When I chose full time café work over university I remember my head of 6th Form very loudly declaring in front of all my peers that it was okay “as long as it’s just while you work out what you want to do!” Hannah Clare
I have had issues with my mental health as long as I can remember, I have always been a natural performer and carer, just wanting to spread some joy and putting others before myself. As I grew up and more people came into my life I started to realise I couldn’t make everyone happy and started to lose faith in myself while still putting their needs above my own.
When I chose full time café work over university I remember my head of 6th Form very loudly declaring in front of all my peers that it was okay “as long as it’s just while you work out what you want to do!” She was the only person who voiced it but I was convinced it was being muttered behind my back by friends and family too. I tried my hand at nursing and was good at it but never loved it so, following a suicide attempt which led to my diagnosis of GAD and depression, and my first course of CBT, I took myself off to Australia where I worked in one of my favourite places to date and realised Hospitality is a “real job”.
There have been many ups and downs since then, moments I’ve questioned the industry as I’ve struggled to find the illusive work/life balance, or when I’m asked if I regret not “doing more”, but I always come back to knowing that on a daily basis I get to create, care for a team and put on a performance to bring smile to the faces of everyone around me, it’s the career I was born for.
Yes, people outside of the industry not understanding my choices is stressful, but do I really care if nobody thinks I’m normal? I do this because I love it, I have opted for a richer and more colourful life over wealth in the bank and have built a huge extended family of people who do understand and go through it all with me. Learning which opinions to give time to has been the best thing I could have done for my mental health.
It’s only really been in the last year that I’ve started to open up about my experiences of mental health and self care with my collegues because the fact it is not talked about more feels like utter stupidity to me, we spend more time with each other than with anyone else so why is okay to talk about all the dirty details of the date you went on but not to mention how you’re feeling?! That’s not to say stop the gossip and the banter but don’t forget to really ask each other how you are. I want to help in anyway I can and am always prepared to be cried on, ranted at, or simply just listen (pre lockdown all would be accompanied by a hug but now I’ve taken to sending GIFs). I’ve also learnt that if I can’t empathise with a particular situation, I’ll be able to find someone who can.