Tamil Heritage Month

Since January is Tamil heritage month, I decided to sit down and write about my heritage and what it means to my life. All throughout my life I’ve been told that I don’t look Tamil simply because of my skin colour or my facial features. In some ways, I took this to heart and subconsciously acted “less Tamil” around my peers. I didn’t memorize throwback Tamil songs or watch Vijay and Surya movies non-stop like all the other 90s kids I grew up with. I still enjoyed a Tamil movie or two with my parents every now and then growing up, but it wasn’t as big of a part in my life as it was for other children.

I remember when I was around twelve years old, my parents sent my younger sister and I to Tamil classes to learn how to read and write the language. After the first class, I decided that it wasn’t for me and stopped attending classes while my sister (who ironically is less cultural than I am) continued them for a couple years. Even though she is able to somewhat read and write in the language, she finds that she never has a need to do so outside of Tamil school.

If I were to paint a picture of the two of us, my sister has multiple piercings and her hair has been dyed through every colour of the rainbow. My favourite music is not the melodies of AR Rahman or Anirudh but instead is alternative rock and indie bands. We’ve been to only one AR Rahman concert (which we did enjoy) but we’ve been to countless concerts of Western artists. Neither of us can really hold a full conversation in Tamil at all, so in other words, my sister and I are what you would call “white-washed”. I hadn’t really thought that any of our interests or activities would make us white-washed, but over time this is what people had begun to see us as. I had begun to perpetuate this perception by describing myself to people as:

“Yeah, I’m so totally white-washed.”

Now that I think about it, it’s probably kind of racist for people to be going around calling other people of colour white-washed when the phrase means that the person in question is void of any culture. Whether or not I like to colour my hair or listen to American music doesn’t make me any less cultured than people who choose to blast Tamil tunes in their cars all day or go to the opening night of the new Rajinikanth movie. It just means that I don’t have the same interests as my Tamil brothers and sisters.

I’ve attended a couple of Tamil formals during my time in university, partly as a study to see how other people my age act in such a situation but also see if I can take part without feeling out of place. My first formal was an interesting one. I was in my best saree with my hair and makeup all done up. When I walked into the hall I could hear Tamil film music blasting over the sound system. It was the first time I had seen so many young Tamil students my age all gathered in one room. Aside from the overwhelming feeling of being one person in a crowd of hundreds, it was strange to see how many other people like myself were in the community. All the other girls in their sarees and lehenga’s were absolutely radiant and the hall was packed from wall to wall with young Tamil students. I distinctly remember my favourite part of the night was when the food was brought out. Curries and dosa were laid out before us and filled the hall with their delicious aromas. In between the arrivals of all the guests were the dance performances by each school’s dance team to Tamil throwbacks and jokes made by the hosts of the formal. At the end of the night they opened the dance floor to the crowd and everyone danced away to their favourite Tamil hits. Overall, it was a pleasant night.

I believe that these events are a great way for students in the Tamil community to come together and have fun with other people who share the same interests. But that’s the keyword, same interests. Despite the number of formals that I’ve been to, I still don’t find them to be something that I wholeheartedly enjoy attending. I’ve had a number of friends ask me over the years to accompany them to these events and more often than not, I’ll find an excuse to bow out of attending. Yes, the events are fun, but they’re just not for me. I’d much rather spend my $50 at a bookstore or on concerts of my favourite artists, but that’s just my personal preference. My inclination to not go to these formals doesn’t make me any less Tamil than my friends who love them.

If my taste in music and movies and my dislike for formals doesn’t indicate my culture, then what does? Just like most other girls in our community, I had to survive through the embarrassing ordeal of a puberty ceremony when I had reached the appropriate age. I wish I could have escaped that particular tradition of our culture, but it was something that my parents wanted me to do and so I had obliged. The whole ceremony was an event that I likely will never subject my future daughter to. With that being said, I actually learned a lot about my culture throughout this experience. My mom taught me about the traditions that she endured back home and how they are different from what girls undergo here in Canada. It was illuminating to realize that there are vast differences between Sri Lankan traditions back home and how these same traditions have slowly adapted to Western culture here in Canada.

