“Never a failure always a lesson.” –Rihanna
At the beginning of this month, I started working at an excellent restaurant in Cambridge. When I got the job, I was excited. I had never worked in a fine dining restaurant before and was up for the challenge. My first few days were great. I found the work to be stimulating, new and the staff I worked with were friendly. As my shifts continued, I began to feel overwhelmed.
On Monday, I called my mother and expressed to her my frustrations. Following that conversation, I knew that I had to up my game and do a better job my next shift Wednesday. My next day I went in with the intention of giving my job 150%; unfortunately, I was exhausted. As you know, I’m in grad school, and my classes require so much reading to stay on track, I walk two miles to and from campus to get to class. Not to mention the level of mental fatigue that my adventures require to not get lost. My days are draining.
Yesterday, while I was at work one of my colleagues, asked me how my day was,
“Long,” I replied. As I had already been up since 6 am, read four chapters and a case study before my shift.
“Well do you have anything to do tomorrow?” He asked.
At that moment I realized that it was time for me to quit. My days show no signs of slowing down. Today I have a project due; I have brand stuff I’m trying to get done and a massive exam on Tuesday. I knew something had to give. Yesterday as my shift came to an end, I knew that my days at that particular restaurant had come to an end.
Walking out of work that night, I felt proud of myself for knowing that I wouldn’t be back. I realized that I had let my ego cause me to overestimate my abilities and underestimate the demands of my former job. This decision took maturity. I now know that this decision was for the best because of three essential principles.
Mediocrity vs. Excellence
It is far better to do five things exceptionally well than to do fifteen mediocre things. We all are only given a limited amount of time and energy. To live our best lives, it is imperative that we assess what our days consist of and cut back where needed.
This past week as I was working at the restaurant, I was unfocused at work because I was tired from classes. During my classes, I wasn’t engaged in discussions because I was tired from work. Every moment of my day I was present but lacked presence. I was moving through my days on a mediocre level because I was overwhelmed.
Who does it serve to give the world a mediocre version of myself? No one.
To you, my reader, I encourage you to aim for excellence in whatever you do. We live in a culture that celebrates notions of “No Sleep” and grinding beyond our physical limits. I’m all for working hard and growth but only if it produces some form of excellence. If we find ourselves, working and working and we aren’t delivering excellence, is it worth it? No. If you work hard for the sake of working hard, you’ll find yourself burnt out, ashy and may have nothing to show for your efforts.
I Know My Limits
The restaurant I worked at was impeccable and excellent in every sense. They hold the bar very high and expect their employees to exude that level of excellence at all times. I salute everyone who I met there who does their job exceptionally. For me, at this time in my life, I don’t have the capacity to be that excellent at working at a restaurant. I hit my limit.
When we know our limits, we see what we can and cannot do. Whenever you feel yourself reaching your limit, and it still is not enough, try to reassess. After I realized I gave this opportunity the best I could and it was not to company standards, I had to decide to leave because I was mediocre when the situation required excellence.
I Belong To Me
“I Belong to Christopher.” is my mantra for this new season in my life. After much reflection and self-evaluation, I have come to understand that I belong to me. This idea is not arrogance or narcissism; it’s self-love in its purest form. In life, we all wear labels such as son, student, employee or friend. One thing that I have come to learn is that these labels or roles we ascribe to are not to oppress us but assist us in expressing who we are. Every role or label that I ascribe to is an expression of me. I am a son because of ET and Monica Sumlin who I both love and cherish. I am a student because I love learning and wanted to go to grad school. Everything that I do is centered in my self-love and are expressions of that love.
Working at that restaurant wasn’t making me happy. I was stretching myself too thin and wasn’t loving how that made me feel. When I understood that by pushing myself too far I was doing myself more harm than good, I knew I had to leave. One of the reasons I debated staying was because I wanted to be fair to my employees and team. It’s good to be fair, but I never want to be fair to everyone else and not be fair to myself.
I Belong To Me.
In summation, this blog wasn’t intended to lament about my departure from a job. I wanted to remind each of you to love yourselves entirely even if it is hard to. When you love yourself, you’ll want to work towards excellence. When you love yourself you will understand your limits. When you love yourself, you will realize that self-love has to be the foundation of every move you make.
The decision to leave this job was hard for me, but luckily it reinforced a lesson I apparently needed to learn. I’m sure I’ll find another job soon. I’m proud to be able to share this message; I hope you found this story inspiring.