May 08, 2021
5 mins read
For many years I worked as a waitress. Most of that time I enjoyed and was spent in a Belgian bar/restaurant where we used to serve awesome beer. Blonde, dark, fruity - SO many kinds of beer. (The Belgians are famous for having over 350+ types. The place I worked in more than 5 years was a Belgian cafe in Canterbury (UK) with English owner and he prouded himself with having over 100 types of beer to offer to his customers. It was pretty cool. I enjoyed the Fruli strawberry beer which was delicious and not too strong for me, only 4.1% alcohol. I have a dear friend who sampled a cherry beer there which has 13% alcohol. That was tasty and heady, a bit too much for me. But I digress.) A few other years (shorter periods) I spent in cafes and restaurants with different menus and people.
Overall, it was nice providing a service and getting paid for it. I did it while I was at university and I did it after I finished university. I needed the money and the experience as I was finding my way in life. I'm sure many of you reading this can relate, in some form or another.
In the last few years of working as a waitress (2017/2018), I noticed, however, that I was getting bitter, anxious and sad often. It wasn't only that I wasn't 100% happy with what I was doing or that I was not enjoying the time spent with some of my colleagues for various reasons (my fault or theirs). There were great times - yes, even when working 14 hours shifts and finishing at 2 in the morning sometimes - and not so great times.
It was becoming increasingly apparent to me that there was no meaning in the work I was doing, or rather not the meaning that I was after - the one meaning that I valued and respected the most. Sure, there are plenty of benefits in helping others enjoy their time and providing them with a good service. That is something I learnt that will always be valuable, no matter the kind of work I will do.
But I wanted to write and be an author, hopefully bring joy to people, give myself time to look at the world and think from different perspectives and put that in stories in my own way.
More than anything, I felt I was wasting valuable time which I will never recuperate or account for. There were hours, and days, and months, and years taken from my life which I felt were going down the drain as the energy was sucked from my being. Instead of learning and practicing to improve my craft - my storywriting - (f ex) I was spending numerous hours trying to memorise
how many ingredients and in exactly what order they were put in each of the burgers (in the case of one particular restaurant those burgers would change periodically and the business required us to know such details),
what ingredients can cause allergies and even death to people (and let's just say that can be quite stressful because a horrible mistake could even land one in prison),
figuring out how I could take time off so I could spend at least a day away relaxing without being an inconvenience to others (not having a fixed schedule until the last minute is a bummer when you depend on others), etc.
Maybe it sounds like complaining or moaning to you (and maybe some of it actually is that). Although working in a restaurant is mostly repetitive and easy work, it also has its challenges, as any other job, just saying.😅
Things were falling apart, inside and outside, and not for the right reasons. There was no creative destruction for a cool rebirth, it felt just like a plain and purposeless destruction.😓
So I started to focus even more on what I wanted to do with my life, and how I was going to do it, even if it meant being quite 'poor' for long periods.
In a way, this can be seen as egoistical, especially if other individuals depend on choices such as the ones I made at the time. Do I regret making them? No.
There is a difference between doing something just because it's what makes you happy
doing something else because it's meaningful to you.
Finding meaning in that, and accepting to live frugal yet fullfilled knowing you're doing (or attempting to do) something that will last and won't be thrown away in the rubbish at the end of the day, something that maybe will positively impact many people, help change their lives for the better, help them tell a great story, that requires sacrifice - meaningful sacrifice.
Doing something meaningful or not is, in my opinion, given my experience, the difference between life and death, for many people.
So, whatever you do, please keep this quote in mind. I know I am. No matter where I will be in life, whatever 'job' I'll be doing, I know what the goal is and I will strive for it, no matter what.
"It's a luxury to pursue what makes you happy; it's a moral obligation to pursue what you find meaningful."
– Jordan B. Peterson
PS: I didn't plan for this post to be so long. I will return to regular 'just a quote a day' (or at least not so long posts) from tomorrow.😊