Meet Kristina

Hey fam! I'm Kristina and honestly, I'm just going to get right to it. I started my hospitality journey in 2005, at 18, and have worked every restaurant role imaginable. I even made pizzas once (literally once)! I began my career as a busser and finished as a GM. The last few years of restaurants ruined me. The hours, the stress, the people (co workers, bosses & guests) were wearing me thin. The passion I once had for the guest experience had deteriorated into true resentment and hatred.

Restaurants, however, are not what started my mental health journey. In 2014 my ultra tight knit family lost two members, suddenly and less than two months apart. While mindlessly moving through life with no clue how to process grief, I happened to meet my (still current) partner. I was so unhappy I couldn't see the amazing thing I had in front of me. I was emotional and verbally abusive and blamed him for everything that was wrong in my life. Eventually our relationship was so broken, it ended. That was the fire I needed to change.

I hated myself for what I had done. I couldn't believe how toxic my life was and how mean and evil of a person I was to those who were closest to me, the ones who really cared about me. In the midst of grief and a breakup I finally asked for help. I am so fortunate that on my first try, my counsellor was incredible. She exposed me to the world of mindfulness, awareness, the power of presence and showed me many techniques to managing my pain and relieving my trauma. Through this, not only did I work through my grief (and save my relationship!) but I also unlocked old trauma and found peace.

Now back to my hospitality life, even with all these tools at my finger tips, I struggled hard to stay a float. I drank every day just to enjoy work. I ate like shit, smoked so many cigarettes, didn't exercise ever, slept the weirdest damn hours and ended up with some health concerns (sidebar: I had previously abused drugs but have been clean for many years).

It felt like no matter what I did, I couldn't get ahead emotionally. I was constantly being dragged down and I was exhausted from always fighting the pain and mental stress. I had already conquered the hell of grief, so one day I said "f**k this s**t, I'm out" and I got a god damn day job and went back to school.

That was a whole new can of worms but I kept telling myself this stress, now, is WORTH IT. Working full time and studying full time will get me to a place where I can have work/life balance. The outcome? I nailed it!

Now, I'm not saying you can't be in hospitality and have the balance. I just couldn't do it. I had let my resentment and stress run my life for so long there was no loving it anymore. Trust me, I've tried. Fast forward to today and I am using what I studied in school (accounting) in a restaurant. I have the hours that suit my lifestyle, an incredibly supportive and kind boss with the most unbelievable group of people to match. I feel so blessed to have a job that I don't dread waking up for.

86 project exists so you don't have to be the next Kristina. So that you can find that happy place that I fought too hard and too long to find. I don't want you to cry constantly before and after your shifts because you feel under appreciated and overworked, or you're stressed financially. My goal is to help you harness the skills I have developed and walk beside you.You DO NOT have to suffer and wonder what the hell is wrong with your life.

Are you wondering why the hell you should listen to me? I have no certifications, diplomas, masters or education (in Mental Health that is!) and I haven’t spent a decade with monks meditating. What I have done is grown up with a pretty average family, was a bad teenager, did drugs, had awful friends and boyfriends, lost, grieved and grieved so much more, hit the rockiest of anxiety (that I couldn’t identify at the time) ridden bottoms.

I was ruled by my emotions, reactive, mean and then sorry, constantly begging for attention, love, needing so much. I was never fulfilled even though my life was good in the books. I was stuck thinking this is just how it is; this is who I am and how I’m meant to feel.

I found my way out, I created a better life for myself by learning how to identify my triggers, feelings, and anxieties. I learnt how to not care about a lot of things, and I mean really not care. I cultivated the bravery to be disliked and cleanse toxic relationships from my life. I am SO DAMN present that little joys in life fill me up so much I cry at commercials.

I haven’t found enlightenment, I’m hardly always ever happy and I still fight anxiety frequently. I’m just a fucking person with experiences I think are relatable to a lot of people. I developed a truly liberating view of the world and I want to share it.

I cannot wait to grow with my community, immediate and global.

- Xtina

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