The little waitress.
Most people who know me, know that I worked in hospitality for a number of years. Running food, washing dishes, making drinks and taking orders – the usual front-of-house/all-rounder duties. Although I enjoyed hospitality for it’s fast-pace and it’s people, I could not be creative. I could neatly arrange table decor, fold pizza boxes and garnish fresh smoothies (I LOVED doing these tasks), but I could not pour beautiful latte-art for the life of me. One reason was that I lacked training, and the other was that the year I tried latte-art, was the year I knew something finally needed to change. Instead of creativity, I focused on building rapport with customers, doing my best to ensure they enjoyed their experience wherever I worked (I have previously worked in cafes, restaurants, clubs).
At home, I loved to cook, draw, watch creative videos about food, dance and culture. As each year passed by, I realised that most of my time was spent at work or school – so I needed to find an environment that allowed creativity and connection.
Most people like myself have to do what needs to be done (work in an industry they no longer see themselves in), to get through life. Whether it’s rent, bills, family or car-payments, we all have responsibilities. Because of this, our values don’t always line-up with our day-jobs.
The art of applying for jobs.
When I made the decision to apply for a retail job, I had been actively looking for work for about 12 months. I wasn’t expecting a call-back, to be honest. I found it difficult to stay positive.
Toward the end of the year, I finally received 2 call-backs: 1 for administration work and 1 for retail. Although I tried to practice interview questions, I did not do well at the administration interview. The retail interview on the other hand, felt like a much more natural conversation – despite my nervousness. I did my best and felt like it was actually enough.
About a week or so later, I was offered the job and immediately started training! YAY! There were new processes and many new people I met. I was transitioning in the workforce. I still worked shifts at my other jobs for financial stability, but I was on the way!
New job, new me.
When I started working in the store, it was a bunch of shambles. Christmas was around the corner and customers were shopping in droves. I felt like a fish out of water.
As time went on, I felt more comfortable, styling customers, finding out what look they were after, and even styling myself like I used to in high school – freely and creatively! I’ve noticed that retail is more of a relaxing environment compared to hospitality. Customers are kind and building rapport comes naturally. Women have shared their sad and joyful stories with me – something I find quite moving.
Now I am excited to go to work, thinking of new ways I could wear items, finding the balance between practical and stylish. Some days, I just want to wear sneakers and a hoodie, but I have yet to find the perfect ones… so far, what I love about retail is that I can change and progress creatively. Hospitality was an industry I was doing well in, but retail is where I currently excel.
Where do I belong?
A conversation with a past manager, reminded me that sometimes we must find where we belong. It’s important to work with people that share the same values and act accordingly. Back then, I experienced many obstacles where values weren’t shared and I suffered because of that.
According to a SEEK survey, 74% of respondents believe their job has a significant influence on their overall quality of life and 71% say it also affects the emotional states of those closest to them.
Personally, I found myself feeling more frustrated, tired and drained from working in an industry where values no longer aligned. My boyfriend noticed my increasing irritability and emotional instability.
Although I learned so much and made many friendships in hospitality, I am grateful I made this change.
Now, I rarely feel fatigued and feel supported and encouraged where I work.
I’m not saying, “Up and quit your job!”. I’m saying, if you have noticed your mood, mental and physical wellbeing on the decline, reflect on your life. Is it a lack somewhere in your diet, or lack of exercise? Is it a personal issue you could see a professional about – doctor/counsellor/psychologist? Is it your work environment: do you feel valued and supported?
At a workshop I recently attended, the organiser said “People don’t leave jobs, they leave managers.”
I have worked with amazing, supportive managers and even got along with many higher-ups. However, a few times throughout my work-life, I’ve found this statement to be true. It’s important for owners, managers and employees alike, to check-in with themselves for the benefit of the company and their own lives.
Have you found where you belong? If not, what small steps can you take to work on it?
For example, listing your strengths and incorporating those into everyday life. Or starting a hobby for your own mental and physical wellbeing.
It’s all a learning journey. Start where you are.