I find myself in an extremely weird place in life.
Looking back at old journal entries and posts I’ve made over the years has really made me realize how much I have changed in such a short period of time. And that change has absolutely resulted in some serious emotional instability and I’d like to say trauma.
I was a strong and confident person in University, I knew I was meant for something big. I knew that I would own a business of some kind, that I’d climb that ladder and be a great leader.
Typically as a student, I sat at the back and didn’t really speak my mind much. I did the minimum and got a decent grade for it. I was in a program for Tourism and Recreation Management and there were maybe 35 students in my program. I got along with everyone, but I wasn’t really friends with very many of them. I kept to myself, had my small group of friends from my dorm room and just enjoyed my chill University life.
, In our program, there was a Leadership course. I LOVED it. I obsessed over it. I killllled that class. And I’m pretty sure I surprised some people in my program. I was with these people for four years and they never saw me light up like I did in that class.
I thrived when it came to the topic of leadership. It was my calling. I wanted so badly to be in charge, make decisions, change work cultures, be a great and loved leader.
So I did everything I could to make that happen. Every summer I worked in a resort in Banff National Park in Alberta. I made sure that every time I went back, I went back in a better position than the year before. I sought out responsibility, shadowing opportunities, and I did my best work every day.
It paid off.
When I graduated University, I went through the life crisis of WTF am I going to do now? Then my dad saved me.
The economy was BOOMING in my hometown, my brother had opened a fast food restaurant and his business was so busy he couldn’t keep up. Dad saw a golden opportunity for me in that field too, plus with my experience in the service industry, my degree in business in that field, it made sense.
So in 2014, at 23 years old, I started the process of applying to franchises with my dad. We landed two, and I picked the more complicated one (naturally).
By the time we were ready to open I was 25, it was 2016.
And the economy had crashed.
We were in. There really was no turning back at this point.
For the first six months, we were busy. But I had my training wheels on and mismanaged labour and food cost, it was embarrassing, I was so ashamed. But I learned from that lesson. I had to.
After that first busy six months, and the wasted opportunity to make some real money, it started to slow down. I got really good at managing my budgets. I refused to allow that initial mess up to define me and I refused to give up.
I worked my ass off. I struggled to find and keep good staff, I struggled with increasing minimum wage costs, increasing food costs, increasing stress. I landed myself in the hospital once because I had a headache that lasted a
week and my face was so swollen it looked like I was having a stroke.
My personal financial situation was scary, I was living month to month, paying myself only the absolute bare minimum. It didn’t help that I had a ‘partner’ (lazy ass ex) that drained me financially too and refused to look for a job.
I made a lot of mistakes, but I also made a lot of really good calls. I learned how to run a business in a depressed economy and actually turn a profit. Something I will always be proud of is the fact that we kept going, we stayed open, we made money, I did not fail.
I broke up with my loser boyfriend. Got good with myself. Dated. Had some fun. Joined Rotary. Became the president of Rotary (mistake). And just made due with what I had.
Finally, the government raised the minimum wage to $15/hr, and I simply couldn’t hold on anymore. I was already working 6 days a week, opening every day and staying to close most days. I was trying to run a Rotary club, and not doing a good job of it. I was at my end.
I had to lay off the majority of my students and handicapped workers because I simply could not afford to pay them $15/hr. And that broke me.
My dreams of being this amazing leader, this mentor that helped people grow, this incredible visionary that did what was best for my staff not necessarily the business vanished. Economically, I could not be that person anymore.
My heart was broken.
It was right around Fall of 2018, shortly after I laid off a bunch of my staff and minimum wage went up, that I decided I was done.
I couldn’t see past the next day, but I knew I was done and I had to build up the courage to tell my dad that’s time to sell.
Then I met Gregory. We saved each other. I felt I was drowning in a sea of responsibility and he showed up with a lifeboat. He was working away his life and spending his money on projects he never had time to work on, I gave him a future.
Before Greg, I knew that the restaurant needed to go, but I didn’t have a clue what I would do when it was sold. I was terrified. Bug Greg gave me a new vision of the future, with kids and pets, and love.
With that vision of the future, I approached my dad about selling the business. Initially, he didn't want to. Sunk cost is a real thing. But I knew that I did not have the energy left in me to keep going and that we didn’t have the funds to keep it going if things got worse.
My wonderful brother stepped in and took time to learn my business and be a pair of hands to be able to give me some time off. I felt so guilty about taking any time off, but I needed that time and I will forever be grateful to him.
I was a mess, I would show up to the restaurant and just burst into tears. I did the bare minimum of my responsibilities for the Rotary club. I went home and cried and binge ate daily.
Finally, we found a buyer. And like that I was packing up and moving to Kelowna in the spring of 2019.
That decision was on a crazy whim, Greg and I just picked a random city in BC and made the commitment to move there. It was fast, I’m pretty sure his family thought we were nuts, my family knew I needed to leave town. And it was the best thing we could have done.
I tried to get back into the hotel business, but really struggled with working for other people again. I didn’t really know what I wanted. I was lost.
Greg and I started to dream. We started to talk about getting some land, having some chickens, being out in the quiet. At first, I wasn’t sure about it. Then the dream grew on me. Finding a little bit of peace somewhere, something that was all ours. We started to look at real estate in BC, then...
Whoops - COVID.
All I am thinking at this point is 1. THANK GOD I SOLD MY RESTAURANT. And 2. I LOST MY JOB, GREG LOST HIS JOB. WHAT DO WE DO???
We moved back home.
And here we are, Greg was back to work really quickly after he was initially laid off and I found a job first at a furniture store as a Sales Manager (ew sales, not for me) and now as a Night Auditor at a hotel (ahhh back in my safe space).
So here I sit. On night shift. Writing this.
Feeling totally at odds with my life. I went from this ambitious know-it-all, to a professional business owner/Rotarian, to a nobody working night shift at a hotel where my only human contact is tired dudes waking up for their 6 am shift for work.
At 23 I had it all figured out. Restaurant. Money. Husband. Travel. Retire.
At 30, I have NO IDEA what my future holds.
Greg and I are now engaged. We have a dog named Gus (sooooo cute). And we are still looking for our little piece of paradise.
Life changes. Really fast. And my vision of leadership seems to be gone. But is it? I don’t know.
What I do know is middle management is not a place for truly being a leader. Owning a business in a poor economy isn’t either. And right now I’m chilling by myself at night trying to stay awake, with nobody to lead.
Life takes you in weird places, nothing will ever go to plan, planning is pointless actually.
I’ve become this jaded, dark, snarky person. I like her. But I do miss the wide eyed, ambitious, annoying younger version of me somedays too.
Life is funny that way, isn’t it.