I’m sorry for what you’re going through and I hope you can get back on track.
I understand how you feel because this was me a few months ago—though not with retail, but with hotels… I, too, felt stuck. I’d only ever known the bottom of the food chain because I hadn’t had much experience (especially since I’d only ever work under my mom). So, my past experience was: dish washer, pool attendant (glorified lifeguard), and breakfast attendant. Then I got my “big break” from these lower-waged jobs to front desk at a hotel, which I loathed… mostly because of crappy customers and bad employers. But it actually isn’t that bad if you live in a small town area and go for night audit (working 11pm-7am). Not many people to see and, if you’re lucky, not much to do. Some places pay well, but the wage isn’t as good as fast food or doing some retail jobs (like in my area, Walmart’s hiring at 18 an hour for the night shifters). Though, on a personal level, while 18 an hour sounds great… working at Walmart? Not so great.
But my night audit position is what helped me land the library job I have today… because it’s customer service. But thankfully, it’s a much better and healthier environment. Plus, the people aren’t so bad. I mean, there’s still a couple crab-apples and idiots walking around, but you’ll get that anywhere. I’m also getting paid more than I was at my hotel job… another plus.
However, for you, it doesn’t have to be things you’ve done recently to put on your resume. Your resume can be filled with normal jobs you’ve had as well as volunteer work and things that you’ve done that can boost your chances. My resume has doing Ambassador work for Wattpad on it. xD
Another thing to think about with your resume is to pretty it up and detail it. My original resume (one my mom made me ages ago) was very bland. This was how I revamped it with a nice cover letter that also helped my chances lol.
But otherwise, think about your skills and talents. What have you done in the past or even now that can help you get a job that’s not in retail?
My sister was also in a similar boat. All she’d ever known was night audit, too, but she moved up on that chain to front desk manager and had the skills of a manager. But shortly before we moved in together, she found a job opening at a church for a manager position and she was scared. She’s religious, so it was up her alley. But everyone she looked up had these fancy degrees and she was just a high school graduate. She never applied… but my parents did and got her an interview. They loved her instantly and offered her the job on the spot. She loves her job and the people she works with now, and she’s more than just a manager now as she’s planned and hosted multiple events, does a lot of artwork design, etc. So, these are things she can take to other jobs if she wishes to change her position.
But, truthfully, you may have to make a sacrifice until you can find something better. Personally, my town is very small and the only jobs you can have without a college degree are retail around here. Otherwise, everything else requires a bachelor’s degree and multiple years worth of experience. Or, they’re not hiring at all. And so, me being in a similar pair of shoes as you, I didn’t want to take retail. I know that it sucks worse than anything, so I stayed night audit despite being very unhappy and exhausted (mentally, emotionally, and physically). The only job in town I’d leave the hotel job for was if the library had an opening, and they finally did when I had the last straw. My first interview went great, but didn’t get hired. They found someone else. Until a month later, they had another opening and I got a second interview which went great and got offered the job.
And, honestly, if you try to find a job that you may think is “above you” because you’re afraid of going to a job that isn’t retail with little to no experience or because it may be intimidating, please know that you and your knowledge is worth a lot more than you think. You should never downgrade yourself just because of your insecurities or how you’ve only experienced one kind of industry.