02/23/2015 01:14 pm ET Updated Apr 25, 2015

What My First Job After Wall Street Taught Me


For three years, my job on Wall Street defined me. It made me feel important. It made me feel like I mattered. I loved telling others that I worked in finance. It fed my ego and gave me an unwarranted sense of entitlement.

I thought working on Wall Street meant that I had made it. In some respects I had. Yet it was serving larger purpose for me. It was my identity. My source of security and feeling better about myself. It became something so much more than a job. It was a lifeline. Yet this lifeline could only last so long for me. It wasn't long before this lifeline was crushed.

If you had told me that when I started working on Wall Street that my first job post that would be a hostess at a restaurant, I would have laughed in your face. I would have thought that was the farthest from my reality and looked down at anyone who held that job. I could not even fathom that to be true for me.

Yet, after getting sober in September 2012, my first job post Wall Street was as a hostess at a restaurant. I remember walking in for the first time and told that I needed to open and close the doors for the patrons. My insides wanted to crawl out and scream. I had a good college education, a successful career on Wall Street, money in the bank, yet I was working as a hostess?

It took me a few shifts to warm up to the job, but something happened that I never would have expected. I began to enjoy my shifts. I felt alive and connected. I felt that I was being useful and of service to others. I was able to put the thoughts that kept me feeling paralyzed and insecure to the side and be present with myself.

They say that by doing esteemable acts, we gain self-esteem. This was the case for me. Showing up for work each day and being present with my coworkers and the patrons made me feel good about myself. It gave me a sense of belonging and purpose. I searched for this my whole life. I thought I could find it in Wall Street, in drugs, in alcohol, or in relationships. Yet, this sense of belonging ultimately comes from within and my job as a hostess taught me that.

It taught me that wherever I go, there I am. I thought I had to escape myself for many years and constantly be on the go and in search for me to fill the void within. I didn't realize the journey is inward, not outward.

I was able to see others happy and content with themselves. Whether they were a server, a cook, a busboy, or a patron. I felt the love and the presence of others. Sometimes it takes seeing it in others to see it in ourselves. That was the truth for me.

I began to see that happiness doesn't mean money. It doesn't mean a job on Wall Street. It doesn't mean the relationship, the car, or the home. Happiness is ultimately found within and sometimes it takes stepping back from your current circumstances to see that. It worked for me.