[5.17] Started at the Bottom now we Here : My Journey from Education to Hospitality

I’ll spare you the extraneous details, of which there are many.

I could tell you about every facet of my career change; about the customers who motivated me to get better at interpersonal relations; about the students who changed my life for the better…

… but then we’d be here forever, and I suspect this will be a long enough story.

Instead, I’ll talk about how, in the words of rapper Kheyro, I Started at the bottom now we here.

I don’t want to say where I work, or even give details, as a quick Google search of what I tell you will immediately bring up the establishment. I will say, though, that it’s gorgeous, historic, and within the hospitality industry. Most of those I work with and for are surprised to learn that, unlike most in higher positions, I did not spend my years working in the hospitality industry. In fact, my only experience with anything to do with retail or hospitality were three summer jobs: at a clothing store for ~2 months, serving at a restaurant for ~2 months, and a hot-dog stand employee for ~6 months. I spent four and a half years, and thousands of dollars, however, pursuing a degree in Music Education.

When I left the education circuit after two years for a myriad of reasons, I entered the restaurant industry as a mere hostess. A $10/hour, full-time hostess. Now, I’m what this particular venue calls a Junior Manager. I help with everything with the intention of finding my niche and being assigned specific projects as I grow. I have been here for nearly a month.

So how? How did I go from hostess to someone with power and responsibility, and in less than a year? I’ll tell you how. I’ll tell you how I started from the bottom now I’m here.

I worked my God Damn Ass Off. I worked so hard, in fact, that I finally discovered what it’s like to work for me and not for the praise and laud of others.

I wish I had worked this hard in high school and college.

I think that if I had worked this hard at teaching, I would still be teaching.

So that begs to ask: is it better that I discovered this now, or would my life be significantly different? And would it be different for the better?

I started my last job meek, shy, with little self-confidence, and under the impression that I would never find the thing I loved to do ever again. I lived with the guilt of squandering a perfectly good college education and thousands of my parents dollars by standing at a stand, walking people to and from tables, repeating the same thing in my head as I walked.

“I have a college degree… I have a college degree… I have a college degree…”

I was bored and unchallenged.

And I was good at it.

Not being bored and unchallenged, but hosting. As soul-destroying and boring as it was, I was good at it.

For the first time in nearly two years, I found myself knowing that I was good at something and not requiring the constant reassurance from colleagues and supervisors. I knew I was good.

What a strange feeling it was, to be able to go home knowing that I had worked hard and done a good job. It’s such an underrated thing, but being happy is so important. With that happiness came confidence that even my husband could see. I wanted to work harder. I wanted to get better. I wanted to excel.

And that I did. I am not a very braggy person, but one in a while self-confidence is a good thing. I worked my butt off and learned just about every side job they would teach me. I became the ultimate employee. So ultimate in fact, that I was promoted a few months after starting. I would split my time between restaurant and office work.

I did the same thing in the back offices, learning every thing from utility tracking to payroll to event planning and execution. I worked and I worked and I worked some more. I loved every minute of it.

Eventually, though, I hit that glass ceiling. The same glass ceiling that, in the depths of my depression, I never thought I’d see again. Certainly, I thought, I would never be at a job where the only way to excel would be to leave. Sure enough, though, less than a year later, I found myself applying to, interviewing for, and accepting my current position in a matter of a week and a half. It was a whirlwind decision, followed by an intense two weeks of working both jobs — training a new employee at my old job and being trained at my new job — and an eventual goodbye to the supervisors and friends who had returned me to my former working glory.

Never before was it harder to leave a group of people. It was my first time leaving a job for myself, and not because my performance was in question or I had disagreements with those I was around every day. My last day, my supervisors and bosses gathered and gave me a present, hugging me tightly, and I nearly cried as I drove away from that job for the last time, straight to my newest professional endeavor.

I started my professional career the day I accepted my offer to college, and to this day, it continues. I use my teaching skills in the hospitality industry daily. I feel like I am a poster child for the concept of working hard enough at anything and making it happen.

I started at the bottom, and now I’m here.

And I never want to stop.