Working at a restaurant has been making me depressed, but I tried to focus on the job at hand to get through the day. As I got better at waiting tables, I began to get used to it. It was starting to feel less monotonous and less tare-my-hair-out boring.
In my free time, I was starting to get in the habit of spending two to three days of my week forwarding acting and modeling jobs to my agents from Actors Access and Casting Networks. It was working. I was getting called in for auditions almost every day.
The only problem with getting a bunch of auditions was that it was only my second week of serving and I was scheduled for lunches all week. Being at the restaurant during the day would conflict with my audition schedule. I hoped that any auditions I had coming this week could be pushed to when I didn’t have to be at work.
On Tuesday morning, I got an email from my agent saying I had an audition at 4:00 p.m. I confirmed, hopeful that I would make it out of the restaurant on time. I asked my manager if she thought I would be able to leave by 3:30 p.m. to attend the audition. My manager said, “No.” We’re the busiest at lunch time and she would not let a single person leave earlier than necessary.
A few minutes later, my manager approached me to say that she would have one of the opening servers close for me so that I could leave early enough to make my audition time. I breathed a sigh of relief and thanked her.
I ended up leaving work at 2:00 p.m. and had ample time to take a break and get ready for my audition, which was thankfully just a few subway stops away.
“Okay. This doesn’t seem so bad. All I have to do if I have a 4:00 p.m. audition is switch with an opening server,” I thought to myself. “This is manageable.”
Wednesday rolled around. My agent called me to tell me that I have an audition on Thursday again at 4:00 p.m. Damn these 4:00 p.m. auditions. The audition slots made me nervous when I was also scheduled to work lunch because it meant that I would be cutting it close when leaving work.
During my Wednesday shift, I talked to the manager on duty at the restaurant. He told me as long as I switched with one of the opening servers for the next day, he would make sure he talked to Thursday’s manager about letting me out on time.
I successfully switched shifts with an opening server and was the first server at work on Thursday. I finished most of the opening job tasks before the other opening server even got to the restaurant. I instructed her on what was left to be done. I helped her with the other opening tasks until the rest of the staff got there.
It turned out, the restaurant would be booked for a private event in our outdoor area during lunch. The servers would all be “cocktail waitresses” and passing out hors d’oeuvres and drinks.
I luckily was named one of the servers that would be inside serving our regular customers, rather than working the event.
“Phew! That probably means I’ll get out on time,” I thought to myself.
Because it seemed like I would be able to leave on time, I didn’t ask my manager on duty about leaving early. I didn’t want to seem uncommitted since she was the one that let me leave early on Monday. She also did not seem to notice that I was the only server opening because she scolded me about being idle once the other server had come in, despite the fact that I had completed all of the opening tasks on my own. Even still, I didn’t want to piss anyone off by pointing out my commitment to the job or asking to leave early.
Three o’clock rolled around. I was still without a sign that I would be allowed to leave soon. The event that the restaurant was hosting was winding down. I had two tables that were getting ready to leave. I nervously checked my watch.
Another server at the restaurant told those of us serving lunch inside to start our “side work.” Side work is restaurant terminology for the tasks you do before leaving for the day. This usually encompasses folding napkins, refilling condiments, making sure there is enough butter for the bread, etc.
“If everyone is preparing to leave, the day must almost be over right?” I thought to myself.
I was starting to get anxious about whether or not I would be allowed to leave. The server I switched shifts with came up to me and asked, “Aren’t you supposed to leave soon?” He happened to be a favorite of the managers at the restaurant.
I responded, “Yes, but I don’t want to ask.”
It was probably not the best time for the newbie to ask to leave early. The management seemed serious and on edge because of the event we were hosting. Also, the general manager, who basically runs the show, was also working.
My colleague told me, “Don’t worry, I’ll talk to her.”
I sighed a breath of relief. “Thank you so much!” I said to him.
It was 3:30 p.m., the lunch manager came around the corner and asked me if I have to leave early. I said “Yes, thank you so much!”
She looked at me and told me sternly that I shouldn’t count on being able to leave early. I told her that I wasn’t making leaving a priority and had taken lunch shifts off of my availability for the future. She nodded and walked away.
That night, my agent emailed me with another modeling gig for the next day that would last the entire day. Unfortunately, I was scheduled to work lunch again.
I felt stuck between a rock and a hard place. My agent previously had problems with actors/models backing out of bookings after confirming. She told us that if we didn’t show for gigs after confirming that she would drop us from the agency. I couldn’t take a chance and confirm the gig unless I had someone covering me at work. I needed to take any modeling gigs that I got at this stage of my career. I couldn’t turn away acting and modeling work because I was on a restaurant schedule.
My modeling career was more important than a restaurant job. I wasn’t aiming to have a career in the restaurant industry.
