It’s not who you are, it’s what you do

Every so often, we may fall into the trap of wishing people could see inside our minds. See what we truly think but can’t express, what we’d like to do but haven’t put the hours into just yet. We wish they could see all of our yet unfulfilled dreams, aspirations, all the good we’re yet to do for the world.

Every so often, after one interaction or another—be it with customers, friends, or even dates—I’d leave feeling a little disappointed. I thought maybe, if the person had seen what was going through my mind, it would have been different. If they knew how my day or week had been, they’d have understood why I didn’t put my best foot forward. Or maybe if they had just seen what I thought about saying but didn’t say. Yes, I know how self centered and irrational that thought is.



“We offer service, there’s no higher purpose.”
“Than pumping gas?”
“Service to others.”

To help pay the bills, I’ve been working as a waiter for some time while going through my schooling. The salary isn’t particularly good, has me on my feet for several hours and whenever I could rest a little, I’m sent home so the restaurant doesn’t have to pay me any extra hours.

My experience isn’t far from the conditions most waiters find at most restaurants. The hours suck, your social life is compromised and you can be sure that whenever you’re inside, you’ll be running around doing something. The customers? Some better, some worse.

Everyone knows all of that subconsciously, we’ve all been in a restaurant at one point in our lives and it’s not too hard to form a picture, which is why everyone is surprised when I mention that yes, I do like working there and if I’m running around with a smile on my face, that’s not for tips, it’s because I’m enjoying it immensely.

“I’m serving others,” it’s my argument, which is always met with skeptical looks and phrases like “for money,” “you’re just bringing them drinks,” or “you’re too idealistic.” I won’t argue with any of that, I am doing it for money, technically I am just bringing them drinks and I am very much an idealist, thank you.

I think a fair amount of idealism is even necessary at times. I like the idea that we can put as much meaning as we want into whatever we do and if that helps me treat the customers better, or live better in general, I’ll be doing exactly that.

The beauty of service is that it leaves us vulnerable and as a direct result of that, makes us a lot more human. In serving, we put ourselves at other people’s disposal and allow them to guide us. A more extreme case of that service was seen in the Way of the Warrior series, in warriors serving their leaders and putting their lives in line for that, but not all service has to be like that.

Just like not all service has to be while working under the umbrella term of “service.” We can serve when a friend asks us for help, we can serve when we see someone going through a tough time, we can even serve by being good students or good citizens.

Just like how we should create instead of only consume, we should all serve and not only be served.

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