When I first graduated college, I started a string of subpar jobs. Admittedly, I’m still sort of embarrassed at how my “career” started. Not only was I underpaid, but I never appreciated my jobs either. I worked as a Museum Manager, a “Marketing Manager” for this sleazy man who eventually fired me (I was thrilled to be fired), and my last job was for an EMS company. My last job was the one that I liked the most of the three. Not because of the job: the role itself was undefined and strange, but because I had a boss who I actually admired and learned a lot from. To this day, I always cringe at the way I left. (when my ex and I broke up, there was no chance I was going to stay in Connecticut, so I just left and showed up at my parents doorstep with a dog and a duffel bag. I didn’t even quit the job- I just stopped showing up, sent an e-mail to my boss to which he replied ” you were meant to do so much more than this. Good luck out there, kid.”)
Each job for me started the same way; I was excited, enjoyed the “title” more than the job, and eventually would lose interest in the job and self sabotage in only the way I can. If you know me, at all, you know I’m not one to give up. Throughout my time in Connecticut I just never felt like it was “enough”. In retrospect, a lot of that unsettled desire to quickly succeed at something was a sign of a deep rooted unhappiness that I just hadn’t discovered yet. There was also a boredom affiliated with the jobs for me. There was no incentive. I could do all my work on a Monday and the rest of the week float on through and still receive the same paycheck. Worse, the paychecks were so small that there was just no chance for me to ever get ahead. They became a way to pay the bills, but, frankly, they weren’t paying the bills anyway.
I moved home with only one bag, but a lot of baggage. I had $10,000 worth of debt to get myself out of, and no idea how I would. The morning after I showed up at my parents doorstep, I received a call from my dad. He said, “Come to Mac’s at 4:30. Wear all black. You’re going to make money while you figure out your next step.” That Tuesday night changed my life in two ways;
1. I spent the whole evening training with this really amazing waiter… who… you guessed it… is now my husband, Mark.
2. I walked out the door with half of my paycheck that I would receive in Connecticut. HALF. IN SIX HOURS.
That night, I bought a real apron, jotted down a “plan”, and started working towards it. The odds were stacked against me at work, but, that never deterred me. I had Mark, and a few allies throughout the staff that trained me on things I needed to know. Every mistake I made was ridiculed to the nth degree, but, that just motivated me to get better. I started selling wine, upping my average guest check, and was consistently making 25% each night in tips. Sure, I was the bosses daughter, but, I was doing better than everyone else. (except Mark. Don’t tell him, but he’s better than me. Even now, when he comes in to help us out on big nights, he outshines everyone) During the day, I wrote stories, articles, and more. I was consistently featured on a few popular sites. I was being offered contributor roles around the internet. And, I could do all of that and still make triple my income.
In four months, I was out of my debt and started to save my money. While that is a great end to this story, the truth is, that wasn’t even the biggest change that happened to me. Money no longer was an “obligation” to me. My job wasn’t an “obligation” to me anymore. I was finally grateful. I appreciated my money much more, and part of that is because I had to work so much harder for it. My mindset changed from “ I have to pay my bills with this money” to “I am so fortunate that I am able to take care of myself and Emmett with this money.” Every dime I made was valued, and for once, it finally felt like “enough”.
Obviously, I didn’t leave Mac’s. I planned on it- I had a writing job lined up – but, then the Catering Manager left, the job was offered to me, and that’s what I wanted to do when I graduated college so I took it. I failed miserably the first few months. After making a few tweaks for my type B brain, I finally have a nice flow to it. There are moments where I wonder if I should migrate to a “9-5” job. Actually, a month ago I was offered a 9-5 job. I considered it. But, then I reflected back on my time when I had a 9-5 job, and realized that I only succeed when there is an incentive, and politely declined the job.
While I realize the undertone of this post makes it seem like money drives happiness, that is certainly not my intention. The truth is, happiness is derived from appreciation. Appreciating the money that I earn (and, trust me… I earn it) redirected my thought process on money. Money is not an obligation to me- it is something I value, and in turn, allows me to value what I have because of it.
So, today.. while you read this post on your fancy iPhone, or computer, look around at all that you have. Yes, there are people that have more than you. However, you have clothes on your back, a roof over your head, and, mostly likely, you know when your next meal is. You have more than someone too. So, try to redirect your thought process today and value your paycheck. Value what you have because of it.