Picture the scene – new at a job and keen to prove myself, 18 year old me strode into the restaurant, apron on, ready to start my shift.
Whether or not it’s down to anxiety, I’ve always hated the first few weeks of a new job. I hate having to ask a million questions, I hate relying on other people – but most of all, I hate getting things wrong. I have a major fear of failure, which I know is a problem for a lot of people.
As well as this, as a keen feminist, I was desperate to prove myself (after only a few weeks of working there) to the male members of staff that I was working with that day, and for the first time ever. Especially as they were just so patronising.
"Oh Heidi, do you think you’ll be okay to take those drinks? Will you be okay with the door?" Yes, I think after 18 years on the planet I can just about manage to walk some drinks through a door, thanks Michael.
LITTLE ERRORS + AN ARSEHOLE BOSS
Anyway, so here I am, strutting my stuff through the restaurant. Trying to blend that effortless nonchalant tray-holding with the complex skill of opening doors. But try as I might, I just kept making stupid little errors. Silly things. Like forgetting to bring someone cutlery or something. And all the while I start beating myself up, getting more and more angry. I knew I could do it. What was going wrong?
Also I feel like it’s also important to mention, I was deathly afraid of my boss in this job. So as much as I wanted to prove myself within my surroundings of mansplaining and patronisation, I also wanted to avoid the inevitable passive aggressiveness of my slightly terrifying boss.
So, as you can imagine, this all climaxed fairly quickly. I had just been told (once again) how to take a drink to a table and was wildly suppressing a bubbling, burning anger when I saw my nightmare boss was leaving the kitchen to come and work on the floor with me (making me feel yet more incapable). What happened then, I couldn’t even explain. It felt like slow motion. I don’t know how but my tray was on the floor. Beer was spilling out of the bottle like a lifeless corpse. Glass was everywhere.
STOP, PANIC TIME
I don’t know what happened next and don’t really remember getting there but I was sitting on top of a toilet seat, hyperventilating, rubbing my thighs repeatedly. My hands were shaking with intense pins and needles. I eventually tried to help clear up but that made things worse. I was crying in front of my manager, begging to go home. Tears dropping onto the tables as I was wiping them.
It was really scary and seemed like the worst thing in the world. I just wanted to run home and sleep. But you know what? It worked out just fine. Yeah, it did take me awhile to calm down, but the other manager let me go for a walk, one of the guys I worked with came out and saw me, explained that he had anxiety too and would make sure he covered the floor so I wouldn’t have to do much.
WHAT I LEARNT FROM THIS PARTICULAR EXPERIENCE:
Don’t judge a book by it’s cover – people might be rubbing you the wrong way, but generally, they will help you when you need it.
You can survive a panic attack – I ended up working the rest of my shift even though I was adamant I couldn’t.
I can get through this by myself. I didn’t have my friends, my boyfriend or my family – but I almost didn’t need them. I had got through it just fine on my own.
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