The Foundation of Low-self Esteem
Growing up, I enjoyed reading and spending my time alone. Don’t get me wrong — I still had fun at friends’ parties and loved travelling. But being a homebody came naturally!
Once I started working at age 15, my confidence and self-esteem was quite low. Although I loved to try new things, eat different food and meet new people, a part of me was wounded and festering.
Like most people, certain moments in my life left an impact on me. Unfortunately, it was unresolved until my 20s. These traumatic experiences manifested as anger, sadness and avoidance. Mostly avoidance. At all costs.
Although I was doing okay at my job, I often felt dumb for making a mistake. If a manager was explaining why I was wrong, I felt an urge to stand up for myself. A rebellious streak was shining through and I didn’t know why I felt that way. Under immense pressure, I often fought back by doing my job quickly or I felt like crying. It was a balancing act most times!
Fast-forward to a new job, being trained on fryers. It had been a few months of cross-training in all sections (POS System, grill, burger building, running). The day had finally come to open the store.
As patrons filled the restaurant, I could feel the familiar “fight-back” feeling again.
However, the more dockets that came up, the less I could keep a handle on my anxiety. For some reason, I couldn’t fight back. I was drowning.
One of the supervising managers took one look at me and immediately dropped what he was doing.
The Aha Moment
This particular manager was from another city and was asked to train us as he had enough experience to do so. He was full of energy and confidence.
This manager looked at me and said, “It’s alright. Let’s break this down and see what you need to drop in these fryers.”
I nodded, not believing I could do what was coming next.
He made his way through the kitchen in a few swift movements and read aloud the next orders.
I told myself that I’d be damned if I couldn’t at least try.
When he returned, I was dropping baskets according to what he’d said. I apologised for being nervous.
He told me not to apologise. He explained his own steps when the orders were racking up.
In this moment, I realised that if I could think of it in a simple way, it was no longer overwhelming. I could hear a pin drop. It was like in the movies, how the hero knew it was up to them and they saw everything in slow motion.
That was the moment for me.
Of course instead of a “hero”, I was a food server. And instead of saving people, I was serving people their food.
Instead of thinking “I need to have 50 orders ready”, I thought, “I need 1 order now”.
My manager noticed that my pace picked up.
“There you go! Don’t ever feel bad about asking for help. And remember, if things aren’t working, make a change.”
“If things aren’t working, make a change.”
That quote has stuck with me through the years. It is solid advice I use today in my decision-making.
The rest of the opening went really well. My team and our trainers were happy with the turn out and everyone’s effort.
The wind-down began, and it was well-deserved. We all knew the next few months would be crazy, but not impossible to get through.
Confidence Is Here And She’s Beautiful
Months passed, and I was able to cut service wait time by 50%. Being the chip bitch wasn’t bad after all.
I served over 300 people in my time at this restaurant. I packed over 2000 chip orders in 12 months.
Isn’t it funny what we learn in unsuspecting places? I would never have guessed that — in a restaurant, buzzing with patrons and the smell of burger patties grilling — I would understand what self-belief meant.
During this time, I also started working on resolving childhood trauma in my personal life. It was an uphill battle.
The difference? I now believed in myself. I knew that my skills in customer service and kitchen were good enough.
I didn’t feel bad about asking for help. I didn’t feel dumb for making mistakes.
I will never forget that moment from years ago. I believed in myself because someone believed in me.