An Open Letter to my First Job

Today I walked through your doors for  the last time.

Today I turned my back on the place that became my second home in the last four years.

Tomorrow I won’t go back and see my co-workers and regular customers and faces that have become comforting and familiar over the years.

Next week I won’t go back for my regular weekend shifts and follow the same pattern I have done for the last four years.

As much as I fear the unknown and can’t fathom my future job or employment opportunities, today was the day to say goodbye for the last time, and turn toward new opportunities.

That being said, there’s a few things I want to say about my first job.

My first job was my first taste of freedom. My parents were so involved in every aspect of my life up to that point, and this job was my first opportunity to do something alone. It was something my parents couldn’t watch over, it was something nobody from school was a part of. I loved my first job because I felt like it connected me to something different than I had been used to my whole life.

I remember walking into my first day, terrified, and being trained by one of the smartest and funniest people I’d know. She ended up training me for every job I got promoted to, and without her hard-ass training style, I wouldn’t have learned as much or been as good at my job. Thank you Jessica.

I had to swallow my pride and bite my tongue and ignore the girl drama that surrounded me. I went home crying every night for two weeks because the other girls were spreading rumors about me, but I didn’t engage because I didn’t want to jeopardize my promotion.

I started college and had to juggle a full course load while working 6 days a week because I was getting promoted and wanted to prove myself to my managers.  I made sure to prioritize my school work, but I learned a lot about time management and how much I could handle.

It was within these restaurant walls that I experienced so much.

I learned responsibility far beyond anything I’d known before.

I tested my strength (more than I should have, but hey, you live and you learn #backbeltlife).

I met my first love.

I learned that the customer isn’t always right, but it’s important to treat people how you want to be treated. If someone takes their misery out on you, don’t reciprocate it, rise above it. I’m still learning this one.

I learned that people are going to make dumb decisions, and you’ll have to deal with the repercussions.  Likewise, you’re going to mess up a lot, too, so it’s important to get off your high horse.

I met some of the nicest people I’d ever met in my life- people with different backgrounds and heartbreaking life stories. I met people who smiled at work every day and left all their baggage at the door, because they were strong.

I learned that I’m bossy. But also that I can be a good leader when I take my time and explain everything, instead of just bossing people around.

Thank you for all the lessons.  Thank you for the life experience, and the job experience. Thank you for the laughs, the struggles, the annoyances, and the occasional tears.  Thank you for the memories I’ll take with me forever.  I can’t imagine a better first job, as far as money and memories. Even when I hated my job, I still think I loved it.  There were women there who felt like my mom at times when I needed help, and guys that felt like they could be my dad or cool uncle, who cheered me on and congratulated me on all my accomplishments.  Thank you for keeping me sane.

I started off as the youngest person there, and stayed that way for a good 2 years. I was the kid of the group, and I low key resented it, until the next batch of kids got hired. Then I was teaching them. I was showing them things no one taught me, hoping they’d do better than I could.  I missed hosting, running around, seating tables, not having all the stress and responsibility that comes with serving.

I remember my first day as a server. I spent 2 years working up to it, and I still felt unprepared.  I did so badly. I messed up so many orders and didn’t know where anything was in the kitchen, and it felt like nobody wanted to help me, like I’d already been written off as the dud.

I went home, and I cried, because I didn’t think I was good enough. I thought if I failed at serving, what could I possibly succeed at?

Then I learned. And I got better, I got stronger, I got faster.  I made flashcards and studied the menu along with my school classes. I made it a priority. I wasn’t going to be the dud. I wanted to be good at my job.  There were a few bumps on the road, a few panic attacks and back injuries and wonky tables.  But I can look back on my 4 years and feel accomplished.  I feel like a different person than the 16 year old girl who walked in wide-eyed and scared that first day. I grew up at my first job. My co-workers became my family.

Thank you for being a second home. Thank you for pushing me farther than I thought I could go.

But mostly, thank you for all the Chocolate Thunders.

I’ll miss you Outback


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