This week, I’m going on a much-needed vacation. As I write this, I’m actually in the car on the way to the lake house.
I haven’t taken time off since October of 2020. Since then, as I’ve talked about in the past, I’ve been working approximately 70 hours every week. Roughly 40 of those have been working in the service industry each week. Working that much on a consistent basis—with so many hours being dedicated to physically demanding labor—eventually takes its toll.
Lately, I’ve been feeling burnt out, especially when it comes to working in a restaurant. I’ve been working in customer service, from retail to restaurants, since I was 15 years old. I’m used to working with guests, serving others, and becoming “customer service Kayla” for several hours at a time. Over the past few months, though, it’s become more and more difficult to get myself in that mindset. When I have a bad day at work, I carry it home with me. I used to be able to separate work and home life, but lately, it’s been hard to disconnect the way I’m treated as a service industry worker as opposed to a human being.
After a long shift, I feel heavy, weighed down by hours of working tirelessly to please everyone at once. I strive to give great service to every guest who walks through the door while also keeping in mind that we, like most restaurants, are understaffed. I try to be mindful of how often and how quickly I ring in food and drinks because, again, we are short-staffed on servers, bartenders, and kitchen staff. I try to get to every table in a timely manner, serve every guest as if they are my top priority, and avoid overwhelming the staff with orders. It’s physically and psychologically exhausting. Regardless of how hard I try to keep everyone happy, someone always needs something else. Restaurants often run like a well-oiled machine, but as soon as one small thing goes wrong, you’re making up for it and playing catch-up for hours.
After doing that for 40 hours every week for 13 months straight, anyone would be exhausted. Since reopening after COVID, I’ve taken no more than 5 consecutive days off work, and the last time I did that was 8 months ago. My body needs a break. My mind needs a break. My mental health needs time to recover.
This week, I’m taking that time. I have a full week off from the restaurant, and I’m spending 5 days of it on a lake with people I love, celebrating my partner’s mom’s birthday. I’m so excited to stop taking care of other people and start taking care of myself, at least for a week.
We all need time to rest and recuperate. We all need time to reset. Take that time for yourself.
As always, stay safe + stay healthy.