Gaining strength

Hey you, I’m so glad to be writing again. The physical demands of my new job had me sleeping 9-10 hours a night for the first two weeks and I am finally coming back to normal habits. It’s hard to be prolific in the midst of transition, so instead of trying to say something definitive and lasting, I’ll try to give a clear picture of where I am as I near the end of this period of prolonged unsteady employment. I don’t think I am alone is saying that transition makes me reflective so here is where I’ll begin:

Three years ago I was about six months into my first full-time job, training to become a barista 4 hours per week while I barbacked 35 hours per week, and was going to school on top of it all. I don't want to over romanticize this period, but when I was in the cafe there were moments when I felt nearly invincible.  I pushed myself further and harder than I had ever imagined I could. It’s a time that reminds me that I can do hard things.

I wanted to work hard. I felt best when I was working the hardest and there was always a reward at the end of my shifts. I was lucky to have found my place quickly within the cafe and was almost always with coffee people.

I was so inspired and felt an immense sense of belonging. When trying to find the next place to land, this is the feeling I went searching for. So now, with encouragement from Elizabeth Gilbert, I am following my curiosity.

In this new place there is a lot to learn and I often feel like a sponge, trying to absorb as much as possible. I am surprising even myself with how I can adapt to longer hours and increased physical labor. I definitely think that this is the right place for me to be right now, but it's still hard. And that’s okay! Changing jobs is a hard thing!

This is something that I didn’t understand before my most recent employment transitions. I don’t think we acknowledge enough how difficult it is to leave the routines and people that we know. We push people down by saying it's just a job or that it's not supposed to last forever, change is good! Of course it is but it’s not a very kind or helpful thing to say when it diminishes another's feelings and experience. I have certainly been guilty of taking this stance before. But we give up a lot when we leave a job, like the seniority we’ve worked for and the employment benefits we’ve gained. (Not all employee health care packages are created equal!) It’s not an easy choice and it should be more respected.

I had felt pretty beat down when I left coffee. I was confused by my own lack of energy and only barely pulled together the strength to say goodbye and start something anew.

Thankfully, in this kitchen I'm beginning to feel like I'm gaining strength again. I am building my muscles and doing hard things. Shucking oysters and using a meat slicer properly are not tasks for the faint of heart, but they are worth the satisfaction of a job well done.

Finding your place in a new environment isn’t easy, especially if you are painfully shy like I am. Even though everyone is friendly and welcoming at work, it's still difficult for me feel comfortable when I know I’ve started on my weak foot.

The plan at this restaurant is for me to start in the kitchen and then split my time between back-of-house and front-of-house when a position in the front becomes available. Being a barista is very much a hybrid position and I am capable of doing both but working with food is still new to me and I would have prefered to show off my coffee knowledge before my knife work.

I am mostly uncomfortable, but in a good way. We only grow through discomfort and I am doing my best to “lean in.” This seems to be a safe place to do so and I couldn’t have asked for more than that. On a very practical level, the pay is fair and is going to give me the stability I need to invest my time and energy into this work. I am feeling hopeful again and am very excited to continue to share this journey with you all.