clothes infused with french fry grease, with pasta sauce dripping off my no-slip shoes, and being subservient to a bunch of asshole costumers. I mean I have a college education, I’m better than this – right?
After many attempts, I finally landed a great job as a Production Coordinator at a new company. How cool does that sound? Production Coordinator, ahh. I could feel my mom getting prouder by the moment.
The first week of my new job was great! I drank my coffee out of a travel mug, attended early morning meetings, contributed my thoughts on pressing issues, and came home at the end of the day feeling as if I’d accomplished something.
Then, I ran out of cute outfits and realized- hey wait a minute… this actually sucks ass.
I work a minimum of nine hours a day, usually more. I never see my family anymore and when I do I’m too tired to have any fun, and I’m not sure but I think I’m starting to get Secretary Spread (a.k.a. a fat ass!). Not only does my butt hurt, but my creativity has been sucked out of me. I’m suppose to be a writer, how can I write when I have three hours of time to myself before bed and the idea of any more sitting makes me want to curl up in the fetal position and die?
Not only is my new job draining and a giant time-suck, but now I have to go through life like everyone else. No more grocery shopping on Wednesday mornings and yoga in the afternoons. I went to the mall on Saturday and it took three Beyoncé songs just to find a parking spot!
This is what normal people do on the weekends? Grocery shop, laundry, and traffic? I always thought they went out on their boats and partied. Isn’t that why everyone’s always talking about how great it is that Friday’s almost here? Why are they so excited about the weekend if all they’re doing is running errands in the worst traffic possible?
Okay, so there were tons of cons to working this job: the mall on Saturdays, Secretary Ass, creativity sucking, and not to mention– I really missed my dog. Was waitressing really as bad as I’d made it out to be all those years?
I had a friend who quit acting, and thus, quit waitressing too– to become a scientist. She came into the bar I worked out several years later and told me she made more money when she worked with me at The Cheesecake Factory than she does as a scientist.
A mother fucking scientist!
Not only was the money better waiting tables, but I made it in one-third of the time than I did at my new job. Sure as a waitress I always worked weekends and missed parties, but I had time to be creative, see my friends (my waiter friends anyway), go on dates with my boyfriend and play with my dog– I had a life.
I was starting to realize that I’d been lucky all along. I actually loved my life the way it was- I was just too hung up on what I thought my life should look like at 30-something to enjoy what was right in front of me. Life’s too short… if I drop dead next week wouldn’t I be happier knowing that I’d only spent twenty hours a week at work rather than fifty?
So I did the only thing I could think of, I went crawling back with my tail between my legs and asked my restaurant boss if I could have my job back– the same job I’d quit a mere two weeks ago. It was a truly humbling experience. Luckily I hadn’t flipped everyone off and said, ‘F%$# You!’ when I originally quit. (two weeks notice is your friend, people). And, I’m a pretty good waitress– a touch snarky, but fast on my feet– so they took me back with open-ish arms.
The following day I went in to my ‘real job’ and sat at the morning meeting one last time as I doodled in my notebook ‘Last Day!’ and pretended to care about what my boss was saying. At the end of the day I quit a job for the second time in 2015. (Yes, I realize it’s still January.) I’m getting pretty good at this– also there’s no greater feeling than quitting a job you don’t like and celebrating afterwards with margaritas.
Even though I knew it was ego that had lead me down a path of unhappiness in the first place, I was still nervous to tell my friends and family that I’d just quit my fancy job before the end of the first pay period and I was going back to the same restaurant job I’d bitched about for the past four years. I was sure they’d think I was just being a whiny irresponsible baby, afraid of the real world, (which is only partially true) and equally afraid that my poor mom would die of emotional embarrassment when she had to tell people that her daughter, a college graduate, is back at it, cleaning up other people’s slop. As I braced myself for their criticism, I was stunned and overwhelmed by all their love and support. Every single one of them encouraged my decision to quit my ‘real job,’ pursue my art, and be happy. ‘Life’s too short.’
So now I’m going back to those dreaded no-slip safety shoes that I loathe and sucking up to dumb people who pronounce it “Mer-Lot”… only this time I’m okay with it. I realize that even though I’m covered in grease and ugly clothes, I get to go home at the end of the night and be with my family. I can write all day long and do my grocery shopping during non-peak times. I am truly thankful for this. Do I plan on waiting tables forever? Absolutely not. My feet can only take so much, but by doing it a while longer, I can give myself the time needed to let my passions lead me where I’m suppose to go. From now on, the grass is no longer greener on the other side, because I’m watering it on my side now.
Love this! I too decided to forgo a “real job” and became an esthetician instead. I have an odd schedule with slightly odd hours, and some of my friends with 9-5 jobs will say, “oh but isn’t it a bummer working Saturdays? Don’t you wish you hadn’t spent all of that money on a college education just to go to beauty school?” They never say these things with anything but curiosity, there’s no ill intent, but I always answer the same way- “nope!” We are all on a winding journey to get wherever we are going and if I hadn’t done things the way I did my life would be completely different now. And I like my life! Anyway, great post!
I LOVE your article! I am in a very similar boat (ok—maybe a raft that’s floating in a different current; but still, in the same water), and these words gave me hope. I want to be a writer/actor/improvisor but I have a degree in something totally different AND I am working a field that is unrelated, but I don’t mind not have a “professional, grown up” job while I work on my talents and crafts. THANK YOU for sharing!
Previously worked in education, corporate retail, catering and non-profit. I am fortunate to have found my current position working for a small independent retailer. I kept thinking to myself ‘it’s time to get back out there again and job hunt again for a real job.’ I’ve recently decided that am going to stay in this position for many reasons. The owner is excellent to all of the employees (who are all kind people), great work atmosphere, our opinion is valued, little to no on the job stress….I could go on but you get the idea. I like working Saturdays when I some of our best customers come in, we catch up and visit while they shop. It’s like a mini open house everyday! Who doesn’t like a party?
Thanks for sharing what you learned! So many people can’t/don’t go after what they really want to do because of the perceived expectations.