I suppose what I’m trying to say here is that I myself sometimes don’t know who I really am. What is my true identity? I identify as a Canadian simply because I was born in Toronto and raised here as well. But because my parents are both Sri Lankan, I identify myself as a Sri Lankan too. People will often hear my name and ask me what my background is because they have trouble connecting my appearance with my identity. I have been raised with Tamil influences and culture all around me. Even though I speak to my parents in English at home, they respond back to me in Tamil. When I ask my mom what she’s prepared for dinner, she’ll respond with puttu and curry, not always pasta and meatballs. Being Tamil isn’t just about your interests and your experiences. It’s in the food we eat, in our surroundings when we get home from school or work, in the brownness of our skins and the long names that we wear to the world every single day.

So for this year’s Tamil heritage month I want to say that yes, I guess I am “white-washed” but I am still Tamil.

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If Not, It Can’t Be Helped (re-write)

“I do my thing and you do your thing.
I am not in this world to live up to your expectations,
And you are not in this world to live up to mine.
You are you, and I am I,
and if by chance we find each other, it’s beautiful.
If not, it can’t be helped.
(Fritz Perls, “Gestalt Therapy Verbatim”, 1969)

I first came across the Gestalt Prayer back when I was in high school in a book that I was reading at the time. The moment I did, it completely resonated with me and stuck with me throughout every milestone of my life. Years later, it’s the one thing that continues to hold me together every single day whenever I’m feeling lost or confused about my place in the world. One of the biggest mysteries of humankind is knowing whether or not our lives have any meaning, value, or purpose. I had an existential crisis several years ago, and I found my answer through this prayer.

The definition of a gestalt is “an organized whole that is perceived as more than the sum of its parts”. It’s when something that is made of many parts is seen as more than just each of its individual pieces. It’s what I believe about soulmates, that when two people are so deeply and utterly in love, they become two halves of one being. In a way they are people who are more significant together than as individuals. This goes back to what some people believe about the universe, the belief that everything that happens in our lives is meant to happen for a reason. We are meant to suffer, we are meant to lose people, we are meant to be happy but we are ultimately meant to die. It’s what makes us human. We should be celebrating our individuality, but at the same time, we should also take every relationship and milestone in our lives and cherish it, especially because very few things in life are permanent.

To live is to meet new people and have their influences in our lives. Not every person who you come across in your life is meant to stay in your life, and that’s simply the way it is. What matters is what you take from that interaction, whether it’s a family member, a relationship or a random encounter with a stranger, and how you learn and grow from it. Maturity comes from age, and wisdom comes from experiences. If by chance you meet someone who has completely changed your perspective or loves you for your unique weirdness, then that is a beautiful thing. Your mind has expanded and you are much wiser from that interaction. Some people are meant to come and go, and if they go, then so be it.

In an effort to understand the prayer in the way that it was intended to be understood, I delved into my own research into the psychology of this school of thought. The Gestalt prayer is used in a form of therapy which is very client-centered. You focus more on the present and try to understand why you form your negative thoughts and patterns. The therapy is a step towards discovering self-awareness. There is research that indicates that self-awareness is the path to true happiness. When you focus on your own behaviour and compare it to your personal standards, you will be able to realize that your biggest critic is yourself, not your parents or your friends or whoever else is in your life. No one else will understand you the way that you understand yourself. This leads to learning about your own internal thoughts and preferences, leading to a higher emotional intelligence. Self-awareness is not only recognizing this, but also seeing how your perception of yourself changes over time. Oftentimes this is hard to control as we are so heavily influenced by external factors, such as the media and ever-changing standards placed on us by the public. A large and unfortunate part of modern day culture is worrying about what other people want, when you should be realizing that your life is your own to live by. Our society dictates that you live according to what the stereotype expects of you, which goes against what it means to be human.

