Lockdown for life’s inbetweeners

To those who were unemployed before lockdown, and are now worried about their future, how are you coping?

Lockdown has caused a lot of problems, for a lot of societal groups, since it was implemented back in March. Those who have been furloughed, or who have suffered job losses as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, are central to the troubling narrative. It is good news that the government has extended its financial assistance until October, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. Everyday there’s a chance they could get that call saying they have been let go, like so many already. Until then, however, they have a reason to stay hopeful.  

But, what about those who did not have a full-time job before the pandemic started? What about those who were looking for a job but, since lockdown began, have been faced with nothing but rejection emails from companies saying, “This position has been put on hold until further notice”?

I am one of those people, and in between the devastating rising death toll and not my seeing my friends, it is the uncertainty of my future that keeps me up at night. I always knew that after university, it was going to take some time to get where I wanted to be, and for that, I was prepared. What I wasn’t prepared for was the monumental effect this virus was going to have on the world, that in the space of a few months, could make even the smallest progression seem wholly unobtainable. The worst thing about it is that other industries are still hiring, which only increases the unhealthy notion that I am being punished for wanting to work in the creative industry and not in fields like science or technology. Then again, I’m not so sure it’s even easy for them right now.

Searching for a job in this time feels like a pointless, unforgiving task, yet, if I didn’t, I would feel as if I hadn’t done enough to help further my career. I was talking to a friend the other day, who is in the same position. Being tied to the same industry means we can both wallow in each other’s lack of progression, but sharing the same unnerving experience as another is not enough to shake the feeling of being lost.

Being part of the creative industry is difficult at the best of times; creative jobs are highly sort after because there aren’t as many of them. The positions are coveted, and people don’t tend to leave them in a hurry; not necessarily because they’re happy but, because they know the opportunities are far and few between.

The current logic seems to be that so many people have been laid off that, when this is over, companies will be hiring left, right and centre to replace said people. But I’m not so sure. Surely they’ll be focusing on recouping their losses as cost-effectively as possible, and if that’s the case, I don’t think hiring new people is the best way to do that. Either way, nothing is certain, and the stress that can have on a person’s mind is genuinely concerning.

So, what are those of us in this position supposed to do to, not only keep ourselves sane but, to try and keep some modicum of sanity and professional self-worth? As a writer, I’ve decided to try and monetise on the skills I’ve acquired from my degrees and experience. I recently made a profile a Fiverr, a place where freelancers in all fields, can post gigs and get paid for them. I chose to do some proofreading/editing for people because it’s something I do regularly and I’m good at it. I only made the account two days ago and am yet to promote it on my social channels, so stay tuned for how that turns out. I’m planning on pitching stories to magazines; I am freelancer after all, and promoting myself is never something I’m comfortable with, but at this point, I’m willing to put any anxiety I have aside for the sake of some remnants of a future.

In an article by Vogue, they suggest networking and fine-tuning your portfolio. Although this doesn’t help with any financial struggle we may be facing, it keeps us prepared and ready to spring into action if, God willing, things begin to turn around. If you’re a writer like me, I’m sure you have projects, novels, ideas that you started that you haven’t yet finished because life got in the way. Well, there is no chance of that being an issue for the next two months at the least so there couldn’t be a better time to revisit those passion projects and turn them into something more.

When I started writing this, I was hoping it would be a little more optimistic and more informative about ways to survive during this situation. Then again, I realised it might just be comforting to know that you aren’t the only one going through this. In these dark times finding comfort in anything is not to be taken for granted. If anyone reading this has any advice or ideas, feel free to reach out on Instagram @sincerely_saskia or Twitter @sincerely_sas, I’d love to hear from you.

Until then, just remember, we’re not the ones to blame for this backwards economy that sees none of us able to afford our own home before the age of 40. That doesn’t mean that we’re powerless though. We’re lucky to be in a generation that allows us to do what we love, and as long as we remember why we started doing in this in the first place and don’t lose our passion for it, then we only have everything to gain.

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