Recently, I have dipped my toe into the cutthroat world of house rental; where friends have warned one must not only have good credit, but a clean bill of health, a permanent job with salary in excess of 75k and have prepared a short dramatic reading, just to view a cupboard on the A6.
Well lads – I am here for the dramatic reading.
I have very much adopted a bring-it-on vibe.
Underneath this sparkly tattooed exterior lies an astute Capricorn-af business woman who prides herself on having her balance sheet under control.
So why is there still an icky feeling in my chest? The answer is, for I am just a bar tender.
Sorry what now? This makes no sense! You retired your bar blade in 2017 Kate! And also, bar tenders/hospitality staff are incredibly underpaid and under-valued – why so cruel?
All the above is correct. So where does this statement come from?
Let us take a trip down memory lane…
Many a year ago this adorable little goth had recently moved to Manchester and was working full time in a crazy restaurant full of crazy people. And she was having the time of her life. I loved the bustle of work, and that all my friends were in the same place. On my nights off I would go watch little indie gigs at Night & Day or Roadhouse, and I had pipe dreams of my writing becoming the voice of a generation… and/or a yoga teacher. I was really quite content.
Around this time, I started dating a man who I found very handsome and very funny. He had an office job and was captivated by my restless life. He regaled in all the weird and wonderful stories from behind the bar. A night owl, he enjoyed me coming by for late night chats over rich red wine and foot massages after work. Through my blog writing gig I got him tickets to see his favourite band at their sold out show. We had fun. I liked this guy.
One sunny early evening we went out for drinks. In between sips of his lager, he very casually dropped the following into conversation –
Yeah I mean, this isn’t really a relationship is it. It’s not really going anywhere. I want to like, buy a bigger house and go on holidays. And you’re…well you’re just a bar tender.
Oh. Ok then. Thank you very much.
I would love to say that at this point common sense prevailed, that I threw my pint over his baldy head and walked away to the tune of Irreplaceable, blocking his number. But of course, I did not (I did eventually throw a curry at him, but that is another story).
This throw-away comment has silently negated my life for the subsequent 7 years. Not because it meant that I would never have his self-righteous babies (I am obviously so very sad about this), but because in my mind he was telling me that my life, that I worked hard for and enjoyed, was not good enough. Any insecurity that may have been bubbling under the surface was suddenly firmly cemented.
The story I began telling myself was that I was not good enough. I was not doing well enough. I was failing. I was not worthy of being loved or respected, because I was just a bar tender.
I have read that last line over and over again to run it through my body. It is wholly inaccurate and deeply disrespectful. It caused me to feel a deep sense of shame when talking about myself to those with coveted sit-down jobs. No matter what challenge I faced or what I achieved at work, it was always there chipping away at my confidence. Even now, I never expect to be able to do certain things or qualify for certain opportunities.
The other day I sat down to finish off my 20/21 tax return (‘but that is not due until next year’ - told you, gal knows her balance sheet) and do my predictions for the Summer. I winced as pushed enter on the totals, wondering why I had bothered writing ‘I am a successful and conscious businesswoman’ on my fridge door affirmations.
There was no need to worry. I had done well. Not ‘by-the-seat-of-her-pants-survival’ well. I had thrived. Never has a spreadsheet made me so emotional. I knew how hard I had worked, how much I tried, how much time and effort I had invested to create something special. Seeing it on electronic paper broke the spell. I was finally a successful grown-up with a successful grown-up job!
But that is not wholly accurate either now is it. My value does not come from the numbers on a spreadsheet. My self-worth is not based on my credit score.
I am worthy of love and respect regardless of whether I stand up for a living.
So are you.
I wanted to write this down and share this with you as this is how we break spells. This is how we extract ourselves from our stories, because often the story we are telling ourselves simply is not accurate. We can play down these small, insignificant comments from small, insignificant people, but often that shit really does hurt. It sticks to our internal narrative and if it goes unchecked, we can build a whole identity around it. And trust me, that is not fun.
Maybe this has resonated with you. Maybe there is a story that you are telling yourself that is keeping you small, that makes you feel any of the rubbish emotions listed above. I invite you to try writing it down, reading it aloud, taking some breaths, read it again – and notice how it moves through you. Feel free to message me if you would like a hand doing this.
You are not just anything. You are anything you bloody well want to be.
You are important, valued, and valuable. And I hope you can see that because the world needs more your magic.
NB/ For anyone unsure, bar tenders are more than capable of buying houses and going on holidays.
Picture at the top is little old 'just a bar tender' me circa 2015/16 - adorable aren't I ;)