I took the plunge and quit my serving job (and here’s why!)

I took the plunge and quit my serving job (and here’s why!)

For the last 2 years in Toronto I’ve been working as as server. I know… an actor working in a restaurant? What a shocker. It’s pretty cliche but there’s a reason behind it. Working in a restaurant is (supposed to be) the easiest job to hold as an actor because your schedule is fairly flexible and it’s easy to get time off should you book a role or get an audition. What I quickly learned over the last two years, is that that actually isn’t the case. Unless you have a pocket full of four leaf clovers and a horseshoe hanging around your neck, it’s really not that easy to even hold down a restaurant job while pursuing an acting career. As much as restaurant management likes to pretend they support you and your dreams, when it comes down to it they really want employees who are willing to make the restaurant their end all be all. They want reliable staff who are going to be available at their beck and call, and the last thing they want is someone who’s going to not show up because they got an audition. Unless you work at a big corporate restaurant (like Cactus Club or Earls) where there are a bajillion staff on the schedule and it’s as easy as snapping your fingers to get shifts covered, it’s actually really not that easy.

I was working in a small restaurant/bar here in Toronto that had a staff of about 8 servers. This meant when we had a busy day, every single one of us were scheduled to work. What that meant was should I happen to get an audition, I was screwed. Well, the restaurant was screwed because they would be short staffed, and I was screwed because I would be out the job. Restaurants want reliable staff, and that’s totally fair! No one wants to hire someone they can’t rely on. And the trouble with being an actor, is that acting will always be your number one. When companies or restaurants hire you, they know that. They know they come second, and that can really make things difficult for you. Whether it means getting scheduled less shifts than others who are always available, getting punished when you do need shifts covered for auditions, or what have you.

But it wasn’t even just the fact that the logistics behind holding down a serving job while pursuing an acting career were difficult, I started to realize over the last couple months that I had just fallen out of love with serving. In fact, I think I fell out of love with it long before I moved to Toronto. Before I had even quit the service industry the first time and started working a full time time wine sales job in Edmonton. You might remember this post where I first started talking about my struggles with feeling like my serving job defined me. At the time I had convinced myself that I could start love serving as my side job… as a means to an end while I pursued my acting career. But after months and months of trying to convince myself I could be happy, I realized it just wasn’t for me anymore.

It was fun serving when I was in my early twenties, I’m not going to lie. Back then I loved the culture, I loved the people I worked with, I loved the after work drinks, and I thought the work was easy. But at 29 I was oh so tired of it and it was making me really (REALLY) bitter. I was tired of dealing with people. I was tired of the stupid questions customers ask. I was tired of the repetitiveness that serving is… because let’s be honest, it’s the same thing day after day after day. I realized I wanted to step away and not only have more control of my time build my own schedule, but I needed to not be doing the same thing over and over. There’s a reason why I can’t hold an office job or work a regular 9-5. I need constant stimulation, new challenges, new working environments… I need change. That’s why I love acting so much. No day is the same when it comes to acting, you’re constantly playing different characters, experiencing different emotions, put in different situations, and sometimes even in different worlds!

So I quit my serving job. 

To be honest, I was terrified when I made this move. I had no idea whether I was going to be able to get enough work on the side to support myself financially, and I knew I was taking a big risk. Sure, I wasn’t getting tons of hours at the restaurant I was working at… and I certainly wasn’t making enough money to live in such an expensive city, but at least I knew I had a guaranteed few shifts a week. What if once I left I couldn’t get any work at all? Was I going to have to go back to the restaurant with my tail between my legs and beg for my job back? I thought about it for a long time, and I realized that if I never took the risk I would never be happy.

Well, I’m happy to say that it’s been just over 2 weeks since my last day at the restaurant… and although I was worried things wouldn’t work out I’ve been busier than ever since. I’m now in charge of my own schedule and I’m working way more than I ever did before.  I pick up brand ambassador work and side gigs whenever I am available, and I spend my free time working on my blog and studying acting. I love that I no longer rely on the stress of waiting for a schedule to come out, I can take off any days I want, and I have complete control over what kind of work I do. I have to hustle a hell of a lot more, but I no longer have to stress about what happens if I book a role (I just don’t pick up work!) or need to book time off for travel. I’m always working in new environments, with new people, and doing different types of roles all the time. But the biggest change I’ve noticed, is how much this has affected my overall happiness. When you no longer dread going into work every day, you’re just happier. There was something about the service industry that was eating away at my soul, I felt trapped. And since I left, I’ve never felt freer.

So I guess from now on when someone asks me what do I do as an actor to make money, I no longer have to look ashamed and mumble serving. I’m a freelancer now, and I kind of like the way that sounds :).

 

**This is in no way an insult to any one who has or currently does work in the service industry. Serving is just something I grew out of and no longer felt comfortable or happy doing. If you are also an actor and have been struggling with working a serving job you hate, feel free to reach out to me by email, I would love to discuss my experience so far further with you!**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By the way if you’re wondering what this post has to do with this outfit, the answer is not much really… But there’s something about this gorgeous (and much more risqué than I’m used to) dress that makes me feel like a boss lady.. just like my new employment status. Even better is that it’s by a boss lady owned local (Toronto) brand, Neroli Anonyme. I love supporting local and they have tons of beautiful pieces, so I definitely recommend checking them out!

