I came into Montclair State as a Fashion Studies major with an eagerness to follow what I thought my path would lead to, styling. I knew that freshman year was my time to get my feet wet with college classes, newfound independence, and more New York trips than I could count. Once freshman year ended and money no longer grew on trees (go figure), my new challenge was to walk into the sophomore year with killer outfits and hopefully, a job to support that. At that time, how would I possibly call myself a fashion major if I didn’t work with clothing retail? So, I prepared myself. The summer before my sophomore year, I interviewed for the Sales Associate position at my nearby Express Factory Outlet, and that got my foot in the door. Once the summer came to a close and I was ready to find a job at school, somehow a store that I never shopped at grabbed me: Abercrombie and Fitch.
Spare me the eye-rolling and incessant scoffing because I know how expensive the clothes are. More or less, I say that they grabbed or found me and not the other way around because it’s been a year and I’m still with the company. The only difference is, I was promoted to Keyholder about a month ago and got transferred to a further store. The keyholder is just another fancy term for the Manager. You know what that means: Full Time. For a year, I was familiar and quite comfortable with being a Brand Rep. that could work 25 hours a week or less on my time. Now that I’m full time, I am mandated to work 32 hours a week every week and I have a contract with my signature that proves my compliance. Will I say it’s been a walk in the park? No. But was it a great decision to truly supporting myself financially? Yes.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been there for a month and the first two weeks might’ve been the most sleep-deprived weeks of my life. My body had to get used to going to classes (yes I am also a student) and going to work right after. 5 days a week. Now that’s what I call adulting. To some that might seem trivial or expected but coming from being a part-timer with 4-5 hour shifts, the 8-hour shifts were definitely kicking my butt. Since my body has caught up, now more than ever, I focus on my mental stability to carry my busy schedule. This is why I’ve stressed my mental breaks whenever I get the chance and no, this doesn’t solely have to be on my off days. I take those breaks when I’m on the shuttle on the way to classes, grabbing food by myself, on my commute to work, or even in bed before I start my homework. Just stop everything that you’re doing and allow your mind to unwind.
So many people burn themselves out because they’re on the go and forget to check in with themselves. Have I been getting enough sleep? Is my body feeling weaker than usual? Is stress building up? Am I eating enough to nourish myself? There are so many questions that can be asked and while some may think that they don’t have enough time to worry about all of that, I’ll tell you right now that your mental/physical/emotional health comes first. Always. It doesn’t matter how much this job is paying me or how flexible they are with my class schedule, if I’m checking out mentally, my body will follow and that’s when I have to take a step back. That’s when I have to talk to Yaz and see what’s really going on and address it because if I don’t, who will? Sometimes this means being selfish. Sometimes this also means taking a break from friends and just having alone time. That’s ok. You need to do what’s best for you so you can continue to serve your best self because that is your biggest responsibility. It isn’t to see how fast you can get home after work so you can go to that party when you know you’re completely exhausted. Be reasonable, be practical, and most of all, be fair. Be fair to your mind and your body because they need you as much as you need them.