| fōmō |
• A form of social anxiety – a compulsive concern that one might miss an opportunity or satisfying event, often aroused by posts seen on social media websites.
I am very familiar with FOMO.
That step into adulthood that most people take was actually a drop. I was 20, living at home, going to school. I had a job that was making me a substantial amount of money for someone my age and an internship that was starting my professional culinary career. Suddenly i was faced with a very adult decision. My parents were moving to Texas and i could move with them or stay in Miami and create a life on my own.
I decided to stay.
Staying meant a lot of things had to change so i could become a stable independent adult. At this time i was interning monday through thursday 6 am – 1 pm, going to school from 2 -6 pm and working weekend serving at your favorite late night spot working 10-12 hour shifts.
I was the unofficial pastry sous chef for Sra. Martinez and Crumb on Parchment owned by local Miami chef Michelle Bernstein. I say unofficial because it was just me and her head chef doing all the work and I wasn’t getting paid. I was learning and creating and growing and i needed more. They wanted more of me too. They wanted me on the weekends. They wanted me to work in the Sra. Martinez kitchen plating and serving desserts, but they didn’t want to pay me. They wanted to keep me on as an intern and i just couldn’t afford that. I needed to make money to pay my minimal bills and afford my growing shoe collection but i wanted to be a chef. I had a choice to make.
I had to give up baking.
My parents were moving and I needed to support myself. Working for free and getting paid in croissants wasn’t going to cut it. I quit professional baking and started full-time at the bar. I used my small savings that was going to be used on a car for an apartment and then used my friends and family to get around. Oh, and school? I was done, technically. I just needed to turn in my hours for the internship and then i was on my way to my AA. Then i found out that none of my hours counted. They weren’t within the time i was supposed to be officially doing an internship for school. I was devastated. All my hard work was for nothing. Even though i had all the knowledge and experience, i couldn’t get that piece of paper that said “I did it”.
Back to work I went.
There was nothing else I could do but go to work. I was barely making enough for rent let alone saving money for a car. I was baking for friends on the side; cupcakes and cakes for parties and pies for holidays. It wasn’t enough. I was watching the culinary scene from the sidelines. The place i wanted to be but couldn’t get to. Watching food trends pop up saying to myself “I can do that better”. I had all the drive and nowhere to go.
Meanwhile I was just becoming a bartender and being offered staff training and management positions at other stores. I didn’t take them. I stayed in the same spot afraid of change. My lease ended and i moved in with my sister and her family. I stayed there for 3 years. I gave up baking entirely, stopped cooking all together and started going out more. I was staying out after work and drinking until the sun came up. Sometimes well into the next day when i would take a nap before my next shift where i would do it all over again. I was spending all my money on Orlando vacations with toxic friends who were stuck in the same cycle i was.
There lies the problem with being “in the biz”.
This summer marks nine years at Flanigans. The place that was supposed to be a summer job and a weekend part-time gig became my career. My family says that i “got stuck” here. I don’t agree with that. I’ve been able to do as much as i wanted working here. I take the time off i need, I work the hours i want, i make cash every day. Working here I’ve been able to support myself completely. I finally bought a brand new car, i travel out of state a couple of times a year, and last year we bought a house. Its been a great job where I’ve met and worked with some of the best people. I’ve also learned how to be a good human while testing my patience to the max. Working at a restaurant should be a class you take in high school to prepare you on how to be a respectful adult. Pro tip guys: If you’re not nice to your server, you’re not a nice person.
The problem you face being in the biz is never wanting to leave. Leaving means giving up the people, the small family you’ve created through your bond over hating regulars and sharing a basket of fries because you’re so busy that’s all you have time to eat. Most importantly it means giving up the cold hard cash you take home with you every night. The money you had to smile and flirt for, run drinks and food for, have very very strange conversations for. It’s an experience to physically see what you can earn in a day. It’s also comforting to know that if I’m short on cash I can pick up a shift and get it easily.
This is what makes you stay.
The knowledge that you can sustain yourself on this constant flow of cash and that there’s always going to be someone at work that feel the same way that you do. Someone you can vent to that will help you along the way. People who will stay after work for a drink or a slice of chocolate cake. Something we affectionately call “parking lot pimpin'”. Unfortunately I’ve discovered that none of these things help you grow. You’re in the same cycle of money and drinks and people and you’re never able to grow as a person.
There was a party this weekend that I was invited to but ultimately make the decision not to go to. Normally i would have sat at home, glued to my phone, watching the snaps of the party, beating myself up because i didn’t go. That didn’t happen this time. I did watch the snaps but i didn’t feel the anxiety of missing out on yet another group event. It was the same people doing the same things and I didn’t miss any of it.
That was my moment of growth.
That was when i realized that this era of my life was coming to an end. I didn’t want to be out drinking until i fell over and i definitely didn’t want it documented on Instagram. I don’t want to be spending my money on 4$ shots at Tootsies because that’s where everyone hangs out. I don’t want to have to pick up an extra shift this week because i spent it all partying. Yes, I’m young and i should be enjoying my life, but i don’t want to be doing it like this.
This epiphany is something my husband has been arguing with me about and I’m sorry to say that he’s been right this whole time. (Love you baby!) I’ve finally come to a place in my life where i can breathe. I can go in a different direction with my life and not be worried about money. I don’t have to kill myself to make an extra dollar. I don’t have to deal with the idiots that think being a Hialeah chico will get them a free drink. I can finally do what drives me and not be so scared of change. Being scared of failure is another thing, but being afraid of change is stupid. Its something that’s been stopping me for a long time from doing the thing i want to do. As far back as i can think of i can remember saying no to change. Things that would have benefited me for the future that i was absolutely against because it would change my life as i knew it. (Ex: braces at 25 instead of 13). Its time for me to adapt a new way of life and step into a new era of being.
I can’t be afraid anymore. I have to let myself grow. Its time for a change.