Waitressing was a significant part of my life for almost ten years. Growing up in a tourist town, waitressing was the best money I ever found for a summer job. In just three to four months I typically made enough to cover the cost of my tuition at one of the most expensive public schools in the nation (as they proudly told us during our orientation).
I used to lovingly refer to future work as having a “real job.” It wasn’t that waitressing is not respectable and real work, but that waitressing was the avenue through which I pursued my final career goals.
There was a lot I hated about waitressing- feeling demeaned by customers who saw me as little less than their glorified servant or eye candy in uniform, that one seasoned waitress who seemed to despise all summer staff, weddings that required hours of back-breaking work setting up and tearing down entire dining rooms, customers who stayed until 1am on nights when I had plans at 11pm, and the list goes on.
There were parts I loved- the challenge of serving more table than my section held because other servers were “in the weeds,” playing pranks with and on coworkers, racing to fold napkins, catering parties at multimillion dollar homes on the lake, and working nights during the summer so I could go boating and to the beach on days I wasn’t working a double.
It was a part of my life that taught me a lot about hard work, discipline, multitasking, communicating with adults, and above all HUMILITY (the customer is always right, my feelings don’t matter, and if they have a problem shelling their 250 jumbo shrimp, I certainly better be ready to shell each and every one of them AND keep the rest of my tables happy simultaneously).
But though it taught me much, I had the comfort of knowing one day my time as a waitress would end. Sure, I would be willing to wait tables again if financial or occupational troubles required it. But my last summer working at the Weathervane in Charlevoix marked the end of an era. I was no longer Krista the college girl making money to start her life- I was Krista the professional counselor, starting her real life.
And now here I am, in the middle of real life.
Except it doesn’t quite feel like real life. It still feels like I’m waiting…for something. So much has turned out like I didn’t expect- I live in the south (well, I consider Missouri the South), I’m single at 27 years old, and I like vegetables (my parents never thought this would happen).
Life is different- but it’s also the same. I’m still frustrated on days I feel I’m working my life away. I still value every girls night out or time with family. I’m still struggling to find out who I am and be confident in who that is. I’m still working on my relationship with God.
Last week I moved into my own apartment for the first time. As I busied myself moving, unpacking, and purchasing many needed items I was keenly aware of a new feeling. I’m not sure, but I think it is a feeling of growing up or being independent. Now, I’ve already moved across the country, away from family and friends, to pursue a job opportunity on my own- so it’s not my first step of independence.
But I think it’s the first step I’ve taken that I didn’t expect to take. To be completely honest, I never bought all those little household items I’d need someday because I expected I’d register for them when I got married. Yet, one can only live as a 27-year-old with plastic silverware and no kitchen table for so long!
Sure, I still have the quintessential college futon for a couch, but I bought throw pillows to make it look at least somewhat elegant:)
I’m not saying this is all about marriage. I’m just saying I’m older. As I said, I’m stilling pursuing answers to life’s questions and learning to become comfortable in my shoes, but I’m more aware of my needs and more willing to ask for help as I do.
Living alone won’t be easy, but what in life ever is? I have so many amazing people in my life. I have exciting dreams to explore. And just because I’m done waitressing, doesn’t mean the mystery will end.