Hanging Up The Apron

Today marks the beginning of my last week working as a coffee shop barista. Maybe not forever–hey, who knows what the future will bring–but for now. For the foreseeable future.

It’s bittersweet. This is the first job I got in DC, not a week after I made myself at home in a tight, un air-conditioned, vacant loft space in a college friend’s crappy Arlington, Virginia rental house (this isn’t an insult to my college friend–she no longer lives there, but considered it a dump herself. It was an old house that wasn’t well-kept up).

I worked there 15-20 hours a week last summer until I got my temp job in September. During the six months I spent at my 9-5 office job, I worked at the coffee shop on the weekends. My financial well-being was lacking when I moved to DC–teaching in Thailand enriched my life, but certainly not my bank account–and I needed the extra money. Plus, I didn’t know what the future would bring post-temp, and I wanted to ensure I had a back up income. This was an intuitive move–when I started my part-time online teaching job, I needed those coffee shop hours.

I certainly didn’t appreciate the job enough while I had it. In the year and two months of my employment at the coffee shop, I spent more than enough time griping about it. I was hesitant to take the job in the first place–I had already done the barista gig the summer before I moved to Thailand and thought I should try something new. Additionally, I believed that making minimum wage as a college graduate was insulting (granted, DC minimum wage is much higher than the national average, but it was an ego thing–which I’ve since worked to quell). My mom had to give me a pep talk about how IT’S A JOB and you currently don’t have one, which knocked a bit of sense into me. When I got my part-time ESL job and realized I wanted to pursue teaching, I spent more than enough time looking through job postings for additional teaching opportunities, to a future when I wouldn’t have barista at the top of my resume. Also weekends. Oooh, I could not wait until I had a job that didn’t take my weekends away from me.

This summer, I’ve been working a lot on acceptance. Accepting that I’m not where I want to be and that’s okay–that that’s part of being a twenty-something. Hell, that’s part of life sometimes. Accepting that there’s nothing wrong with being a barista at 24, that it is still an important job where I’m helping people (and I’d much rather be helping people in person and moving around at work instead of working in an office all day). It’s been good. It’s been much easier said than done, but I’ve made strides.

As I look back at my time at this coffee shop, I’ve realized how much I’ve learned. I’ve learned a lot about coffee, for one. (Did you know that dark roast has the least amount of caffeine and light roast has the most? More caffeine is extracted from dark roast during the roasting process because it is roasted longer.) I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to work in a busy, team-oriented environment, and I’ve learned how important a good attitude is at work. I’ve met and worked with some great people. I will miss my coworkers. They make my job so much fun. I will miss walking past 1600 Pennsylvania everyday (not because of our UPSTANDING–don’t mind my sarcasm–45th President, but because it’s 1600 PENNSYLVANIA), and I’ll miss serving the Secret Service like it’s nbd (if I haven’t given my coffee shop’s location away yet, go look on a map. It’s not too hard too figure out). I’ll miss serving the regular shop goers, whose orders I know well, and who I’ve gotten to know a little bit.

It’s time to move on, though. I’ve secured a substitute teaching job with a sub staffing agency that serves DC schools. I’m excited and nervous to begin this new journey–excited, because this is what I want to do with my life, and nervous because THIS IS WHAT I WANT TO DO WITH MY LIFE. Additionally, I haven’t taught in a real classroom since Thailand, and I’ve never taught anything other than ESL. How do I interact with students who speak my language?!?!? Ah, I’ll figure it all out. It will be good. Despite my nerves, I’m ready.

It’s time. My time working at a busy, centrally located Downtown DC coffee shop has been an incredible experience, but it’s time to move on.

I feel good about the future. Good things are happening.

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14 Replies to “Hanging Up The Apron”

    1. It’s certainlly been an adventure, and I’m thankful for all I’m taking away from it. However, I’m so looking forward to moving on. Thank you! I’m very excited to see what the future holds.

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  1. Tell you what, I never thought that dark roast would be lighter! how misleading!!! Thanks Britta for that piece of info which will definitely change my morning routine (although I am trying hard to stick to 2 coffees a week!).
    You are doing great Britta, and I know you are heading towards greater and greater adventures. Let me know whenever you ll come and teach in SE Asia again!

    Btw we have moved to Vietnam and so has our blog. We are now at http://www.frenchtouchinhanoi.wordpress.com See you around X

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    1. Happy to share, Estelea! I’m partial to Medium roasts, but actually stopped drinking coffee regularly back in February. I started to notice how much it was contributing to my anxiety, and there was a huge shift in my overall well being when I stopped drinking it daily (at the time I was also drinking 3-4 cups a day, too!). I now drink Chai or Earl Gray tea every morning and only occassionally indulge in coffee.

      I’ll be sure to follow along with you on your journey in Vietnam! So excited to see what life this next chapter in Southeast Asia will bring you. I don’t plan on moving back to Southeast Asia in the near future, but certainly hope to travel more there!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I can completely relate to having to give up your weekends for a job. I haven’t had a free weekend ever since I got this job. (But I love the job, so I guess I shouldn’t complain.)

    Definitely don’t feel down about not being where you want in life at 24; I’m 42, and still not where I want to be. (But I’m closer than I’ve ever been, so that’s something!)

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    1. It does make a difference when you love your job. Being a coffee shop barista certainly isn’t my calling, so working weekends was tough and exhasuting. It was a good experience, though, and I’m glad I had it.

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  3. I am so proud of you, both in your acceptance of self and evolution toward who you are becoming. Life has taught me that change is the only constant and this is just one of many acts to follow. I wish you’d been my teacher when I was a kid. You caring, enthusiasm and life experience make you someone I would have loved to learn from as a child!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh thank you, Lisa. The past week or so has been really jarring–change has always been so hard for me as a HSP. That said, I also recognize how vital it is to go with the flow of change happening in and around me. Trying my best to march forward at my own pace. So nice to hear from you!

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  4. Britta, you have had so many enriching experiences in the last three years, and made the best of all of them. It’s no cliché to say that you always can face lemons, because there will a lemonade in the making.
    I truly admire your focus, determination and self awareness, and your capacity to learn and grow so fast.
    We learn from your experiences too.
    Thank you.
    Congratulations with the new job, and don’t worry, you are doing fine and will go far.

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    1. Thank you so much, Lucile. In my days of doubt and insecurity, I always try to remind myself of the future ahead…and of how far I’ve come. It is always so nice to hear affirmation from others, though. It’s been a tough few years since I graduated, but I’ve also learned so much.

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      1. You’re most welcome, Britta. Keep reminding yourself of that when you doubt, and you won’t lose perspective.
        Sometimes I’m surprised on how much I learn about myself through others, and on how tougher I’m to myself than they are to me.

        Liked by 1 person

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