Why it’s okay not to feel good enough
Hey readers! Thanks for dropping in today. We are going to discuss a topic today that is very personal and important to me: Not feeling good enough.
My confidence was shaken in January when I lost my job. The place I worked constantly told me (and fellow workers) that I was useless, didn’t work hard enough and wasn’t producing what they wanted, even though they couldn’t tell me what they DID want. This kind of constant negativity can undermine your confidence and bleeds into every aspect of your life. It sure did mine.
My experience was tough but I’m going to open up to you all so that you get a better idea of where I’m coming from and also what i’ve been going through personally.
I started for this company in the fall of 2015, after a turbulent year in my personal life. I closed my business due to divorce, lost my mother to cancer and was trying to make peace with the fact that I was once again working for someone else executing their vision, not mine. Thats a tough pill to swallow. I needed to step up and provide for my family, now just two instead of three of us. Going from two incomes to one income is a huge adjustment. Couple this with the rapid sickness of a loved one, it made for a tough year mentally. So when i was perusing the classified ads on craiglist, i stumbled across a posting for a job at a local hotel. It was full time, pastry chef work. Literally sounded like a dream come true. It would have been, had the hiring company been honest when going through the interview process about how big of a mess their environment was. Although it would be hard for them to admit to that since they refused to see it themselves.
Upon acceptance of the position, I had a solid 3 weeks before it started to go south. I had a lot of work to do in gaining the trust of my direct reports, which actually turned out to be the easiest part of the transition. Dealing with the executives, not so much.
Within a month I had been compared to the previous pastry chef about 10 times. The sales department loved her and I quickly found out why: She was a yes person, which is a 180 from what I am. I prefer to research and make sure I can make things happen within a budget and on time. She would automatically say yes and “figure it out”. When I took over the budget she destroyed, i realized her way of figuring things out was to ignore that there is a reality to food production. The cost of food and labor were never factored into her pricing. Ever. Do you know how hard it is to balance a budget when you don’t pay attention to cost? Its nearly impossible.
I spent months trying to blaze my own trail, including trying to reign in a control freak assistant that thought it was her kitchen. That was probably the biggest challenge. HR stood in my way every step of the way of the discipline process. Its extremely hard to manage people when they know there are zero consequences. Eventually, i just relinquished control, which was an error in my judgement. I should have established my authority but managing a 24 year old woman who has never been told no in her professional life is also difficult. When you have an executive chef that also doesn’t back you and will throw you under the bus at any given moment, its basically everyone for themselves.
This continued for almost 18 months. At the end of my tenure at the job, i had a class of 3 students. Two were middle of the road and one was just not committed to being a student and didn’t like being held accountable. Fast forward to the end of the semester grades and when that student was made aware they were not passing, had their parents call the dean on their behalf. This resulted in multiple conversations between them and myself and ultimately ended up in my termination. I don’t regret standing up for my beliefs. I don’t give grades, you earn them. Period.
There was an ugly fight over unemployment which resulted in my having to listen to 5 executives sit in a room on a conference call and say anything and everything bad i could ever believe about myself to an employee of the state, regardless of the fact that a large bit of it was fabricated.
It sent me into a tailspin. I have dealt with severe anxiety since 2009 and having my livelihood ripped from underneath me AND listening to all the vile things that were said about me really took its toll. I am generally a pretty strong person but this was like torture. I wont say it was post traumatic stress disorder but it was pretty close. I couldn’t have that cloud of negativity over me anymore so i walked away and gave up the fight.
Couple this with a pretty abysmal job market and it wasn’t a great time for my mental health. In fact, i’m still recovering and trying to get back to the “old Chris”. There are plenty of days when I still feel not good enough. I have taken a job as a barista. Its definitely a change. The money is about half of what i was making previously. The positive? Its 95% less stress than what I was doing before.
Doing some reflection earlier this year led me to a revelation: I don’t want to be a pastry chef anymore. I know it may seem strange to be done with a career that I’ve spent 17 years in, but its not making me happy anymore. Frankly, it hasn’t in a long time.
A passion of mine is architecture. I decided to enroll in school and get a degree in construction management with a focus on sustainable design. My ultimate goal is to bring affordable “cottage” style housing to people while utilizing sustainable methods. In recent years I have become much more conscious about the state of our environment. I use non harmful cleaning products, i recycle a lot more, I don’t litter. These are small things that I can add into my everyday routine that may not make a huge difference, but every little bit helps.
Embarking on a new career at 34 years old is scary. There is the fear that there is someone out there that is younger, better, smarter. Guess what? They will be out there whether or not you choose to make a change. I am taking control of my future and my family’s future. And about all those years of experience? Thats why I started the blog. Thats why I opened my etsy shop. This way I can still be an expert and have a foot in the culinary world, but not be committing every waking moment and every WORKING moment to a career that no longer serves my family and me.
Thank you all for letting me share my story with you. I know it was a little longwinded but I appreciate your readership. This is just a little insight into who I am. I look forward to getting to share more with you in the future!
Until next time,