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What am I doing with my life?

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When I tell people that my passion is food, they assume that my passion is to work in a restaurant or maybe have one of my own. However, this is definitely not my vision for how I want to utilize my passion for food. Working in a restaurant to me seems incredibly unsatisfying for many reasons, but the most important reason for staying away is that if I were to work my life in a restaurant I would not have much of a life with my family. At far too young of an age I learned how important family and moments with family are. I don’t intend to sacrifice that time for a kitchen where I am just another part of a well oiled machine that goes unnoticed even if I were to go missing or be misplaced.

I decided that the food industry was my passion in ninth grade and proceeded to pursue that passion in high school through a culinary career technical program. I still hold this class as something to be proud of simply because it proved that my passion is the food industry while also bringing light to the fact of my hatred for it. In this class, I learned that we culinary adventurers only have two choices. We could go to school in order to acquire a degree that would enable us to skip steps on the ladder or we could skip school, go straight into the workforce, and work our way up the ladder. This seems fair even to this day, but the issue is that the emphasis on the end goal being a sous chef in a restaurant was far too extreme. I like to assume this emphasis came from the fact that my very talented instructor  had been a sous chef in, I believe, two restaurants. If I have learned anything since then, it would be that life is all about ones perspective and that man’s perspective was all he knew. I found myself loving my passion less with the passing of each day. I became jealous of other students I served because they had a sense of direction in their career technical program. Of course this was my perspective at the time. Now I understand that was not true and many people went on to find their path later in life. Eventually my passion died or at least I presumed. 

Not all of my influence came from school. Family and friends often reminded me of how unstable the food industry can be and how tough and grueling my life would be if I were to pursue it. Being a teen at the time and having very little grit, this was a reasonable argument for why I shouldn’t pursue my passion. I mean how great does working in a stressful kitchen 24/7, missing precious time with family, not being paid enough to justify my lost time, and spilling sweat and tears all to go home to a sleeping house and wake up to do it all over again sound. I can honestly say I still do not want to live that life. It’s not my life to lead. So I did what everyone does when they listen to people they love in their lives and I gave up on my passion.

I decided to go to school without direction just to have a degree in my pocket for a safety net and guess what. . . I don’t use it. My final year of my bachelors came and I had no passion for any career options available in sociology and psychology. I discussed it with friends constantly and stressed because I was aimless. I felt like a helpless failure with no future in sight. I jumped between career ideas all the time. At one point, I wanted to be a chiropractor, a sociology teacher, a marriage and family counselor, a sociologist for the UN (that’s a big one), a school counselor, etc. The point is I had no direction and these all sounded nice but none were my passion. All of these jobs have in common job security, decent pay, more time with family (some more than others), and low risk factor. All of these things sound so boring to me. 

Through all of the time spent trying to decide what my passion was, I was cooking constantly. I was learning how to cook dishes I had never tried cooking. I was working with flavors I didn’t think I could pull off. I was figuring out that I am a terrible baker. I was daydreaming about what I would cook for supper. I was thinking about how to build a recipe from scratch I was imagining myself as a chef. I was bragging about a culinary class I had taken 4 years ago. I was cooking for friends and family and soaking in the compliments that may or may not be due to southern hospitality, but I like to think my food was delicious like they said. I think you get the point. I was ignoring my obvious passion and listening to everyone else’s passion for my life. My last wrong career idea was deciding to be a chiropractor. I came to this career because I met this really cool chiropractor who had taken the less beaten path in the chiro-world and I thought that was awesome! I admired his ability to say screw my industry; I am doing this my way. As a directionless young padawan, I decided I would do the same IN HIS INDUSTRY. I still wasn’t catching onto the obvious.

Days came and went until my graduation was nearing. The day it finally clicked, I was sitting listening to the chiropractor selling his career path to me. He was so sure of his passion and excited that I was interested however, I wasn’t interested. As he spoke I just imagined myself standing over someone examining what needed to be fixed and no joy was sparked. I didn’t see myself doing what he did and I definitely didn’t see myself loving it. As I continued to listen, my usual daydream of me in a chef’s white’s standing over a dish I had just made and the usual spark of joy came. In this moment, I decided to forget what everyone said, forget the risk, forget everything I ever feared, I’M FOLLOWING MY PASSION. I knew this was the right choice because when I told everyone around me that I was doing culinary again I felt pride and confidence in my decision. I knew that even though I still had little direction that I would definitely find that direction.

Eventually the excitement of my “new” found career choice wore and I started to fall back into the similar fears of not knowing what to do. I still hated the idea of working in a restaurant and had no clue what the alternative would be, but I still went and worked in two restaurants. The first restaurant was nothing special just a hotel restaurant that had a lot of traffic, but the second restaurant was a french five star restaurant that I could easily say was one of the worst jobs I will work in my life even having worked retail before. The good thing about this job is that it confirmed that I hate working in restaurants. That to me is a very important step because I could finally rule that out of my possible jobs. What was bad is that I lost my mojo really fast and again reverted back to that same linear mentality of the food industry. Since then I have been searching for what my direction in food is and I have finally come to a conclusion that is pretty cool in my opinion. From this moment on, whatever I want to try and do within the food industry whether it is working with a caterer, working with a butcher, learning how to bake with a professional baker, attempting to be a private chef, opening a cafe, selling food using social media, being a food influencer on YouTube or attending culinary school I am going to do it. I may do these things 5 months at a time or a couple years at a time. What matters is that I do what I am passionate about and from there learn what difference I make to the food industry that I love and hate so much. It is risky, it has no stability, and I could fail BUT at least I am trying to move forward in finding my calling.

What am I doing with my life? The current goal is to enroll into culinary school, to pursue a degree that will help with my networking, to expand my knowledge that I so lack of the food industry, to learn techniques of cooking that I am eager to use, and to develop a sense of who I am. This is my first step of many steps into a future full of delicious food and figuring out what my impact will be in this crazy unpredictable world.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this, and I hope this inspires you to pursue what you care most about. Just remember you have to do what you hate before you know what you love.