I had to make a decision.
I needed to find someone to cover for me at the restaurant tomorrow.
The restaurant used a website to handle people calling out and switching shifts. I had two options. I can try to figure out who is not working lunch tomorrow and text everyone individually, or I can choose to “give up” my shift to anyone who is willing to take it. Feeling stressed and overwhelmed by this decision, I chose to give up my shift on the website.
A few hours later, I saw that my shift was removed from the schedule completely. I assumed this was done by management.
The next day, I found out that the modeling gig fell through.
I checked the restaurant schedule for next week that had just gone up online. I wasn’t on it.
I emailed the restaurant manager to inquire why I wasn’t on the schedule for next week.
Her response read:
I am letting you go as of today. It’s just not going to work out.”
Well… I wasn’t really surprised. And I didn’t blame them. They need someone committed to the job. It’s a New York City restaurant. They need to make money to survive.
On top of not getting the modeling gig and getting fired from my restaurant job, I was experiencing failure in a few other places of my life.
I was not sure what my next step was. But I felt hopeless. I felt like letting the people around me down was inevitable. I was burning bridges without even trying. It had nothing to do with my work ethic or me as a person. It had to do with my commitment to trying to make it as a model and actress.
Sheena Pradhan is a 27-year-old actress, model, writer, stylist, nutritionist, fashion blogger, content creator, and self-proclaimed branding expert. She always thought she would be a buyer for a big fashion brand, but in her winding journey, she has fallen in love with acting and modeling, which she does full-time. Follow her personal journey on her blog, Tuline Tulip.
Social media has stretched a number of news headlines:
“Social media rots kids’ brains.”
“Social media is polarizing.”
Yet those most affected by social media ideals are the teenage users. Apps like Instagram and TikTok perpetuate an image of perfection that is captured in pictures and 30-second videos. As a result, many young women chase this expectation endlessly. “Her” personifies this perfection in an unattainable figure the narrator has always wished to be. These ideals deteriorate mental health, create body dysmorphia, promote a lack of self-esteem, and much more. Even so, social media is plagued by filters and editing—much of what we hope to achieve isn’t even real. Therefore, young women, much like the narrator of “Her,” strive for a reality that doesn’t even exist.
When she walked into my life
Her smile took up two pages of description
In a YA novel.
My arms could wrap around her waist twice
If she ever let anyone get that close
Her hair whipped winds with effortless beach waves
And a hint of natural coconut
Clothing brands were created around her
“One Size Fits All” one size to fit the girl who has it all
With comments swarning in hourglasses
But when sharp teeth nip at her collar,
She could bite back biting back
And simply smirked with juicy apple lips
Red hearts and sympathy masking condescension
“My body doesn’t take away from the beauty of yours”
“We are all equal, we are all beautiful”
A sword she wields expertly
Aphrodite in consistent perfection
Cutting remarks with sickly sweet syrup
And an innocent, lethal wink
When she walked into my life
She led my life.
My wardrobe winter trees
Barren, chopped in half
Unsuited for the holidays
Mirrors were refracted under in my gaze
Misaligned glass was the only explanation
For unsymmetrical features
And broken hands
Still I taped them fixed
Over and over
Hoping to mold stomach fat like wet clay
Move it upward
Instead of sagging beneath a belt on the last hole
In the spring
She would stir me awake at 2 AM
“You need to be me”
Lies spilled from her tongue but
Fabrication spelled dichotomy
And I drifted farther out to sea
When she walked out of my life,
I was drowning.
Reliance had me capsized
Furrowed brows and glances away
Like spectators of a shark attack
They can watch but the damage is done
They clung to my mangled pieces
But I was mourning too
Today I looked back at my mirror
But glass turned into prism
Broken pieces rainbow
Colors coating clothes
She didn’t pick
She wasn’t perfect
Just lost at sea
The opinions expressed by the guest writer/blogger and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Brown Girl Magazine, Inc., or any employee thereof. Brown Girl Magazine is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the guest writer/bloggers. This work is the opinion of the blogger. It is not the intention of Brown Girl Magazine to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, or individual. If you’d like to submit a guest post, please follow the guidelines we’ve set forth here.
In celebration of Kirthana Ramisetthi’s second novel “Advika and the Hollywood Wives,” BGM literary editor Nimarta Narang is publishing this short story by the acclaimed author. This piece chronicles the evolution of a writer’s life through their ever-changing author’s bio. In the details, from the change in last name to the new address, we observe how Gigi grows into Genevieve and the life events that make her into the writer she becomes.
“My Picnic,” published in the Oakwood Elementary Storytime Scrapbook
Gigi Maguire loves strawberries, “Smurfs,” and being a first grader. Her favorite word is ‘hooray.’ This is her first short story.
