I’m all for leaving the past in the past. And clearly, working at Subway isn’t the worst thing that can happen to a person, but if a bad past experience got you to your current happy place, be thankful for it and share it with others. Use it to connect with people and encourage them out of their rut.
In January 2011, right after finishing my Bachelor’s degree (in December 2010), I was having the hardest time finding a job. I was quickly running out of money and couldn’t afford to pay rent as I continued to job search. I was going to have to do the unthinkable… I was going to have to move back home. Every college graduate’s nightmare was becoming my reality.
One month later, I moved back into my mom’s house and was desperate to save up enough money to move back out. I’d already applied to graduate school but was still waiting to be accepted so I had to start saving up just in case. I immediately got certified as a substitute but knew that it would be a little while before I actually started teaching and even longer before I’d receive my first paycheck. It’s a very small town so my job prospects were limited. All I knew was that my goal was to quickly make some money (not to impress anyone) and I was willing to do just about anything to get myself out of there. Before I knew it, I was a substitute teacher by day and a Subway sandwich artist by night *cues horror film music*. I had worked in food service before, but this was different; I had a degree now. I shouldn’t be there, working with them. Right? Wrong. I was there to learn a valuable lesson and to be tested. And boy, was I tested!
Exam day came when a lady and her daughter brought their snooty attitudes with them to lunch and proceeded to treat me as if I was some worthless peasant. In the midst of our argument (because I just refused to stand for that sort of treatment) I remember bragging about my degree and them laughing. In that moment, that piece of paper didn’t matter because it didn’t change the fact that I was in an apron and visor, serving them. I was angry and I was embarrassed. I had a college education but I had the same job as the woman in the abusive relationship, the one with a drug problem, and the one hiding from police. But I needed to be right there in that chaos to motivate me to this very moment. In those few short months before starting graduate school, I learned that:
- People will judge you based on the very little that they can see
- People fear what they don’t know and mock what they don’t understand
- You have to do what’s best for you, regardless of what it looks like to others
- Be patient. Be understanding. Be faithful.
- Everyone is in their current situation for a reason. No reason is any worse or more excusable than the next.
- Acknowledge what others have been through in life, but don’t define them by their current situation.
- Education is what you do with it.
- ***It’s a hard fall from that high horse. Get over yourself.***
Sometimes it’s much easier to just forget the days when life sucked. But until you embrace that experience, grow and learn from it, life will keep teaching you those hard lessons over and over again. If you find yourself constantly going through tough times, it’s because you’re not learning what’s important. Life will never let you get away with skipping or cheating. So instead of being the class clown, do yourself a favor: pay attention, take notes, grasp the lesson, and advance to a higher level. Oh, and never argue with a woman in silver pleather pants.