When I was 16, I wanted to work at this restaurant called Java Grill. It was a burrito joint that did burgers, smoothies, and coffee drinks. It was a seat yourself, grab your food behind the counter kind of place.
It was about a 20 minute walk from my house and I could get tips. I wanted a job and I wanted my own money. So, one random summer day, I went in and applied to be a counter person. Right after I handed in my application, I was told they didn’t need any help.
I then did the only thing I knew how to do. I kept showing up. I went there for a berry monster smoothie almost daily after I applied and continued to ask if they were hiring yet.
I was on a quest.
Finally, about 3-4 weeks later, they called me.
Guess what? They were hiring.
I was all in. Whatever hours I could get, I was there.
I started the next day.
On my day one, I met Rafa, the chef. A Mexican guy who spoke about 50% English. I loved him.
Long story short, Rafa and I became very good friends who laughed a lot. We joked about his wife and kids, laughed at the crazy antics of the coke-snorting meat cutter in the back (he eventually got fired, go figure), and spent many evenings sweeping, mopping floors, and cleaning bathrooms together.
We spent 3 summers working together.
Shortly, after that final summer, Java Grill went out of business, and sadly, I never got the opportunity to say goodbye to Rafa.
Fast forward, (10 years since Rafa and I had met) I was 26 and the Director of Nutrition at a fancy health club.
I was in my office laughing at something. And down this long hall, I heard, “Corin?! Corin?!”
Suddenly and instinctively, a HUGE smile washed over my face, soon followed by many, many tears…
It was Rafa. He was exclaiming, “OMG your laugh! That’s how I knew it was you. Your laugh! Your laugh! Corin! Oh Corin!”
Tears were streaming down my face…
He was there, with an outside cleaning company, to deep clean the club with some other teammates.
When I heard this, it made my heart sink.
But then I asked him how he was.
In all embarrassing naivety, I thought he’d say not good, given his line of work.
Boy did he show me wrong – he lit up! Exclaiming how he now has health benefits, makes more money, is treated really well, and has many opportunities to grow. Listening to him made my heart so full.
To this day, I’ll never forget this story. It’s one of my favorites and it taught me a lot.
1.) Never assume and always ask. You never know how someone else is feeling or thinking until you talk to them and ask.
2.) Be kind. Every interaction with another human being has the power to change their world. And the world is a small place.
3.) Never give up. I’m forever grateful for that 16-year-old version of me who really wanted a job because she taught me the value of showing up. To not just give up on my relationship with my body or food because I thought it was pointless. To keep trying to find love because she saw hope. To accept that past “failures,” weren’t really failures, but rather signs I wasn’t ready, didn’t have the right tools, that I was still learning … or maybe, that I hadn’t really wholeheartedly tried yet.
4.) Most importantly, to ask myself the question: How do I want to be remembered? Rafa remembered me for my laugh. And this newer, older version of me had all these food and dating fears… Did I really want to be remembered as being the woman who repeatedly ditched social engagements for the gym? Who let her calorie intake or jean size determine her worth? Who always looked to her partner to determine her worth?
The answer was NO. And this answer led me to change. And it led me to eventually helping other women learn how to like themselves and ditch the diet along with the dating drama. In other words, it led me to my passion.
So I want you to do me a favor and ask yourself – what impression do YOU want to leave?
With your body? With yourself? With friends? With your relationships?
And are you showing up how you want to be remembered?
It’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day and to forget what’s really important to you.
I always say awareness is the first step to change.
For this food for thought, I thank Rafa.
With so much love,
p.s. Writing this story, still brings tears to my eyes. I hope you can find a Rafa too – or even better – be someone’s Rafa.