“Sunshine Day,”published in Oakwood Elementary KidTale
Gigi Maguire is a fifth grader in Ms. Troll’s class. She loves writing stories more than anything in the whole world, except for peanut butter.
“What Rhymes with Witch?,” published in BeezKneez.com
Gigi Maguire is a high school junior living in the Bay Area. Her favorite writers are Sylvia Plath and J.K. Rowling. If she can’t attend Hogwarts, she’ll settle for Sarah Lawrence or NYU.
“On Her 21st Birthday,” published in LitEnds
Gigi Laurene Maguire is a writer and recent graduate from Sarah Lawrence College. Her favorite writers are Sylvia Plath, Alice Munro, and Mahatma Gandhi. She is making her big move to New York City in the fall.
“Valentine’s Day in a Can,” published in Writerly
Gigi Laurene Maguire is a freelance writer who loves the written word, Ireland in springtime, and “La Vie En Rose.” She lives in Hoboken, New Jersey.
“Unspoken Ballads of Literal Heartbreak,” published in Weau Dunque Review
Gigi Laurene Maguire is an assistant editor at ScienceLife.com. Her work has appeared in Writerly and is forthcoming in Pancake House and Schooner’s Weekly. She lives in Hoboken, New Jersey.
“The Mistress of Self-Loathing,” published in Story Day
Gigi L. Maguire is the editor-in-chief of Small Business Weekly. Her work has appeared Writerly, Story Day, Pancake House, and Schooner’s Weekly. She’s currently working on a novel about witches. She lives in Hoboken, New Jersey, with her tabby cat Sabrina.
“The Distance in Your Eyes,” published in The Canton Review
Gigi L. Maguire is a freelance writer and digital marketing specialist. Her work has appeared in Writerly, Story Day, and is forthcoming in Idaho Centennial. She’s working on a novel and a short story collection. She lives in Hoboken, New Jersey.
“Auspicious,” published in BookWorks
Genevieve L. Maguire’s work appears or will appear in The Canton Review, Mark’s End, Bishop Quarterly, and Idaho Centennial. A second runner-up for the Imelda Granteaux Award for Fiction, she is writing a novel and a memoir. Genevieve lives in Brooklyn.
“Meditate, Mediate,” published in Ripcord
Genevieve L. Maguire’s fiction appears or will appear in BookWorks, The Canton Review, Berkeley Standard, and elsewhere. A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, she is an MFA candidate at New York University. She lives in Brooklyn with her boyfriend and their two cats.
“Chaat & Chew,” published in The Carnegie Review
Genevieve L. Maguire’s fiction appears in Ploughshares, Ripcord, The Cambridge Review, and elsewhere. She received her master’s in creative writing from New York University. Her short story “Meditate, Mediate” has been optioned by Academy Award nominee Janet De La Mer’s production company, Femme! Productions. She lives in Brooklyn with her fiancé, their three cats, and a non-singing canary.
“Urdhva Hastasana Under a Banyan Tree” published in The Paris Review
Genevieve Maguire-Mehta’s fiction has been hailed as “breathtakingly lyrical” by Margaret Atwood. She is the recipient of the Whiting Prize for Short Fiction and an Ivy Fellow. Her fiction has appeared in The Carnegie Review, Ploughshares, and elsewhere. She lives with her husband Manoj in Park Slope, Brooklyn.
“Reaching New (Jackson) Heights,” performed by Lana Del Rey on NPR’s “Shorts” series
Genevieve Maguire-Mehta’s fiction has been hailed as “effervescent” by Alice Munro and “breathtakingly lyrical” by Margaret Atwood. She is the recipient of the Whiting Prize for Short Fiction and an Ivy Fellow. Her work appears or has appeared in The Paris Review,Elle, The Carnegie Review, and elsewhere. She lives with her husband in Park Slope, Brooklyn with their feisty menagerie of animals.
“The Bhagavad Gina,” published in The New Yorker
Genevieve Maguire-Mehta is the recipient of the Whiting Prize of Short Fiction and is a McClennen Arts Colony scholar. Her work appears or has appeared in The Paris Review,Elle, and elsewhere. She is currently working on a novel. She lives with her husband and daughter in Park Slope, Brooklyn.
“When Two Becomes None,” published in American Quarterly
Genevieve Maguire’s writing has received dozens of accolades, most recently the Luciana Vowel Prize for Female Fiction. Praised by Alice Munro as “effervescent,” her work has appeared in more than twenty publications, including The New Yorker, and The Paris Review. She lives with her daughter Priyanka in Park Slope, Brooklyn.
“The Day We Learned Desire is a Winding Path,” published by Capricorn Rising Press
Genevieve Maguire is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in more than thirty publications, including The New Yorker and The Paris Review. She lives with her daughter in a 100-year-old farmhouse in Woodstock, New York. “The Day We Learned Desire is a Winding Path” is her first novel. Visit her website at genevievemagauthor.com.