Going back to the Gestalt therapy practise, the notion of self-awareness can help people who are suffering from relationship issues, self-esteem problems, and other matters that plague us day to day. We all have a role to play in our own unhappiness, the Gestalt prayer helps with bringing us out of it. Think back to what I mentioned about the definition of a gestalt being something that is “whole”. This applies to the thought that humans are a whole entity of the mind, body, and soul. We should be addressing each part of ourselves and heal not only our bodies, but also the mind and soul.

It’s the final line of the prayer, “if not, it can’t be helped”, that constantly echoes in my thoughts. This line means that if something doesn’t happen in the way that you meant for it to, then why be bothered about it? You take control of your life and move on from it, aiming for bigger and better. As the year of 2017 draws to a close, I’ve done a lot of self-reflection of my life over the past year. My self-reflecting has made me realize how meaningfully I have lived over the past year. Just like anyone else, I’ve had people come and go out of my life and I’ve made some incredible friendships along the way. Some of these friendships are no longer in my life and I have made peace with that. These were the connections that I learned the most from, they were the ones who showed me who I am and how to live my life to the fullest. The worst thing that you could do to yourself is live a life full of regrets, and that’s why I made sure that my 2017 was a year full of experiences that I’m proud of.

What I have come to realize is that we are all in this world to be ourselves. We are constantly changing. Humankind is both independent and interdependent. We rely on others as creatures of habit, but we also value our autonomy and self-sufficiency. The Gestalt prayer taught me to live in harmony with my whole self and to be okay with attending to my own needs before others’. It means that once we are self-fulfilled, then we will be able to help others in the same way, thus creating beautiful connections. Once you are able to truly be at peace with yourself and who you are as a person, then maybe you will be ready to be completely selfless and help others achieve the same. That is the basic definition of the Gestalt prayer, that you fulfill your own needs so that you can create the space for genuine relationships.

If I were to write about all the lessons that I’ve learned from the universe, then I would be writing forever, for we never stop learning.

Children of Immigrants

When I look at other young men and women around my age, I realize that the majority of people in my generation are first generation Canadians. Our parents have immigrated here from back home to give us a better life, and this is not just families who grew up in Sri Lanka, but from other Asian and South Asian countries as well. My sister and I, like many others, were born and raised in Canada. The environment that we grew up in was mixed between learning about our culture and learning to blend in with the other children our age. When you’re young, you don’t notice things like differences in religion or culture.

Because my sister and I were born and raised here, we were able to learn English as our first language. Oftentimes my dad would phone or text me while he was at work to ask if I could proofread an email he needed to type out or how to spell a certain word. I grew up reading the manuals for new home appliances that we would buy or read out Ikea instructions for my parents so that they could understand the complex language. I’m sure there are other children of immigrants who also have the same experience with helping our parents to install computers and cleaning viruses off the hard drive. Sometimes my father and I would sit on hold with Rogers for an hour together trying to figure out why the Wi-Fi wasn’t working. I typically offer to make these calls myself but my father always jumped at any opportunity to learn something new. He is now able to expertly deal with Rogers in a way that always give us the best deals and discounts on our home plans. I find that our parents have an impressive learning curve, which is amplified by the fact that they came to such a progressive and developed country while barely knowing how a lot of things worked.

My parents always made every effort to make me feel like the other kids around my age. Growing up, we would celebrate American holidays like Thanksgiving as well as other religious holidays such as Christmas. During Thanksgiving we would sit down for a family meal, sometimes catch a movie, or embark on an adventure in downtown Toronto, if weather permitted. The Christmases that I remember were always filled with presents under a tree. In the weeks leading up to the holiday, we would unearth the plastic fir tree from the basement and spend time together decorating it with ornaments and candy canes. My childhood was spent leaving out milk and sugar cookies while waiting up for Santa Claus every year until I realized that Santa wasn’t real. Even though we don’t carry the same traditions now that everyone is older, we still string lights up outside the front of the house and have Christmas dinner together as a family. It wasn’t until later in my young life that I realized Christmas is a religious holiday, one that we don’t really need to celebrate as a Hindu family. Despite that, my parents still wanted my sister and I participate in the wide-spread festivities.

