This is the age where everyone says, “the world is your oyster”, that life is full of endless possibilities and opportunity. Whoever came up with that phrase has clearly never had to shuck an oyster. I remember shucking my first oysters, and honestly, I haven’t had to shuck that many in my short career so far. As I struggled with the closed, sharp, rocky oyster shell, I thought about this phrase. Maybe life is like that - closed, rocky, difficult, but after the hard work comes the reward (if oysters are your thing).
Although I recognize that I am just getting started, it is still good to be able to look back and think about all the things I have learned from a quarter century of doing this thing called life. I think I’d rather call this 25 things I am at least beginning to learn but are still a process. 25 things I am still learning and need to be reminded of. Without further ado, here we go!
1.To own your creativity, and show up as your authentic self
11 years ago I made silly, goofy cooking videos. When I say goofy, they were over-the-top goofy and silly. That was my style and I was just beginning to discover it! After a few years I stopped and was embarrassed. I went a few years without making videos. Going back and watching them now, I’ve realized I am exactly the same person, but I’ve learned to harness that humor and creativity and make a platform from it while still showing up as my authentic self whether I'm getting 3 likes or 3,000!
2.Leadership is way, way, way harder than I ever could have imagined
I could try to fit this into a few sentences, but I can’t, so instead I wrote a whole ass book about it. To sum it up, you’re no longer responsible for only your actions, but everyone else’s too. To watch everyone in motion during a busy day, knowing you’re “in charge” of a fast paced team, and seeing the respect come from your peers makes it all worth it.
3. You can’t prove yourself by doing it all
You'll just end up being scattered and not doing anything fully or properly. Do a few things properly. Excel in one job. Take it from someone who worked 90 hours a week between 3 jobs.
4.Teaching yourself out of a job is the best thing you can do for your career
It's one thing to feel proud after crushing the diner rush, it's another thing to watch the people you trained crushing it just as hard. For a while, I took pride in being the best on grill. I received so many compliments on steaks and for a while I considered it my "specialty". It was honestly hard to let go moving up to more of a leadership role because it's impossible to successfully run a kitchen from a full grill. You need to be able to move around and put out fires, and with that you need to have someone else who can rock your station just as well as you. The truth is: you cannot progress in anything if you are holding on to all your current responsibilities. The only way up is to train up the next person to take on some of those while you move up and on!
5. Question Everything
Question the mainstream narrative on everything. I'm not saying you have to agree or disagree with it, but at least question.
6.Marriage will not go exactly how you expect. That’s the whole point.
It’s about two imperfect people growing together and working through things. The truth is you will not be the same person in five years (We've known each other for 6, married for 4!), and that's a good thing! In many ways I am the same and an entirely different person than the 21-year-old in this photo and so is he.
7.Find your people
Whatever this looks like - online, in person, at work. Find people who share your values. Find people who disagree and can challenge those beliefs. Find the people who make you say, "these are my people."
8.It’s ok for goals to change and desires to shift. It doesn’t mean you’ve given up.
I still write this with a tinge of embarrassment, but I have to get real on here to hopefully show you guys that this is ok. When I was 17 I was 100% convinced I would go to the Olympics for snowboarding. (insert face palm). I was dead set. I had all the affirmations, I literally re-located my life and picked a college solely base on proximity to snow. I didn't have a lot of natural talent, but damnit I had hard work and to me, that was all I needed. I decided in my mind that 2018 or 2022 would be my debut Olympics (double facepalm). The worst part? My skills weren't even close.
I gave it everything I had. I told everyone about my goals because I heard if you tell people about your dreams they are more likely to happen. You guys, I am literally so embarrassed to be writing this. Not because I am not even competing in snowboarding anymore, but because of how I look back and think about how hard I truly believed and how far off my skills were from my beliefs. But you know what? I shouldn't be.
Desires shift, goals change, and this doesn't always look like giving up. I never "gave up" on my "dream". I still do have exactly the same drive, passion, and hard work. My character and personality has greatly matured since then and I am happy with the person I am today, even if I still haven't landed a backflip on my snowboard.