“Hairy Arms and Coconut Oil,” published in MotherReader
Genevieve MaguireDunblatt is a novelist, homeopath, and part-time yoga instructor. She has seen her critically-acclaimed short stories published in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and elsewhere. She lives with her husband Benji and daughter Priyanka in Jacksonville, Florida.
“Priya Pinker’s Mother Gets a Life,” published by Capricorn Rising Press
Genevieve M.Dunblatt is the author of two novels, including “The Day We Learned Desire is a Winding Path.” An aura reader, faith healer, and yoga instructor, she has seen her critically-acclaimed short stories published in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and elsewhere. She lives with her husband in Jacksonville, Florida. Visit genevieveauthormag.com to learn more about her writing, and genevieveauthormag.com/hearthappy for her wellness services.
“Comma, Coma,” published in Read-A-Day Journal
Genevieve Maguire is the author of “The Day We Learned Desire is a Winding Path” and “Priya Pinker’s Mother Gets a Life.” She has seen her critically-acclaimed short stories published in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and elsewhere. Alice Munro has called her writing “effervescent.” She lives in Jacksonville, Florida.
“Next Stop New York,” published in The Lunar Reader
Genevieve Maguire is the author of “The Day We Learned Desire is a Winding Path” and “Priya Pinker’s Mother Gets a Life.” She lives in New Jersey.
“What you do is not who you are. Our capitalist society spends a lot of time trying to convince us that we are our work, but we don’t have to fall for it.”
When I first met Joy Batra, she wasn’t an author. She was a multi-hyphenated individual who floored me with her charm and her aura. Joy not only had gone to business school and law school at one of the most prestigious universities in America, but she also valued her hobbies and her passions that were completely extraneous to her working persona. Her nontraditional career path was one that, at first glance, confused me. “I’m a dancer and freelancer,” she had said, and I batted my eyes as if she was talking in a foreign language. What’s a freelancer? Why and how did she come to identify herself as a dancer, when her degrees all point to business and law?
Joy Batra’s therapeutic and timely book “Freelance Mindset” provides relevant stories, guidelines, and motivation to take ownership of your career and financial well-being. Particularly, the book is centered around the pros and cons of life as a freelancer and practical advice for how to get started as one. At its core, the “Freelance Mindset” encourages diving deep into the relationship between career and identity, and how the balance of both relate back to your life view.
In the words of Batra:
“Freelancing is a way to scratch a creative itch that is completely unrelated to their day jobs…Freelancing harnesses that independent streak and turns it into a long- term advantage.”
Batra’s older sister’s advice is written with forthright humbleness and glaring humility. Batra leads us through the fear of facing our existential fears about careers, productivity, and creativity. She leans into the psychological aspects of how we develop our careers, and reminds us to approach work not just with serious compassion but also with childhood play:
“You are naturally curious and passionate. As a child, before you needed to think deeply about money, you probably played games, had imaginary friends, and competed in sports. Those instincts might get buried as we grow up, but they don’t disappear altogether.”
Batra also provides us with a diverse cast of inspirational freelancers who provide their honest perspectives across a wide range of domains from being a professional clown to actors to writers. Especially noticeable is the attention paid to South Asian women through notable interviews with Vyjayanthi Vadrevu, Saumya Dave, and more. On social media, it’s easy to find these women and immediately applaud their success, but behind the scenes, it takes a lot of grit, persistence, and determination to reach the successful level of freelancing that you see. Batra encourages a spiritual way of thinking that is marked by rational needs (ex. Maslow’s hierarchy): not to seek immediate gratification and corporate climbing, but rather to view life as a “jungle gym” as coined by Patricia Sellers. Taking risks is part of life, and just like entrepreneurship, freelancing is just as ambitious and off-the-beaten path, despite stigmatization.
“One of the strange paradoxes of the working world is that entrepreneurship is fetishized and freelancing is stigmatized.”
I recommend the “Freelance Mindset” to anyone who is starting out their career in these economically uncertain times, as well as seasoned workers who are looking for inspiration or a shift in their career life. Whether or not you are considering becoming a freelancer in a certain domain, this book is the practical wake-up call that workers and employees need in order to reorient their purpose and poise themselves for a mindset of success. I view this book as a “lifer,” one to read every few years to ground myself and think critically about the choices I make and where I devote my time.
I leave you with this quote:
“We can adopt the new belief that no single job will meet all our financial, social, emotional, spiritual, and physical needs…We have one self, and we must figure out how to integrate it into the various situations we find ourselves in.“
You can purchase a copy of the Freelance Mindset here. Follow Joy Batra on Twitter and Instagram for more content!