“I’m an actor. I’m not going to need a day job for long.”
That was about eight years ago.
I spent the next four years going from job to job. Some high-paying acting gigs, some were minimum wage day jobs.
Three years later…
“I’m going to get out of my current day job before I hit my four year anniversary.”
As my four years crept closer and closer, I started panicking.
“I’m going to get out of here. I will find something else. Anything else. I will not hit four years at this dead-end job.”
That’s why, at the three year and eleven month mark, I was shocked at how quickly my eyes filled with tears when my boss regretfully, guiltily, called to inform me that I was laid off because of Covid 19.
“I’m so, so sorry”, he told me, his words burdened by unwieldy contrition as heavy as a grand piano. “Our sales have dropped exponentially and we can’t afford to keep the team on, so I have to let you go.”
I hung up the phone feeling lost, alone, and afraid.
“This wasn’t how it was supposed to happen!”
I repeated this to myself, in the various stages of grief, as the reality of the situation, of the world’s mighty predicament, settled into my mind like a child’s footprint hardening in wet cement.
No, this wasn’t how I’d imagined it would happen.
I’d had the visualisation of handing in my two weeks’ notice in light of booking a grand acting gig. Instead, I was fired because of a new virus sweeping the globe. I’d never lost a job before. My body shuddered with terror at the thought of losing my health insurance during the current healthcare crisis.
All of that, all of my dreams of happiness through the things I love to do, have been overtaken by the overwhelming openness to which my eyes have been subjected. All of the time I’d spent in recent months had been about my career, being able to do what I love for a living. Now, everything has been turned around. Acting, music, writing, have all gone by the wayside as I have been forced to just find a job, any job except in dealing face-to-face with the public. Something, just to help ensure that I will be able to pay rent.
As many people across the country are probably also experiencing, I filed for unemployment due to a lost job and have received no response. Not that I blame our government workers in the slightest. I can’t imagine what kind of majority of our country has been forced to apply for unemployment. Imagine the sea of paperwork our civil servants have to wade through.
My mind has been grappling between the need for money and the need to stay safe and healthy. Do I risk not being able to pay rent, or get a job immediately at a grocery store and risk contracting the dreaded Coronavirus?
I’m sure this is a struggle that most everyone is facing right now.
Every day I hear about more and more people that I know who are being diagnosed with the virus. It is disheartening and frightening.
However, here is what I’ve come to realize:
Health is the most important thing. Don’t put yourself at risk for disease. And, if you’re not worried about yourself, don’t put others who may be in high-risk groups, whether you know them or not, at risk. Even though I am struggling, it’s sort of been a blessing that I lost my job. This way, I can stay safe.
Now is the time for rebirth. Every 100 years or so, a crisis like this occurs. The last time was the Spanish Flu of 1918. This type of crisis is what resets the country. Best case scenario? Our economy will even itself out. Costs will go down, and minimum wage will increase, balancing the incredibly tipped scales of distribution of wealth in our country.
Use this time to clear your mind.
If you also are dealing with a lost job, use the in-between times of finding a new job to meditate, garden, read, play the piano, whatever it is that helps you clear your mind. I, too, am looking tirelessly for another source of income. But when my brain gets exhausted from reading about one work-from-home job to another, I use the quiet time to untangle my thoughts. I haven’t had that time in a long time because I’ve been working so much.
The bad thing about this situation is that it’s happening to everyone.
However, the good thing about this situation is that it’s happening to everyone.
I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of kindness and generosity I am seeing from my fellow human beings at this time. There are so many offering to help those in need, the elderly, the immuneo-compromised, the frightened. I hear about people leaving chalk drawings on the ground with words of hope for kids to see. We may all feel alone, but we are alone together. We are all going through this as one. That is the best that we can ask for.
Our government is taking action as we speak. The stimulus package has passed, and everyone who is dealing with a lost job will receive a check at some point in the near future. Hang in there.
Please don’t forget the appropriate cautionary measures. Social distancing, small groups, and isolation especially if you’re not feeling well are the most important things we can do right now so as not to spread infection. But be there for your loved ones, if not in person, then through video call. That will make all the difference in raising spirits, which will, in turn, aid in the healing. We are powerful.
We will get through this. It may take longer than we’d prefer, but this is not the end to humanity.
I’ve been gazing out the window every day for the past week, sanctioned in this apartment, watching the unseasonable rain falling to the ground. It is unheard of for rain to be falling for so many days in a row in late March in Los Angeles, but, to me, it’s Mother Nature’s way of giving us permission to stay inside and take care of ourselves.
To all of those who have lost loved ones to this terrible infection, I am so sorry and I am grieving with you.
To all of you who have contracted the Coronavirus and have recovered, you are an inspiration.
And, to all of you who took ALL OF THE TOILET PAPER, please stop. I was making fun of all you fools, until I realized that I only had one role left, and now I actually need some.