Merry Christmas to me?

This year has been a doozy.

I feel like I’ve been saying things like that for the past four or five years. Most of the time, I honestly feel trapped. The main culprit is my job. Well, not just my specific job (as in, why I am away from home for 40+ hours per week), but where it seems like my job will take me career wise. I work as a food service manager. Some of the good things about my job are that it’s a pretty tight-knit group (although that can also be a con), I do have a degree of autonomy because I’m a manager, the pay rate is not terrible for my job description, and I usually have two weekdays off. Don’t knock grocery shopping on a Monday afternoon until you’ve effortlessly breezed on in and breezed on out.

Of course, the trade-offs are erratic scheduling, baggage about working a service industry job when I’m staring down the barrel of 40, a low pay rate for the amount of nonsense I have to put up with every day, not being able to wear real clothes (my work gear is very utilitarian and it gets so hot in my workplace that I can’t really wear makeup), and the type of gross boys’ club behavior that happens in kitchens. All of these factors have taken a toll on my life and my self-esteem. It’s hard to have a social life or date when you’re stuck working ten hour night shifts three or four nights a week. Even if I did work mornings or midshifts all week, I’m so emotionally drained when I come home that I barely have enough energy to do more than feed my cats, flip on the TV, and shovel a quick dinner down my throat.

If you’re reading this, I know you’re probably rolling your eyes at me. I get it, I really do. Some of my staff members would happily take my pay rate and a reliable 40 hours a week over part-time work that varies from week to week. You’re probably also thinking “just go get a new job,” but part of the issue is that I have no interest in becoming a career food service manager. Management sucks. Yes, having autonomy and better responsibilities is cool. It is incredibly rewarding to get a hard-working employee’s efforts noticed. Having to deal with poor attitudes or tell people “no” or write them up or discipline them or advocate for them to be fired is awful. On top of it, if you’re in a small place and you have no real peers, it poses all sorts of issues to try to make friends at work.

Basically, my job is isolating because of the emotional and the time demands, and my position makes me feel extra isolated because of the power dynamics related to hanging out with staff outside of work. I do think some of this would be different if I were at a larger employer where I could spend 85% of my week in a back office catching up on various paperwork, but it doesn’t change the fact that the industry just isn’t a great fit for me. I want to spend some time in the new year really thinking about what I want to do and how to achieve it, but I’m afraid that I might spend several months spinning my wheels.

I know, I know. I need to do something to change my situation. I realize that, and I also realize that being able to whine about my life on a blog is a huge luxury. It’s just sometimes difficult to take all of that knowledge and put it into action. Let’s hope I can find some motivation to take control of my life and the things that cause me unhappiness in 2018.

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