Ask any bartender and I’m sure they’ll tell you, aside from the occasional headaches, for the most part they LOVE what they do for a living. Whatever the reasons, bartending is one of those professions that hardly feels like one; even during the busiest times. At times it’s hard work but it’s usually more social than strenuous. The best nights feel like a party, and the worst still beat a day at the office. Most bartenders stay in the business for several years, decades even, until it starts to feel like a job.
Every bartender has bad days, slow shifts, unruly guests, or a shitty co-worker here and there, but these things are expected. If, however, they find themselves having a hard time mustering up a smile, start showing up later and later for their shifts, ranting to no end about customers, and just generally in a bad mood whenever they have to go to work, it’s time to leave. The party has ended. Burn out is the usual culprit. It becomes physically and mentally exhausting to give so selflessly all of the time. And, depending on where you work, that process can be sped up when you feel unsupported.
I left the bartending business a year and a half ago, rather unceremoniously, giving two weeks notice to my job. After training my replacement, I walked out alone on the last day of week three. No farewell party, no parade, no acknowledgment of my achievement. Just a quiet exit at days end. It was time.
Having given almost a decade to the profession, it’s changed and I’d changed. And though I knew I would miss it, it no longer served the same purpose; my life’s purpose had changed. Where it was once fun and energizing, lately I had started to feel drained, like it was zapping the life outta me. I knew I wouldn’t be done for good–a few gigs here and there–but I’d reached the end of the road where this was the main thing I’d do for a living.
Before quitting, I took a two week vacation, just to clear my head and revive my spirit. My two weeks without were glorious, stress free; I felt renewed and refreshed, until it was time to go back. The minute I stepped foot behind the bar, I was welcomed back with an overwhelming sense of depression. I’m not a drinker, but I seriously began to contemplate taking shots before my shifts just to take the edge off of having to be there. The customers noticed as well. I’d lost my ability to fake it; no, maybe I’d lost my desire to. That’s when I knew it was truly over. Two months later I was walking out the door for good.
The same kind of burn out happens in relationships. You may began to notice that you’re unhappy being with your significant other. You find yourself relieved when your plans need to be cancelled, or your time together is cut short. You stop having anything nice to say about them when talking to friends. It gets harder and harder to be around that person, and you’re almost acting when you have to be. The things that made you happy about your relationship now either bug the shit out of you or aren’t enough. Phone calls and texts fill you with dread. You notice the relationship is not what it had been, and instead feels like a job you’re obligated to go to. And your partner may notice too. The shift in your mood will be obvious.
Many people get caught in this web, both professionally and romantically, having no idea how to get out nor what’s waiting on the other side. It doesn’t seem ok to up and be done with this thing you’ve invested so much time and energy into. Bad days and tough times are to be expected but the hard truth is when your relationship no longer serves a legitimate purpose, and instead causes you stress and unhappiness,–when it starts to feel like a job,–it’s best to give notice and walk away.
So what’s your barometer? Do you weigh the good against the bad, or do you measure the degree of unhappiness you feel, when deciding whether or not to give yourself to something or someone?