Man, times are tough right now. Who ever would have thought that 2020 would have been this damn sucky? Just about everyone that I've spoken to had visions of grandeur of what they thought 2020 was going to look like (the common theme has been, "but we were doing so well!), yet here we are 3/4's of the way done, Covid is still a pandemic, racial injustice is all around us, politics are nasty, companies are still laying people off, and so many economies, specifically the entire entertainment / events industry are struggling to get by.
Last week I published my very first blog post, detailing my experience as a furloughed employee from one of the largest entertainment companies in the world. Throughout the last week, I have heard the stories of countless fellow entertainment workers across the country who have lost their careers just like I have to this pandemic. It is devastating. So many of us are hurting right now, feeling unsure about our futures and our livelihoods. So many of us are going through similar breakdowns, feeling stuck, feeling hopeless. I want to emphasize that you are not alone, WE are not alone.
Even though I feel like I've crawled out of this deep, dark hole of #furlough #depression, I still have had a few triggering moments that have brought back tears and feelings of desperation. I write this to share that if you feel this way, your feelings are valid. I also write to share some advice of how I've been able to gain a sense of CONTROL back in my life, how its helped me kick the #FurloughBlues, and how its opened up several different work opportunities to the point where I am now getting very busy and actually turning down work. In fact, here are 10 things you should try to do if you've been recently furloughed or laid off:
1 - Update Your Resume / Portfolio - This may seem like a no-brainer, but now is the perfect time to update your resume and portfolio. Create and update your LinkedIn profile, and check out websites like Canva and NovoResume to give your resume a complete makeover. Depending on what kind of job(s) you are looking for, you will most likely need to create several versions of your resume. This will allow you to cater your resume to whatever type of job you are applying for. For example, I have separate resumes for teaching, project management, music and production. Also, make sure you are copying and pasting key words from the job descriptions that you are applying for, and use that same language to describe your skills if they pertain to you. The job market, especially in the entertainment industry, is extremely saturated right now, and hundreds of people are all applying to the same jobs right now. Copying and pasting those key words will help get you past the initial screening and hopefully place your resume in front of an actual human.
2- Build Your Personal Brand - If you are a creative professional, now is also the time to work on your portfolio, reel, audio demo, audition/performance reel. Take new professional headshots. Create your own personal or professional website, blog, podcast or online platform. Upload your creative content onto YouTube or Vimeo and create your own channel. Leverage social media to create an online audience, build your virtual network and tell the best story of YOU. If you can't work for money right now, work to invest in YOURSELF.
3- Community Outreach - We are all feeling the collective gloominess from the dark cloud of 2020 and a great way to feed your soul is to give back to the community. If you find yourself with free time, consider donating your time at a charity or church, especially if its for a cause that you feel really passionate about. In my community, there's a drive thru food bank operation that provides Free Food for Local Artists. Many of my furloughed friends have used their free time to volunteer, and I just think that's the most amazing thing that we can do right now to spread positivity and help those in need.
4- Tap Into Your Network - Now is the time to reach out to your fellow friends and colleagues in the industry to check in on them, offer support and possibly even explore future collaborations together. If you are a part of a professional organization, connect with your fellow members to share best practices and dialogue that is specific to your craft/profession. Attend online conferences, seminars and workshops. Reach out to your alma mater, see if there are any opportunities to contribute to the school's virtual event series, network with fellow alumni and professors. During the furlough I've had several conversations with my career advisors from my alma mater Full Sail University, and they have each been extremely helpful and encouraging, not to mention they have an excellent internal job posting site with very solid industry-specific leads. You never know what kind of freelance/permanent work is circling around your internal network.
5- Continued Education - Have you always wanted to go back to school for your Master's degree? Or maybe learn a new technical skill such as coding or how to use industry standard software programs such as Adobe Photoshop or Premiere? Or maybe you've always wanted to get.a real estate license or Project Management Certification? Whatever is it that you genuinely want to learn about or accomplish in your life, GO FOR IT! Just do it. No matter how old you are or how long its been since you've taken a class, use this downtime to invest in yourself! You will never know what kind of doors will open for you if you never take those steps forward!
6- Get Your Hustle On - Finances are so stressful, especially as unemployment benefits begin to dwindle and the bills keep piling on. So many people are having to find temporary jobs or create side hustles, or even change entire careers. Whatever situation you are in, don't be afraid to pick up a side hustle and be THAT person. Be THAT person that advertises their photography business, babysitting services, cupcakes, crafts or MLM company products (i.e. Monat, Rodan + Fields, etc.). We all need to make money and now more than ever we need to support each other, whether its "liking" someone's business page or ordering one of their products. Do what you can to support others, and do whatever you need to do to support your family.
7- Focus On Your Craft / Explore Your Passion - I love to sing, and during this time I have found solace in singing songs and creating music. I have shared this passion with my daughters and every single night we sing at least 2 to 3 different songs together at bedtime and it instantly calms us down after a long day. Whether or not you have an existing craft, or want to explore a new passion such as cooking or yoga or playing the guitar, do it. Doing something that you love just for the sake of enjoyment, is like giving medicine to your soul, and it manifests positive energy, lifts your overall vibration and attracts more positive things into your life. In fact, this week I had the pleasure of going back into the studio to record a song for Hispanic Heritage Month. Can't wait to show you how it came out :)
8 - Prioritize Your Self Care (Physical, Mental, Spiritual) - No matter how difficult your situation, make it a point to do something that improves your physical, mental and spiritual health on a regular basis. If you are still eligible for any kind of company benefits/perks, now during your furlough, is the perfect time to use them. Visit all of your doctors, make sure you are healthy, your prescriptions are still active. Take advantage of any free therapy sessions. Try to do something active like take walks around the block or go swimming. Read a book, pray, meditate, go to the beach. Give yourself the luxury of self-love, no matter how hectic life is, even something as simple as a hot shower, nap or stroll around the park, can make a big difference in your mood and ability to function during these chaotic times.
9 - Remove the Noise/Clutter From Your Life - Toxic friendships? Old clothes that don't fit? Junk in your garage? Purge and let go. Right now the capacity to function and find the strength to overcome adversity is hard enough as it is. Getting rid of the non-beneficial things in your life that may or may not be standing in your way, is a great way to feel a sense of levity and relief in your current situation. I cleaned out my disgusting mommy car, organized my closets, donated tons of baby clothes, and even just those "little" things made a "big" difference and helped release some of the weight off of my shoulders.
And finally, the most important one..
10 - Give Yourself Grace - Be kind and be patient with yourself - this is an emotional rollercoaster. It is normal to be full of motivation yet not have the energy to do anything at all at the same time. Our hearts, souls, minds and bodies are on hyperdrive right now. We are basically being put in a situation where we have to rely on our survival instincts to get by. DON'T LET THIS HINDER YOU. Take it one hour, one day, one week at a time. Once you start to gain control of these "little" things in your life, you will soon start to feel a gradual shift in your perspective on things.
Even if you just check off one thing from this list, it is something to celebrate. And remember, there is no timeline/deadline when it comes to taking care of yourself. This is a never-ending life lesson. If you have lost your job, your income, your livelihood, it is okay to be sad, to feel betrayed. But don't ever think for a second that you are in this situation because of anything that YOU did. This was completely OUTSIDE of your control. Instead, look around you and focus on the things that you CAN control. Trust that you will come out of this stronger, WE ALL WILL. Trust that everything will be okay, even if you are not okay right now.
YOU. GOT. THIS!