How Being the “Chip Bitch” Helped Uncover my Confidence

Photo by Dan Counsell on Unsplash

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.

This is a reminder to myself and now, to you, that no matter what has happened in the past, that does not define your future.

5 Ways to Honour Your Inner Child

What is inner child work?

Commonly, inner child work is associated with trauma and overcoming traumatic experiences.

As adults, unresolved trauma can manifest through our behaviour. For example, if we experienced trauma relating to neglect or loneliness and a plan doesn’t go our way (in adulthood), we may burst into tears or scream or stomp. It is not our adult-self, but maybe our 6 year old self acting out.

On the other hand, inner child work can help us come back to the joyous, innocent and even playful aspect of ourselves.

This is why inner child work is so important for healing and moving forward.

5 ways to honour your inner child

1. Find professional, medical and mental health support

If you have come to realise that you may be experiencing unresolved childhood trauma, seeking a professional can be a safe way to heal and process.

Often therapy and counselling allows us the space and time to truly tune into our emotions and past memories.

By doing this, we can begin to get to the root of the problem and over time, we can heal.

2. Write a letter to your inner child

The goal here is to embrace the joy and innocence we had in the past. Acknowledging this aspect of ourselves can be an affirming experience.

What you felt back then, still matters now. As adults, we may down play our emotions but it is important to honour them.

To this day, I write letters (well, emails) to my future self. That way I can see how far I’ve come from the year before.

Letting our inner child know that we hear them and acknowledge their pain can shift you from thinking in pain to healing and rebuilding.

3. Be the adult you needed as a child

If you needed safety or stability back then, have you been striving for that in adulthood?

Does your life now meet your inner child’s needs?

If not, what can you do in a small or drastic way to achieve that?

It could be as simple as going back to things you enjoyed as a child: drawing, colouring or watching an animated movie.

Get in touch with who you were before the trauma. Embrace the joy, the innocence and curiosity.

For me, safety and stability are a large driving force behind why and how I function as an adult. I strive for a life that is stable emotionally, financially and mentally. I strive for a life that is safe in the sense of being free from violence, toxic arguments and an unsafe living environment.

This will always be an ongoing process, because life circumstances can change (and has changed) in an instance.

4. Speak to your inner child

It may seem really strange so stay with me on this! It can actually be a powerful way to heal and move forward.

Find a place in your home (or within the walls of a therapeutic practice if that is safest).

Imagine meeting your younger self.

Short phrases like, “I hear you” or “I see you” can be powerful when it comes to inner child work.

It can also be unnerving if you’ve never done this before. Alternatively, writing a letter like I mentioned above can be substituted for this activity.

5. Know that it wasn’t your fault

Experiencing trauma as a child is not your fault. Accept this fact and remind yourself if you forget.

You can even create a private blog or write that affirmation somewhere as a reminder.

Inner child work can be rather confronting and we may have the tendency to feel shame or embarrassment for the way we act or even acted when we were a child. That’s okay.

Trust in the process of healing and take it one step at a time.

Healing takes time

Until my early 20s, I was not wholeheartedly aware of childhood trauma or the fact that unresolved trauma can manifest in adulthood in powerful ways.

Once I started seeing a counsellor, I knew that this was a journey that would take years to process and heal from.

Despite the tears, shame and anger that bubbled to the surface, it has all been worth it.

To this day, I’m glad I started this journey. I’ve learned so much not just about myself, but about how supportive my loved ones are and have been.

Life isn’t all rainbows and sunshine and we may experience pain, heartbreak, abuse, loneliness or disappointment. Regardless, know that you are worthy of healing and that it is possible to overcome.

Photo by Chinh Le Duc on Unsplash

*This blog provides general information and discussions about mental health and related subjects. The information and other content provided in this blog, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be taken as medical advice. It is not a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.