There are other days such as Valentine’s Day and Halloween that weren’t really holidays, but were still a cause for celebration among other American families. My parents did not really understand the concept behind these days merely because they were not typical holidays that were celebrated back home. Regardless of that, they did their best to ensure that we were able to participate in customs that other children were also taking part in. My mother would go Valentine shopping with me and help me write out cards for all of my classmates back in elementary school. She would make sure that I had one card for each classmate and sometimes a small dollar chocolate to go along with it. If I had not participated in these activities, then perhaps I would have been ostracized by the other children for not taking part in something that all the other kids were doing. Halloweens were special days because of all the fun I had dressing up as a witch or a clown or an undead zombie. My mom would help me paint my face with fake blood and gashes and send me off to school in full costume, and my dad would volunteer to take us around the neighborhood for Trick-or-Treating. I’m grateful that I was able to have this experience as a child. It helped me feel like a part of something bigger, even if it was something that my parents didn’t understand.

I realize that as we all grew older, we developed our own personalities and our own distinct opinions. Typically, people my age have a very Westernized mindset since the large majority of us grew up in a Western world. Our parents still carry their old fashioned Eastern ideals, since that is what they have known for most of their lives. There’s a gap between what we think is acceptable and normal, versus what our parents think is acceptable and normal. For example, our parents would not often mingle with the opposite gender in a casual setting, whereas a lot of children of immigrants have platonic friends from both genders that they like to spend time with. Our parents believe that there is a set and strict way of living, while most of us live by the philosophy that life is short and we have to live it to the fullest. It’s not that either perspective of life is wrong. The issue is that both generations believe their own standpoint to be the right one.

When I think about everything that my parents had done for me and given me as a child, I realize that they’ve helped me in ways that I definitely took for granted. Only now do I remember all the times that my mom spent her time trying to make out my illegible handwriting to type up an essay assignment for me on our old dial-up computer, or my dad making me help him assemble furniture for the house. Our parents should also realize that we do try to make them proud in everything that we do, because we understand the sacrifices that they have made to leave their childhood homes and start a new life for us in this country. I try to repay my parents in the small ways that I can, such as introducing them to new technology and teaching them how to use it so that they can keep up with modern changes. When I was younger I always wanted everything that the other kids had, and my parents gave me whatever they could. But it was after I grew up and starting working to make my own money that I realized how much of a struggle life really is. By that time, I learned to be more appreciative of what I already had.

I think that there is a lot of opportunity for discussion between us and our parents. Our parents don’t often understand our Western language and a lot of misunderstandings take place as a result. That being said, there are ways that we can bridge this gap. If our parents are willing to sit down and have a discussion about what is considered normal in Western culture, and learn to accept it as easily as they accepted things like Halloween and Thanksgiving, then that is just the first step to a better relationship between parent and child.

On the other hand, our generation will also need to work on finding the time in our busy lives between work and school to ensure that we meet our parents halfway to have these discussions. A friend of mine mentioned to me that her parents are very logical and progressive, but despite that they still sometimes don’t understand what it’s like to be in our generation in the Western world. Facilitating conversation is the best way to alleviate the stress and frustration that we sometimes have when we argue about the differences between Eastern and Western culture. Our generation has all these brand new influences, namely the media and fast-changing technology that our parents were not exposed to in their time. It’s up to both sides to set aside our pride and try to foster communication between us. Having an old-fashioned mindset is not wrong, what matters is your willingness to learn and progress.

Ocean Breath

Ujjayi breathing: the act of taking long, smooth breaths as a means of both relaxation and energizing your mind, body, and soul. Also known as ‘ocean breath’.

