Saturday, February 5, 2011

My Pleasure

Okay, so I never intended to use this blog as a sounding board for my emotional frustrations. I've never considered myself especially "emo" or even remotely skilled at expressing my emotions efficiently. But in this newer era I've entered of self-honesty and growth, I have to admit to myself: I absolutely deplore the hospitality industry.

I've told myself I like it. I've told others I like it. I moved my way out of operations (so as to have a life) into event planning, and then growing bored with that rather quickly, moved into sales. The goal of moving into sales was to learn something new, learn to strategize, learn how the hotel business operates from this standpoint, and still have a schedule which affords personal time.

After a year in sales, I'm bored again. Yes, I'm learning, yes, I'm challenged. But with my particular position the challenge often comes in the form of a perfectly balanced blend of tedium and stress. It's often repetitive to the point of comical prediction. I know the cold call is going to end in "send me some information." I know when the caller asks "how much is your ballroom?" They can't afford us. I know banquets and the kitchen will perpetually assume I have no idea what life is like in their shoes, and I know that at the end of the day, (like that expression or not), there is no such thing real loyalty in this business.  And what I'm learning, to me, has very little impact or relevance in the world. It is a soulless operation.

I always wanted to help people, to make a difference. I wanted to write, to create, to affect the world and allow myself to be affected by it. I wanted growth, change, interesting ideas and I want to be challenged. I want to travel, I want to explore, I want to learn.

Currently, I sit in a shared cubicle under fluorescent lightning, in front of a computer. The most variety in my day comes from the wonky AC unit that perpetually makes us all very hot and then very cold. My daily challenges consist of system crashes and slow email. My biggest surprises are exciting requests for proposals over "need" dates. The hills I need to climb are complex BEOs (banquet event orders) that need to be done. Productive discourse is an argument in the exercise in strategic debate that is daily BEO meeting over whether the dressing should be served on the side for a luncheon.

I would like to affect lives. Instead, I'm producing successful room blocks and day meetings.

I write because I see it as a way out. I look to return to school because I see it as a way out. I started work in this field because it was something I could do. I continued work in this field because it made my family proud. I built a career out of it because I didn't think there was much else I could do. And now, after a very rough few years, now that what's important is more clear to me than it ever has been, I know that I made a mistake in continuing a career that I don't want. But I'm trapped in it. It's got me in its jaws. If I leave and enter a field in which I have no experience, I'll be lucky to make $10 an hour. My only hope is to go back to school or keep writing.

Life is so short. Eleven years ago I returned to Charleston from two years in England. Eleven years ago I was a different person, and yet it feels like a matter of several months in many respects. And yet still - this was about a seventh of my life. A seventh. Such a large portion, and clearly there isn't much left. How much regret will I continue to bank?

How much more of it do I have to lose?

I'm divorced. I have no children, and I may never. I'm not even sure I want to. All I know is, I'm wasting my precious time. I feel it now more than ever. What's more important? Financial freedom and a mediocre-to-depressing life, or a career that interests me, but living paycheck-to-paycheck? I'll take poverty if it makes life interesting again.

Thanks for listening, if you did. It's been a long time coming that I get that off my chest.


Chris Clary said...

I think if I had stayed in the hospitality industry, I would be saying the same thing (had I made to the level you did). I chose to go back to school and it revitalized my life. I still don't know specifically what I want to do but I realize my options have expanded with my degree choice. I'm also in the same boat that I'd rather work a job I enjoy that makes nothing than a job that bores the hell out of me where I'm raking it in. I say jump and when you jump, you've got to make it a world shaking jump. Good luck my friend.