Entertainment Staff & the COVID-19 Pandemic: Making Sense Of Now
By Tom Warneke
I’ve now been off work (per se) for a month. The last day of the last project I worked on was February 29th. This was by design – I wanted to take March to take stock and work on some personal projects, initially with the idea that I’d pick up more work from April onwards. That clearly isn’t happening.
The world as we know it is different now. I’ve been in social distanced isolation for about 14 days now, partially based on advice from the government and partially based on my own common sense world view.
Now that things are ramping up in just about every country on earth, you’ll no doubt be feeling similar things to me. What is this feeling?
Well, put simply – it’s an odd form of grief. It’s a kind of mourning for the world as we knew it and the lives we all held. Maybe things will go back to exactly the way they were before all this Coronavirus business started but it’s also a 99.9% bet that your life will be different in a whole host of ways.
The loss of normalcy is what most people are grieving right now.
Beyond the fact that our industry is decimated globally and most of our industry brethren are unemployed, it’s also a fear of the unknown.
We don’t know how long this will last; we don’t yet know the economic or social tolls this is taking; we don’t really know what our place is in the world when everything comes back online.
So what to do about this?
I think the first thing for everyone is acknowledging that this is just an insane time. While it’s one thing to jump on Facebook and acknowledge it through the artform of meme or sharing the latest statistic, it’s a whole other ballgame in acknowledging it to yourself. Do that. Allow yourself to be okay with the fact that your place in the world is fundamentally different now and you don’t know what it’s going to be. This in itself is pretty terrifying initially but also… kinda awesome too.
The next step is the fun part – now that you know nothing is the same, all bets are off. So assuming that every single possibility is on the table – what do you want your future to look like? I don’t just mean an amazing job, massive house, nice car, amazing friends and family and world peace. I mean, how are you going to craft your new role in the new world?
For me, this has been about accepting that realistically, there’s not going to be much work around for the next 3-6 months so I need to diversify what I do.
I’ve long had other non entertainment interests and aspirations so now’s the time to forge those contacts and learn the skills. Making concrete plans or even just brainstorming a life post Coronavirus likely goes a long way to being more okay with everything that’s going on (no matter how long it might last).
The third step is about basking in all the positives this craziness is bringing. That’s not to say anybody wants the Coronavirus outbreak and we wouldn’t get rid of it in a heartbeat. BUT – it is hard to ignore the incredible climate and environmental recovery that’s taking place in various locations around the globe, it’s hard not to notice an amazing shift in organisational culture where overnight millions of companies around the global are a lot more trusting of their staff and a lot more supportive of working from home.
It’s hard not to simply feel more connected to friends and family around the globe because while you may have been disconnected for the longest time, everyone is now unified by the same experience and lastly, it’s hard not to notice what will hopefully be a fundamental economic reprioritisation – how great that we’re now celebrating the teachers, the nurses, the artists, the delivery drivers and supermarket workers. Turns out, these people are what keep the world turning and they have been all along.
So how do you get through this strange and mysterious time?
Accept that it is what it is and it’s okay to feel however you’re feeling. Accept that the world is going to be totally different when this is all over and so therefore it’s time to create all your wild and amazing dreams – possibilities are endless. Accept that despite all the horrific and horrible effects that Coronavirus has, that some of the by-products are really beneficial if we pursue them the right way.
And on a final note, know that you’re now one of over 7 billion people all feeling the same thing, the anxieties, the sadness, the happiness, the loss and the utter confusion. So pick up the phone and call your family, your friends, your colleagues and let’s all get through whatever this is together.
Oh – and please stop touching your face :)