9.If the steak can find the time to rest so can you
I wish I took my own advice but hey, that's what I said at the beginning of this list. 25 things I am still learning. I have opened up about burnout on my page before. I guess I'm one of those, "you don't know your limit until you push yourself to find it" people. Although this is still something I struggle with, I am getting better at allowing myself to spend a day off truly doing nothing.
“Love what you do and never work another day” is a lie. Love what you do and you’ll work even harder because you care, and overall you’ll be more fulfilled but that doesn’t mean you won’t need a break.
10.If you don’t have time to organize you definitely don’t have time to work slower because everything is disorganized
Take this from someone who used to be the queen of being disorganized. I'm getting so much better at this but there's still so far to go!
11.Respect gets respect
This is huge. How do you gain respect as a leader in any setting? By barking orders at people from a desk? By telling people what to do and booting them if they don't? I tell a few different stories about this in my book, and people who have helped me learn this. You respect and serve the people you are supposed to lead, and their respect will follow.
12.You don’t have to be amazing at your hobbies. It’s ok to just enjoy them
Playing on #8 from this list. I still snowboard. I still live in a ski town and get out there regularly during the winter. Snowboarding has always been fun for me, but for a few years I was so focused on myself and competing. Now, whenever I get out there, I have one goal and one goal only: to enjoy myself and have fun!
13.Anyone can publish a book, and I hope more people do
I have realized that I truly enjoy reading the memoirs of ordinary people. While I was editing my own manuscript last year, I did a few trade offs with other aspiring authors and we would read each others' drafts. Most of them were regular people like me. I truly believe everyone has a story to tell. My life was boring. My memoir is about me at a few different jobs. All I do in the book is work. Still, many have told me it's a fun read. It's all about capturing the ordinary. In all seriousness if you have a story and want to get it out there I can give you some resources that helped me!
14.That being said, it is so much work
So, so much work. When you self-publish, you're also the marketer, editor, designer, PR person, publisher, ISBN supplier, legal researcher, and many other roles. If you go with a publisher, there's still the work of getting accepted (and probably rejected so many more times). Oh, and let's not forget actually writing the thing. Even if you hire people for these things you still have to have a vision and actually arrange the people to make these things all possible.
15.Go for it even if you’re not qualified
Just FYI, there are people out there less qualified than you, doing the things you want to do just because they believed in themselves. Statistically, women don't apply for a job or next level unless they meet 100% of the requirements, while men tend to go for it if they meet 60% of the requirements. Ladies, let's stop rejecting ourselves and show up!
16.Social media isn’t all bad, but it needs limits
It does need limits and can be used as a comparison trap, but I've realized it can also be a great way to build community, find others going through the same experiences. It is a good idea to have a look at your screen time and consider taking specific times off all social media. Maybe a time frame each day or one day a week. It's good not to be at its every beck and call 24/7.
17.Don’t leave your prep for between tickets
This is a metaphor for life. We think we'll have time later, but stuff happens and we don't.
18.Talking negative about people behind their back will get you nowhere
Oof, this is another huge one and something I struggled with for a while. It's fun and seems totally harmless. And besides, if it's true then there's no harm. Wrong. Wrong Wrong. First, when you talk badly about people behind their back, the people you're talking to, maybe these are even people you're supposed to be leading, will wonder what you say behind their back. And even if they don't think that way, they may treat the person being talked about differently. I heard someone describe his wife as "only ever having good things to say about other people", and that really stuck with me and is a goal of mine these days. As a leader, I could even argue it's my job to break up these conversations or change the narrative and interject with something positive about the person being talked about. Easier said than done.
19.Co-workers will make or break a job
I could be slogging away at a Saturday lunch service, in a hot kitchen, tickets non-stop since opening, but still laughing and having the time of my life simply because of the people I get to spend it with. I cannot count the number of times I've been at a job, laughing so hard I can barely breathe. To me, these are the moments that make me stay.
