Setting Down New Roots as an Adult with No Professional Skills

I guess I’m being a little hard on myself — I have skills, but nothing that comes from having a degree, or working my way through an impressive company, or having a cubical or office of my own.

I’ve been a professional service industry monkey for the last five years. I say that as lovingly as possible; I cannot stress how important the skills I have maintained as a server, hostess, counter person, cook, or restaurant manager have been to my everyday life. And the people who I have met over the years have become an extended family. Plus working in kitchens is very stressful & we tend to unwind by drinking. Often. Together. We form bonds.

But all of this is stressful when you move 2,000 miles away and try to get started in a new place, with benefits and decent pay, with a new team that you hope will love you — or, at the very least, do a tequila shot with you. It’s hard to say you’re worth a damn when you have no formal education as a chef, and you can’t rely on the type of word-of-mouth recommendations that come from the small family of locally owned restaurants of yesteryear. (Seriously, I provided a page of references and I’m pretty sure nobody has called them yet, which is a bummer because all of those people would have great things to say about me.) Did they even read the core competencies section of my resume? Are they even impressed by “competencies”?

It’s stressful because there are a lot of restaurants out there, and there are many that I don’t want to turn almost-30 working in. I want a specific culture, a specific skill set, a specific pay grade, and it’s not that the other places aren’t “good enough” for me, but I feel like I have earned a certain kind of something over the years. Plus, those other places would best serve someone who wants the kind of skill sets that I have worked so hard for over the years.

I try not to let myself get discouraged when I consider the degree that I dropped out of; the career path that I walked away from pretty early. I genuinely enjoy preparing food, arranging it just so on the plate, expanding my skill sets to create and sell new things. I just hope that my new home will be as welcoming and accommodating to my hopes and that the forty-some applications that I have put towards new work — some that I want a lot more than others — will turn up a new experience that’s worthwhile & that I can be excited about.

Where does one grow from this point? Once we grow tired of the sweat and long hours; the demanding workload and sometimes (but not always!) nonexistent pay jumps? What does the future hold for burnt out cooks looking for a new path in their thirties? I guess we’ll have to wait and find out.

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