There is something so meditative about the simple act of breathing. Think about back to when you used to run marathons for track and field day in elementary school. All I can remember is how the gym teacher would chant, in through the nose, out through the mouth, as we jogged lap after lap. At work I take the stairs up five flights from the lunch room to my desk and repeat the same words to myself when I feel like I’m losing my breath. In through the nose, out through the mouth. This control in your breathing actually strengthens your lungs and your heart, leading to a healthier body. Think of ujjayi breathing as a way to mimic the push and pull of the ocean tide. You pull in your breath and with a whoosh you let it back out, like the sound of the waves.

Yoga is an excellent place to learn to control your breathing. The classes that I attend are quiet spaces where I encounter people from many different walks of life. I usually sit right behind a group of surprisingly nimble elder women who are there to bring some life back into their ageing bones. There are middle aged men who attend the classes to heal their back pains, especially after hunching over a desk all day. There are also other people like me, young professionals who sometimes just need a moment of peace and quiet in an age where everything feels like its moving at light speed.

The word ‘yoga’ itself is a Sanskrit word for unifying the mind, body, and spirit. The practice brings an awareness to your body that improves alignment, flexibility, strength, and balance. It brings you a sense of being comfortable in your own skin, and it teaches you to be patient and, above all, forgiving. It is said that people who practice yoga also learn how to deal with the self as well as deal with others. You learn to listen to your body and gently push your limits with every breath that you take, which carries over into our daily lives as well. We, as a collective community of individuals, need to learn to be patient and understand how to push without going too far.

The yoga studio that I currently frequent is located in downtown Markham, in a unit that has windows that face the northern and eastern directions. The yoga room is a large, rectangular space with two walls of windows and one full wall of mirrors. We enter the room and instantly feel the heat from the heated ceiling panels opening our pores and soaking our bones with warmth. I place my mat down, lay out my towel, lie on my back, and wait for class to begin. The first thing the instructor tells us to do is to always give thanks for the opportunity to practice yoga, and to take a deep breath in through our nose, and out through the mouth with an audible sigh. This is the sound of all our troubles and worries dissolving into the air as we sharpen our focus into the present. We then utter a single Om (more correctly pronounced as Aum) in unison with the class, followed by a silence.

The symbolism of the mantra Aum runs deep in yoga practices. The sound of Aum is in harmony with the sound of the universe, by chanting it you are planting a tiny seed inside yourself that allows you to tune in to everything that exists around you. This is how you acknowledge your connection to all other living things in the universe, with a simple vibration of sound that passes through your lips. Aum is a powerful spiritual symbol in Hindu culture that refers to the duality between Atman (the true self, your soul) and Brahman (the ultimate truth and reality of the universe). It’s used during traditional ceremonies, during rites of passage, and for meditative and spiritual practices such as yoga. It is thought to be the elemental sound associated with the creation of the universe.

It’s pretty mind-blowing, actually.

The instructor leads us through several poses once we complete our initial chant. We do a variety of warrior poses, sun salutations, eagle poses, child’s poses, upward facing dogs and, of course, the ever-popular downward facing dog. When I first started this practice, I struggled to do a decent crow pose, which is where you start in a squat and then lean forwards until you are balancing your full body weight on your hands with your knees resting just above your elbows. I kept falling over and feeling like the palms of my hands were on fire. My warrior poses were shaky and I couldn’t balance on one leg for more than six seconds. It’s kind of intimidating to be in a room full of people who are better than you are. That being said, it’s increasingly rewarding when you are finally able to breathe deeply into a pose with the correct stance and posture. You feel your breath permeating your body and absorb into each of your organs, filling you to the brim.

