Being thick-skinned isn’t easy. I was always told as a child/young adult that I needed to “be more thick-skinned” and not take everything to heart. Slowly but surely I have started to learn this, but it’s still difficult from time to time. As I want to go into the world of journalism/PR, this is certainly a trait I am going to have to master. Even at this very early stage of being told ‘no’ by so many companies/newspapers/magazines when applying for work experience and internships tests your thick-skinned-ness, however when I finally do get my foot in the door, I’m really going to have toughen up.
Being thick-skinned is necessary in so many areas in our life. Yesterday I went for a trial at a restaurant in the city where I study and it was hands-down the worst trial I have ever experienced and I have been waitressing at different places since I was 16. One of the worst parts about it, was that the chef (who also happened to be the mother of the owner & waitress that I was working with) was the devil incarnate. She wouldn’t smile and kept criticising everything that I did. Fine, you think. You’re a chef and they’re notoriously pissy in the kitchen. However, when she made a huge mistake and messed up someone’s order and we both knew it was her and not myself, she had a go at me in front of her daughter and said that I told her the wrong thing. Obviously I wanted to scream “Your mother is a bitch and she screwed up!” but I couldn’t. I had to bite my tongue and face the huge backlash that was going on downstairs. Because of this mistake that the chef had made, every other order was seriously behind, the owner/waitress was getting noticeably angrier and angrier with me, telling me off, telling me to be faster even though I was doing everything that I could and running around like a headless chicken. I wasn’t paid for the trial, fair enough, but after five hours of standing on my feet and being treated like shit (and honestly, I’m not exaggerating when I say the way I was spoken to you wouldn’t talk to a dog that way) there was one fleeting moment of utter stress at about 1pm where I wanted to burst into tears and walk out.
But no. It was water off a duck’s back – even if I had to pretend it was that way, rather than it coming totally naturally. Every time I went to the kitchen the mother was arsey and rude, having a go whenever there was a spare moment and I just thought f*** it. I pursed my lips and I put up with her crap and I just told myself that believe it or not, it wasn’t personal, and she was obviously a very unhappy woman. At 3pm the trial was over, and I couldn’t leave quick enough. The owner said I had done a great job, however there “weren’t really any shifts until June” – what???? – and I just left, deflated and with huge blood blisters on my feet. I told my Mum and she said that I must not take the job and should email the owner telling her that I have worked in many different restaurants and never been treated in such a way. My boyfriend thinks that the daughter will know this full well and either doesn’t care or can’t do much about it and so I shouldn’t bother.
I’m not sure what I’ll do, but the one thing I can take from this rather horrible experience, is that it pays to be thick-skinned. I know that many years ago, everything that horrible chef said to me would have really struck a chord and effected me. Even though she doesn’t know me from Adam, I would have taken her harsh criticisms personally, but yesterday every time she was a total bitch, I just gave a bloody great whack – in my imagination, obviously – said “Yes! Absolutely! Of course! Yup! It was me! I messed up! Ok! Yeah!” and did the job at hand. Being thick-skinned is hugely beneficial, because you learn to remove your emotions from a situation and that makes things a whole lot easier. It just takes a lot of practise to get to that stage!