"This is my notice. I no longer want to be a server. Thank you for the opportunity. You are all like family to me, it's just time."
When these words first escaped my lips, a part of me wanted to chase after them as they floated towards my managers. That part of me wanted to trap them in my shaking hands and force them back inside of me, storing them for another time; a safer time.
But there was a much bigger part of me that was fed up with being safe. This beloved part of me was tired of waiting for the right time to do it. It was tired of waiting for the perfect computer or writing space, and it was exhausted by the thought of waiting for the right person to come along and force me to follow my own dreams.
In fact, it was so fatigued by my excuses that I could feel it threatening to leave me all together. It was going to leave me with the 'safe' part of myself so that I could live a simple and comfortable life. And that realization was the most fearful thought that had ever entered my tired mind.
It didn't scare me to death. It scared me into action. It scared me right into living again.
When my bosses heard that the only plans I had for myself post-waitress life was an odd job here and there but mainly my writing, they seemed surprisingly confident in my decision. This was incredibly reassuring since I had spent most of my recent days battling whether or not I was making the right decision, much less a responsible one.
I woke up on the morning of my last day of work feeling numb. There was a strange buzz about head that usually comes from a sleepless night or a result of too much cough medicine. But I didn't take any medicine and I actually slept quite well that night. I suspected that on my last day at a place I had dedicated the last two years of my life to, would have a roller coaster of emotion. Not feeling anything at all was surely the last thing I expected.
So I went through the motions: shower, hair, make-up, sneakers and, of course, my apron. I was ready for the last lines in this olive oil stained chapter.
I made the lengthy drive to the more upscale part of town, pulled into the parking garage and turned the engine off. By doing this, something else was turned on.
I lost it. I cried so hard and shook so intensely that I made myself dizzy to the point that little black spots began taking turns blurring my vision. Now, instead of feeling nothing, I was feeling it ALL.
Panic. Fear. Regret. Desperation. All of this consumed me in the humid Phoenix parking garage I had learned to know my way around so well. But what did it mean? Was I making the wrong decision? Should I beg my job back? Do I not believe in myself enough or trust myself too little to be able to let go?
DING, DING, DING! Someone give this girl a prize! Of course fear and doubt reared their ugly heads in what they thought to be the nick of time. I was about to take the biggest leap of faith that I had in years! Why wouldn't the self-loathing enemy send his best defense. In the weeks leading up to this moment, I could practically hear the stomping of fear's army marching my way.
I was so afraid that following my dream of being an artist would leave me hungry. But, by not doing it, I was already starving.
I was faced with the decision of definition. I needed to redefine what these emotions meant. (I think we too often forget that we have this power over our lives.)
Panic. Yes, I am panicking, but it is because I am about to be brave and follow through with a decision that leads me out of my comfort zone and into the unknown. And that is where I need to go to discover just how much I want it and how willing I am to fight for it.
Fear. Yes, I am filled with it... & it's invigorating! I am just fearful that this all might work. And that means that I have to muster up the courage and determination to finally start living the life that I know I was designed for.
Regret. Yes, I am definitely regretting the fact that this meltdown is not only going to require me to redo my make-up, but also make me late for my last shift at work. Way to go.
Desperation. YES. I am so incredibly desperate for change. For a new beginning. For a chance to write my stories and help encourage the strengths in others so they can inspire those around them. I am desperate to turn my passion into my paycheck.
I went in that night and worked my last shift as a waitress. I brought my customers extra cheese, listened to their ooohs and ahhhs over steaming plates of pasta and refilled their wine glasses all with a big smile. Even the tables that would have typically drove me up a wall, got a meaningful 'Have a great night!' on their way out.
The kitchen made me tacos (my favorite), my manager opened our fanciest bottle of champagne and my coworkers hugged me and raised their glasses to my future. And, for the first time in a long time, tears of happiness found their way down my cheeks.
It was in this moment, surrounded by the people I worked with who I was so proud to now just get to call amazing friends, that I realized how wrong I had been about doubting my decision.
What happened earlier was not a breakdown. It was a breakthrough.