At the end of our classes, we transition into our final Shavasana pose, which is where we lie down on our backs with our palms facing skywards and take deep, ocean breaths. I always feel that the end of the practice is the best part. I feel the sweat from the past hour roll down my skin and soak into the mat. I relax my shoulders and let my body melt into the ground, limb by limb. There comes a point where my ocean breaths have become shallow and more spaced out without my realizing it. I tune into my body and listen as my muscles tell me how tired they are and marvel at how much I strained myself. Everything else just comes to a stand-still. You tend to forget what you were stressed about at work that day, you forget the argument you had with your friend/parent/significant other. Your mind goes blank and you zone out, almost until you fall asleep.

Finally, the voice of the instructor calls us back to our bodies. I wiggle the awareness back into my fingers and toes and blink my eyes open into the darkened room. We slowly sit back up, backs straight and legs crossed. We take a moment of silence before the instructor thanks us all for sharing our energies with each other. We then take a final breath in through the nose and breathe out with a sigh through the mouth, and say Namaste in unison to formally end the practice. We roll up our mats, put our things away and head back out into our separate lives. The hour that I spend with these strangers means so much more to me than the hours I spend at work or at home with my family. It’s the quiet peacefulness that you absorb into your body and carry with you throughout the rest of your day.

Yoga is for the people who want to bring a sense of balance into their lives. The feeling that you get when you leave the hot room and step into the refreshing cool air beyond it is like no other. Being a part of the practice helps me feel like I’m more in touch with my spiritual side. My breaths have more meaning now and every step I take feels more firm and grounded.

This is what I learned from this practice: inhale the awareness into your body, and exhale the doubt and negativity. In through the nose, out through the mouth.

Thoughts on 2016

As the first day of the new year comes to a close I can’t help but take a minute to reflect on the past couple months and all that’s changed in the world. We’ve had a lot of crazy things happen to us – there was the Brexit fiasco, Trump won the US presidency against Clinton, we’ve lost a large number of people near and dear to our hearts, and we’ve experienced terror like never before.

Keeping all that in mind, we’ve also done some great things too. We’ve had an unforgettable summer Olympics, the giant panda is no longer on the endangered list, we had some great music releases (Lemonade quenched all the thirst), and other truly unforgettable moments. This just goes to show that mankind isn’t far from change, we’re capable of being positive when the future looks bleak. When people die, we find a way to honour their memory by shining light on their achievements and not their failures. When the Orlando, Paris, and other terrifying events happened we stood in solidarity and came together to help our neighbors. We finally are taking significant action against climate change to make the world better for our future generations.

We should take a page out of our own books and strive to better ourselves in the coming year. Every day should be better than the last, and every day we should be helping those in need and working to change the world. There are so many things that we have been gifted with (Pokemon Go and offline downloading on Netflix ftw) and many more to look forward to.

 

So with that being said: goodbye 2016, here we come 2017!

It’s Pronounced Vidhurah

This is something that I know a lot of people can relate to. When the supply teacher walks in and begins the attendance at the beginning of class, I just sit and wait for the inevitable.

“Vi-, Va-, V-…umm…”

“It’s Vidhurah, I’m here.”

The above interaction is usually followed by said teacher attempting to repeat my name, then me saying it again correctly, a back and forth until they either give up or finally get it kind of right. What I tell people is that it rhymes with fedora (as in the very popular type of hat) but starts with a V. When I go to Starbucks I sometimes tell the barista that my name is Victoria which I see as the Western equivalent of my name, or I just shorten it to V. Over the years I’ve learned that I need to “American-ize” it, so to speak. I’ve had to mispronounce my own name so that others can somewhat attempt to say it.

Those extra letters are in my name due to the positions of the stars and planets at my time of birth. All that information was mapped and my family used numerology to plan out the best combination of letters that would bring the most prosperity and luck into my life. I know a lot of us Tamil kids roll our eyes and sigh when we hear the word ‘astrology’ but it’s a pretty interesting tradition of our culture. I love that my name is unique, and to me it has almost a mystical energy around it. I feel like my name protects me, and what I’ve learned from various shows and movies is that a name has power. There is power in identity, a name reflects who somebody is to their most bare spirit. The way you pronounce your name, the way it’s spelled, your name gives you your most basic sense of self.

