A Lesson in Humility: It's Okay to Cry in the Bathroom
I've been thinking a lot lately, and that generally leads to me not having much to write because I lose myself in little mazes in my brain to which there are no conclusions nor meaning. This means there are no thoughts to express because my thoughts are irrelevant, fleeting, situational, emotional, personal, and therefore unhelpful. Then, I remember my favorite way of learning is through other's stories. Here is a story.
It was a Sunday. I was wearing a navy blue dress with white polka dots, navy blue sweater tights (yep, mom, I matched), gold teardrop earrings, and my slightly-below-shoulder-length hair was down. I remember this because it was one of those days where I didn't feel totally awesome when I woke up, but I knew it was going to be a long day so I decided to really 'get dressed'. It had recently snowed but that day was shaping up to include that famous Denver sunshine, which made my 45 minute walk to work at 5:30am exceptionally pleasant.
I've attempted to reach back into the crevasses of my brain for this next part, but my memory is slightly too hazy. This next situation could have happened on that Sunday, or it could have happened on a day before that Sunday. I think I can't remember because of the mundane nature of the situation. A woman* I sort of recognized came into Amethyst. She ordered a latte, a plain croissant, sat at the table by our retail shelves with her computer plugged in, and did some work for awhile. I want to say it was mid-morning. I don't recall seeing her leave.
Back to the Sunday; I worked open-close alone and then took a walk over to some banquet hall that I don't remember because my then-boyfriend-now-husband was competing in a punch competition at Cochon555 (some sort of pig cooking/wine pairing/something else competition that is a big deal). I wandered in, found my husband and some friends, and we were wandering around the banquet hall snacking on things and having a good time. My tiredness was beginning to wear off and I was noticing my feet hurting a bit less. Then, we ran into the woman who I still sort of recognized.
My husband introduced me, and the woman (who, it turns out, at the time was a writer for a local chapter of a food/beverage online magazine) knew I looked familiar. I mentioned I owned Amethyst and she goes, 'Oh! Yes! You need more outlets and I love the person who bakes your pastries, but they just aren't good'.
Hi, it's really nice to meet you, too.
Apparently opening up a business excuses people from the normal 'great to meet you' pleasantries (which I'm slightly thankful for; think how boring, albeit kind, those are) and opens you up to get blindsided by criticism when you are just out trying to support your partner in a punch competition.
Looking back, I feel pretty proud of myself because I did not (i repeat, did not) throw my glass of wine in her face. I did, however, excuse myself to go cry in the bathroom.
Re-reading the line of what she said to me, it doesn't sound like much of a zinger, but dang did it hurt. It made everything seem all the more futile. People go to restaurants or bars for the food, drinks, service, atmosphere, and price point. People go to coffee shops to spend $6 (that's generous, usually it's $2-3) and use the wifi all day, and that's kind of a fact.** I guess I should stop fighting it, and stop worrying about the people who expect Amethyst to be their personal office (even if that person has a job that means they should know better), but, like I said, my memories of situations like this are so wrapped up in emotion, personal experience, and specific situations that sometimes my reactions aren't logical. They aren't sassy and cut throat as I intend them to be; they are defeated and 'weak'. So, that's how I ended up in a bathroom stall crying really hard and trying to answer a call from my husband asking where I was (definitely not the worst way I've ended up crying in a bathroom stall, but it's all relative?).
I try to remember this moment as a learning experience. Not all feedback is bad, but not all feedback is valuable. You can't always control the quality that your vendors deliver, but you can choose who you work with. Coffee shops should have outlets and free wifi, but not to the detriment of the business, and you certainly don't have to be an office for people. The music can be too loud, the tables can look like kid's art class tables, the wifi can be kind of slow, but the service and the coffee must always be dialed. People won't always care about those things, but they still need to be dialed. You can't (ahem, you can do whatever you want as long as you don't hurt anyone or deny anyone's happiness, existence, or basic human rights) throw your wine in someone's face because they didn't have anything constructive to say to you, but you can cry alone in a bathroom stall and feel better when you're done.
I think I've been a little too salty on this blog. I've advised people to not open coffee shops. That advice came from a real place of hurt and exhaustion, but I'm not sure it's finite advice because I'm a person and I change a lot. I don't know. Follow your dreams, do what you can, but don't do it for the glamour. Do it for the love, because it's not that glamorous, but it's easy to love. If you can't do it, don't let it get you down. So much of owning a business is privilege. I am exceptionally privileged to have the views and the life that I have. I'm working hard on making sure that I know that, and I'm working hard to make sure that I express myself in a way that takes into consideration my leg-up in the world.
*fun fact, this same woman will later write my husband an email about something I said on facebook that she didn't like. It was in reference to how I present myself and my 'obvious' disdain for the current state of Denver's food media in relation to coffee. Pretty cool that she didn't email me directly when my email is more than readily available on the internet.
**don't mistake this for me saying that I don't want people working in coffee shops. I've been known to do that, and I love seeing friends who come into Amethyst to do work. It's all about the attitude, ya dig?