20.Imposter syndrome is real but it doesn’t have to be debilitating.
For those of you who are new to my page, imposter syndrome, in my own words is basically feeling like everything you've accomplished and are doing well in life is just because of luck and you're really not competent or qualified to be doing any of the things you're doing. It's constantly feeling the need to prove yourself by out-working everyone else because hard work is all you have to give. And deep down, you're waiting for the moment everyone discovers you're a fraud and shouldn't be where you are. It is a real phenomenon that scientists have studied and proven.
Does this sound familiar? If so you're not alone. I post about it a lot and my goal is to help myself and others through it through humor and simply recognizing it and calling it out!
21.Life is too short to make “healthy versions” of all your favorite food
Also going a little deeper and cringer with this one. I used to be a self proclaimed health nut. People literally called me that and I was proud to be one. I was always on keto or paleo or gluten free or the latest diet, and it wasn't even about weight or appearance for the most part. I thought I was doing myself justice being all "healthy".
Let me tell you this, right now, eating freely with no restrictions has made me the healthiest and happiest I have ever been. If you want zucchini noodles and coconut flour pizza crust and that's truly what you want go for it. If you aren't allergic to the real thing and the real thing is what you want, don't force something or pretend it's exactly the same. Please, I spent years convincing myself all these lettuce buns and keto desserts were "exactly the same" but I was only so far removed from the real thing I didn't even remember what they were like. Diet culture is ingrained in every aspect of life its hard to even recognize anymore. Remember that mental health affects all your health.
Breaking free took me a while over time, but I would say the biggest things that helped me come out of it were travel and becoming a professional cook.
22.It’s ok to turn a childhood passion into a job. It will not kill the fun
Not saying this is what everyone does, but it's always worth the shot! Take it from someone who used to say, "I like cooking but wouldn't do it professionally, otherwise I might hate cooking." and now bases her entire personality off being a professional cook ;)
23.The haters will be the loudest, but always find the voices worth listening to
I'm not just writing this because of all the "STFU and cook" and "weak ass b***h" comments/dms I've received having a platform on instagram. This is true in real life and having an online presence only magnifies it because people with no profile picture and a private account feel emboldened to attack strangers. In real life too though, there will be people who talk about you behind your back (see #18) and project their own insecurities onto those they feel threatened by. Just because the haters are the loudest doesn't mean you're not on the right track. Find the voices worth listening to.
24.It’s ok to cry in the walk in sometimes
There's nothing wrong with getting beat down, having a cry sesh, wherever that is, getting back up, and kicking ass. It's ok to feel and express what you are actually feeling.
25.The first draft is going to suck.
Do you ever look back at something you created or did in the past and cringe, not only because it was bad but because you thought it was GOOD at the time? Just me?
I thought the first draft of my memoir was great. I literally thought I would hire an editor to help a few little points and correct my grammar and that would be it. You guys. Thanks to my amazing editor's feedback and asking of very tough questions, I ended up scrapping and re-writing entire sections and chapters. It was painful to get so much constructive criticism on something I genuinely thought was good. I didn't even know how to respond to my editor so I kind of ghosted him for a few weeks. He had to check if I was ok because he knew how hard he was on me. The end result of this was an entirely different book.
Whatever our medium is, looking back at past work and giving ourselves the facepalm is a sign you're improving. If I look back at pieces I wrote 5 years ago and it's the same, then I haven't improved. If I cringe thinking about how much better it is now, then isn't that good?
And I have to come to terms with the fact that in the future, I may read my book, "Nice Work, Boys!" and look at the videos I am creating now and I may cringe. I might include this post right here as "reasons I was dumb when I was 25." I may look at the food I plate now or the way I lead and think, Oh my gosh, I thought that was GOOD? Thank God I've gotten better. Life is a first draft. Your early stages of something may suck. But all that matters is we are improving and able to give grace to our past selves. Again - this whole list is what I am still learning or only beginning to learn. Easier said than done.