If  I were to describe it, my name is pronounced with the ‘dhu’ sounding more like ‘thu’, and with the ‘rah’ slightly rolling off the tongue. I’ve spent my whole life hearing people say it differently, but I’ve grown to like it. I’m more grateful of the fact that people at least try and say it the way it was intended. I like how there are so many different ways of saying my name. I’ve heard all the variations, from Vadora to  Vid-who-ra, and I actually find it all quite amusing. I know that many, many people can relate to me, some of us have pretty complicated names, and I know that a lot of us have gotten frustrated at the number of times we’ve had to correct someone.

What I want to say is to forgive those who fail. We grew up pronouncing syllables a certain way, the ‘rah’ sound rolls off my tongue much more easily than for my non-South Asian friends. It’s like how I can’t really pronounce French words properly because I didn’t grow up with the practice of speaking it everyday. Some people just can’t say it right, and that’s honestly okay. I love my name and what it stands for, it has so many meanings that really amaze me. Vidhurah is a Goddess. Vidhurah is to be without beginning, middle, or end, or to suffer separation. Vidhurah is my name and I wear it proudly.

A Rant About Tipping Your Server

There was a period of time when I worked as a waitress in a quaint little breakfast place down deep in Scarborough. My overall experience there was pretty good, I had a great boss, the food was fantastic (who doesn’t love breakfast food) and the customer’s were great people. What really drives me nuts though is the fact that some people don’t think that servers should be tipped. Because of my time as a server, I make sure to always tip generously when I eat out. I have several friends who are currently or have been servers at one point in their lives, they probably understand what I’m saying here. Being a server is stressful. You deal with being on your feet for your entire shift carrying heavy plates back and forth. We carry drinks on trays praying that we don’t slip and cause a major accident. We deal with customers who think they’re high and mighty, and customers who are just generally mean people. There’s literally blood, sweat, and tears that goes into this kind of job. The entire industry is built upon sub-minimum wage and tiresome physical labor.

Being a server means being a master in multi-tasking. You’re constantly making sure that things are up to the standards of the customers. Everything has to be spotless and clean, the food has to be presented perfectly, drinks have to be served immediately, tables have to get their orders at the same time. You have to please the customers, laugh at their jokes and marvel at how great the weather is today. We are essentially the faces of the establishment we’re working at. Customers see us and they have to understand what it is that the restaurant is about. We’re family-oriented, we’re fun, we’re energized, we always have a big smile on our face! You can imagine how tiring that would get after just a few hours. Sometimes it’s actually fun to talk to customers, you get to meet some awesome people from different walks of life. With that being said, there are still those days where you just aren’t “on” all the time. Some days are worse than others, when it gets really busy and you’re not able to deliver as well as you are capable. The feeling of being so stressed out that you want to cry in the middle of your shift is not a fun feeling. It’s happened to me, it’s happened to my friends, it’s happened to nearly every server out there. We all have our horror stories.

A vast majority of servers don’t get paid the same amount as the most basic office job. Full-time employees in the service industry rely on tips to get by because minimum wage isn’t paying the rent. I myself was pulling two jobs at the time because the wages just weren’t enough to make my student loan payments. You don’t know which of your servers is trying to pay their way through school with their tips. You don’t know who’s there doing their best to feed their kids. You don’t know who is out of school and doesn’t have the education to get a better job.You don’t know who really needs the money, or who is just trying it out for the experience. Tipping is a standard practice and if you’re one of those people who don’t tip at the end of your meal, then please rethink your decision and understand that if the situation were reversed, your server would definitely tip you. I’m not ignoring the fact that sometimes the service isn’t up to par, and believe me when I say that no one is more sorry and embarrassed by it than your server. It frustrates me when people don’t think that servers deserve to be tipped, don’t demand a service and then belittle the people who provide it for you. That’s exactly what it feels like when we don’t get tipped. It feels pretty damn shitty.