I'm 20 and stressing to the point of getting grey hair. It's too much

Jake Turner
·3-min read

Name: Jake Turner

Age: 20

Dreams of: being a chef, musician and jujitsu fighter

My birthday came this month just as Covid round three hit in New South Wales. I was really hoping it wouldn’t happen, but everything happens for a reason. Instead of my plans to go camping with my family I had three dinners so I could see everyone (we are only allowed 20 people at a time and I have a very big family). It was relaxing seeing everyone all having fun and laughing, but I’ve felt overloaded at my work. I just feel like it’s too much. And it’s not just me.

I have a lot of friends in the hospitality industry with the same problems: minimal hours, and when working, feel like they work as if they’re a slave. I understand why. Businesses are just under intense pressure to make sure we are eliminating all costs. It’s just hard; most of my friends and myself are now feeling the stress of our bosses.

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We are all under stress working in the industry. Kitchens and businesses are under so much pressure. While there is still a lot of work going for qualified chefs like me, that work is especially stressful right now. We are all being asked to do more with less. I’m 20, I feel I shouldn’t have to deal with this. I should be focusing on my health, training hard and recording music while working. I understand that this is the time in life I’m supposed to be working hard to set myself up, but with Covid around, I feel I’ve got more stress than I bargained for. When I hear my dad’s friends talk about their carefree youth, it’s too overwhelming.

So, this year so far hasn’t been great at all. I’m stressing to the point of getting grey hair. I do understand that God gives his strongest angels the hardest challenges, but strength isn’t always the answer. There’s always a smarter way of doing everything and maybe in this scenario, the smartest options are going to be the hardest. Maybe the smartest option is leaving a job that is damaging my mental health? My goals won’t ever change. I love cooking and I’m very lucky to be a chef. It is a really great feeling to know that no matter the situation, I’ll always be able to cook somewhere with my qualification. What I wish I got told when I was younger is: “Make sure you learn about stuff you love.”

I also know that chefs come in a limited supply. There’s always apprentices, but a qualified chef that can run a kitchen is hard to come by. I know I’ve got the skill-set to acquire another job. Heaps of places are hiring because I guess they’re having the same problems with staff burning out. This is the second place I’ve helped start up in my career, and at my age, it’s great. Although I feel like I’ve got a lot of experience and knowledge, I also feel like I can get treated like a kid.

My work has been very stressful. It has been really draining me lately. I feel very overwhelmed and flustered, maybe because this is the beginning of a new year. I’ve just turned 20. This is not how I want to be this whole year. I’ve come to realise that all that matters is my health and if this pressure and stress is affecting my health and my future career plans, I have to do something.