I’ve been struggling all day. It was my first (and last) day at a fast food restaurant that I was originally optimistic about. It didn’t take long for the red flags to pile up however. The morning crew wasn’t even ready for me, I had no uniform and they didn’t have one for me, so I ended up in a shed trying to help find one of “the old ones”. And within the first hour, I was ringing by myself with no help when I needed it because the person training me was running between me and the drive thru. There were a few health safety flags that went up (like the cashier touching hash browns with no gloves and the lack of hand washing regulations). I was already stressed, not because it was busy (my previous jobs were far busier) but because I was here for training but was being treated as a regular employee. The big red flags were regarding the breaks, which I was told they don’t offer. Yet there I stood, watching two shift leaders rotate their breaks.
There’s plenty more but I think maybe my point is out there, plain and simple. I’m not cut out for low level food service, at least not poorly managed food service. My moral compass is a bit too strong and the real thing that tipped me over the edge was the warning that I can’t loiter before or after my shift. Well, apparently ordering a meal and sitting down to eat is loitering because the assistant manager watched me and my boyfriend eat after my shift, and he kept checking the time. This place doesn’t treat you like a valued employee, but more of like someone they own. Nobody had bothered telling me that I can’t have my hair in a pony tail, or braid, but it must be in a bun (which my hair is too fine and thin to keep itself in). Just like I can’t wear light blue nail polish, it must be one of their approved colors. I didn’t get the job to be controlled, but at the very least they should have told me during orientation so that I knew before I walked in and got yelled at.
So I spend the rest of the day dealing with the anxiety of what do I do now? Do I quit or do I push through, ignore the safety and health violations that are so clear, and all of the other red flags? I just cant do that, I’m not the type who can handle seeing an ungloved hand in a strangers food or a floor drain overflowing and nobody doing anything about it. So by the time my dad got home, I was having a bit of an issue deciding, and my boyfriend and I had a heart to heart, and I was pretty emotional. The first thing my dad did was light a candle. He sits down, let’s me vent, then says “Hey, if it doesn’t work then it doesn’t work. That’s okay.” Up to this point I hadn’t realized, but my anxiety was coming from not wanting to disappoint him. I cried. We talked, he shared his experiences with me and I realized that its okay to not be cut out for food service. I want a customer service job. One where my job matters, not one where I have to basically be the slave, doing all of the lobby work while everyone else stands behind the counter just talking.
I felt better, and had pretty much made up my mind that I would quit after my next shift the next day. I got ready for bed knowing I would have to get as much sleep as possible because I had to wake up and eat a big meal. I went to blow out the candle my dad had lit and realized that he might have actually lit it to help calm me. He did, after all, send me a relaxation care package for Christmas one year. I love my dad.
And I love candles. And at the moment that I blew it out I was able to calm down. I use a candle flame (or incense smoke) to meditate, so this isn’t surprising that it would calm me. But its the appreciation for such a small thing that hit me. I’m over here all focused on the heavy things that cause my anxiety to flair, when I’ve got it so good right now. I’m trying to get out of this cycle of anxiety and depression, but I’m eager to change the world now. I know, even if I don’t always remember, that I cannot pour from a cup which is already empty. In order for me (and you) to change this world, we must first fill our cups. Preferably with earl grey, but you can chose a different beverage, or even soup! I have to heal myself first, and allowing my job to cause me so much stress just won’t do. I spent all of yesterday in a panic, putting in applications to places that I either already had or that are now hiring. I searched online for jobs, looked for at home jobs (I was unaware that you could do some of them without a degree) and rode my bike around putting in paper applications to mom and pop shops.
I’m okay. I can calm down now, and I know that I can be happy, despite my current situation.
For anyone who feel hopeless, I recommend taking a second to heal yourself. For me, I am able to look for other work, and I am lucky for that. But for those who don’t have that opportunity, I suggest finding your lit candle. It might be in a warm bath with Epsom salts, or cuddled up on the sofa with your dog. I struggled for so long before I found out hose too heal, and I’m clearly not the best at it. But this is why I encourage you to try. To know your own self worth, because you are beautiful and intelligent and strong. Every person on this Earth is worth it, and every person deserves their shred of peace. I encourage you to search within for that peace because sometimes the outside world is too dark, too cold and too heartless for those who seek happiness. Only then can we all begin to heal this world, and only then can we bring peace to those around us.