What is this “big break” people speak of? Some job or something that swirls through post haste and gives you tons of money, tons of recognition? Sounds good to me I suppose. Admittedly, sometimes I get enraptured thinking about it. But here’s the thing: If I think my career will advance only if some humungoid dream job drops from a tree, I am setting myself up for upset. There is a ton of planting to do before the big breaks crop up.
I should be rockin’ the fast cash and mad props, right? I wish. The breaks I get are small. They come from extensive research and persistence; each time I email a resume, they can expect a torrent of follow-ups until my box goes from nil to one. So far, they yield relatively small but slowly increasing increments of money. Some offer deep well springs of experience, and the humbling chance for know-how that has nothing to do with know-me, if you catch my drift: work now, talk later. And as for recognition, I think it’s just a by-product of being good at what I do. When I get a compliment I like it, but I try my hardest to forget it immediately. Ego mollification is not the primary thing to strive for here. Respect comes naturally from the crusade to perfect what I love to do. I want to open doors so I want employers to see desirable qualities in me, sure. But being noticed is not the important thing here; staying on my path is–no matter how sluggish it feels.
Until that call comes in, until the job offer of a lifetime pops up, I turn over every rock, big or small, every tiny potential possibility. I search. I mentally and physically prepare for the off chance that things will suddenly accelerate because hey, we all need to keep dreaming. I weather the upset when something exciting falls through. I remind myself to be content when something small finally arises. I bump my man Kurtis to cheer me up. I always have just enough to keep me going, just enough to keep the fire alight.
My career is not just going to explode out of nowhere. At least not now. That has been made abundantly clear, thank you very much. So I adjust to the pace. I inch along, foraging for the little chances, stepping on to the little stones, making my way up. It is a slow game of focus and discipline through the mundanity of each timecard punch. Every catering gig, every stage (pron. stahj), every meal cooked, every adrenaline rush, every battle out of the weeds, is a tiny little half-step. Each skill, whether learned for the first time, or repeated for the thousandth, is another piece of the puzzle.
In my reality the whole of life moves slow, and daily life is super fast.
In the kitchen, the work is breakneck–the breaks come leisurely.
I am not trying to sound dismal, shattering your dreams for becoming an overnight rock-star. I am speaking from my truth. I must be patient and dedicated. I must trust in, and develop my talents. I must be sure it will all pay off, somehow, someday. This is my lesson.