 

What I Wore:

Dress – c/o Neroli Anonyme // Heels – Expressions (Hudson’s Bay) // Earrings – Aldo // Sunglasses – Aldo

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xoxo

 

 

All photography by Eryn Shea Photography, and special thanks to Lavelle for letting us use your beautiful location to shoot!

 

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15 Comments

  1. October 18, 2017 / 10:46 am

    Congrats again girl on freelancing full-time!! I can 100% relate and am still in that situation where.. I’m sure a lot of people think I blog full-time but I actually bartend about 2-4 days a week as guaranteed money on the side. While it’s only a night gig, I feel like I’m wasting precious time I could be spending on my blog or recharging working a job that neither pays well nor makes me happy. I’ve been contemplating quitting for so long but taking that leap is scary AF.
    So happy you were able to do it. Now.. I just need to take the plunge lol.

    Thanks for sharing boo.
    x Sabrina
    http://mymiaou.com

    • kirsten.wendlandt@gmail.com
      October 18, 2017 / 1:42 pm

      Sabrina, it really is soooo scary but honestly there are so many side gigs you can do that aren’t serving that are on a case by case basis when you need extra cash. If you ever want to sit down and talk about it I’m totally down! I know how much the service industry can drag you down

  2. October 18, 2017 / 3:33 pm

    Congratulations on your new chapter! Such an exciting plunge to take and it sounds like you’re rocking it. xoxo

  3. Meg
    October 22, 2017 / 9:56 pm

    Wow this is so awesome! I’m proud of you for truly following your dreams. It takes so much guts to do that and to trust yourself. Thank you for sharing your story to show everyone that it IS possible.

    http://www.meghanlaurie.com

  4. Valeria
    October 23, 2017 / 12:26 am

    Dear Kirsten, thank you for opening up about your personal experience. I know how stressful can be going to work when you don’t like the job, be it serving or any other job. I know it because I do it… I work part time as a corporate employee, I sort of settled for it because working full time in the fashion and beauty industry would clash with my choice of being there for my daughter. So I turn down a lot of opportunities and invitations because I can take the day off. But on the whole I made this choice for my peace of mind, so I will stick to it as long as I can bear it. On the other hand, you’re a talented actress and your career is in full bloom. I think you made the right choice going for it full time! I wish you the greatest success and happiness! Love, Valeria

  5. October 23, 2017 / 2:50 am

    Hello my friend! I am so happy for you. Follow your dreams and don’t look back. I know it may seem scary sometimes, but just like the amount of slayage in these shots of you, you will prove to everyone how much of a boss lady you are! Beautiful dress btw. Wishing you love, luck, and blessings my friend.
    Love, Dom

  6. October 23, 2017 / 3:54 am

    It’s never easy quitting a job, I totally get what you mean, but so happy that you bit the bullet, did it, and are now happier than ever! I have so much respect for servers, because I’ve been one before and all I remember it being was exhausting! Here’s to you and your future, I wish you all the good things 🙂

    xo candi
    thelollychase.com

  7. October 23, 2017 / 2:35 pm

    congrats on such a huge career move! So glad everything is coming together and working out so well so far! Hoping plenty of work continues to come your way

  8. Simonetta Lein
    October 23, 2017 / 5:25 pm

    I understand you girl and I know that industry is tough. I am freelance myself and I know what is like. Keep on following your dreams and to share

  9. October 23, 2017 / 5:44 pm

    Dear Kirsten, there are times in life when we just have to dare to take that step that we dread ever so much. I took a similar step when I quit my day job with a steady income 6 months ago and I can’t even begin to say what a relief it was. Actually typing down the number 6 mere months sounds like such a short time considering everything I’ve experienced and achieved since. I think it’s vital for your acting career that you took the plunge into the unknown and despite times might get rough financially at times, hang in there. We cannot be fully happy until we pursue the life we dream of and that’s exactly what you’re doing right now. Best of luck to you in your new life!
    Thomas xx

  10. October 24, 2017 / 10:29 am

    First of all – you look incredible and second of all, congratulations on making that decision! It’s not easy…
    I’ve also worked in restaurants in bars years ago and even though some of those jobs were part time ONLY – I was so exhausted from running around on my feet all day I could hardly have time for what I really wanted to do. I know it’s not easy but you’ll be an amazing well-known actress one day! YAY

    Tatyana x
    LAFOTKA

  11. October 25, 2017 / 9:01 am

    So incredible that you took the leap of faith and did that! I am sure that knowing you really have to hustle to make your income now will only motivate you more to further your blogging career! And you are already WINNING at it in my opinion! 🙂

    Keep taking life on like a boss! xx

    Kristin
    http://www.thedelilahblog.com

  12. October 25, 2017 / 1:55 pm

    Omg darling I can relate so so much… especially when I am in the same position right now…. and dreading the decision to quit… but ur post really makes me think positive and maybe it is time to end that painful situation.
    Thank u so much for opening up and for being so brave.
    But look where u are right now…. doing what you love…. I take my hat off

  13. October 28, 2017 / 10:05 am

    I loved reading your story! Go You!

  14. October 30, 2017 / 9:57 am

    This sounds like me just a few months ago, except I was working a government job that I hated and that consumed all my time. I found myself hating to get up on weekdays and always in a crappy mood. Eventually I just said screw it and had faith it would work out and thankfully it did! I am jobless and have never been happier 🙂

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