6 WAYS TO EXORCISE PROFESSIONAL AND PERSONAL DEMONS.ON THE ROAD. IN THE TIME OF COVID.
You’ve just gotten the call to work outside the home but you’re worried about staying healthy? If so, how is your anxiety making it difficult to progress past a certain level in your career?
The world seems like a very scary place right now; curbside pickups and masks are some of the only antidotes we have in this pandemic. One wrong move could land us in the hospital, or worse.
Here are 6 steps for combating health and career anxieties during this time. It’s true! You can work in public and stay healthy while managing the whims of Satan’s children…er, I mean fellow humans.
CENTER YOURSELF, CHILD!
During the pandemic, held down a job at a dealership and as a TV producer in Portland. And in order to survive, I had to get grounded. For me, that meant deep breathing, writing and saying my affirmations out loud and working towards the life I wanted.
KNOW YOUR BOUNDARIES AND DON’T APOLOGIZE FOR THEM
I had no problems asking people to put on their mask or backing that azz all the way up when people approached me too closely. This was especially true at the dealership, which was inhabited by clueless car salesmen bitching about not being able to grab a margarita. Sir. We’re in a pandemic. Your margarita can wait.
I live with people who were clearly raised by wolves, so I wipe down anything I will come into contact with before using the kitchen and bathroom. Is it an extra step I’d rather do without? Sure, but this ritual has kept me free from illness. When I’m cleaning, I imagine living in my own clean, safe space where I am the only inhabitant. I recommend you develop a cleaning ritual that works for you, if you’re concerned about staying safe. Truth be told, we should always be this clean, but like a lot of things related to the relentless pursuit of capitalism, it falls by the wayside.
Now that you’ve decided to start working around people, whether it’s local or out-of-state, you have to acknowledge the anxieties you have about getting back into the world. For me, it having to deal with asserting my boundaries. I recently moved into a home where certain people were too friendly for my tastes, barging into the kitchen where I was mid-use instead of waiting until I was done. As a fellow rent payer, the housemates should be able to access to the kitchen, but everyone has to respect each other’s boundaries. I am not social with people I don’t know, so seeing some stranger in the kitchen the same time as me when they could have easily waited a few more minutes annoys me. It’s bad enough I have to live with these people; I don’t want to have to see them too.
Fed up with the impositions, I locked at the kitchen door as a deterrent to him just barging in whenever he felt like it. Looking back, I don’t regret anything I’ve done, but I would have spoken up and told him that I need personal space when I cook. I endured a lot of abuse as a kid and have a hard time asserting my needs sometimes. This entire quarantine situation has caused me to realize that I need to speak up and that my needs are important, too.
Once I realized where I needed to do the most work, it was easier for me to move forward with work. Away from the walking germ machines at the dealership, I embraced the next adventure in my producing career and prepared to get on a plane to Portland.
PACK W INTENTION
This was my first long-term out-of-state job and I had no idea what to pack. In fact, I packed, unpacked and repacked a couple of times before I could get it right.
· I brought two pieces of luggage – one for my clothes and one for my toiletries. Carry-on was just my backpack
· Here’s what I would do differently on my next go ‘round:
· Bring at least 20 t-shirts. I’m not even joking. I worked 18 hours a day 7-days a week and did not even want to THINK about setting my laundry out for fluff and fold service.
· Pack every pair of socks and underwear you have. It should be ridiculous the amount you bring because nothing will screw up your morning more than having to go commando because you didn’t do laundry on time.
· Bring at least 5 bras – at least two sports bras because although it was nearly impossible to work out towards the end, I did manage to get workouts every other day during the first couple weeks.
· Bring shower flip flops, running shoes, nice or trendy set shoes [2 pair].
· If you’re going to be shooting anywhere near fall or winter, pack your heaviest coat, a raincoat, hats gloves and a scarf and boots sans holes so water doesn’t get in. You don’t want to get the coughs mid-shoot.
· Toiletries – save your luggage space for your clothes. Only pack enough toiletries to last you the first two weeks. After that, you can order what you need online.
· 3-4-quart sized bags full of your toiletries should be enough for at least the first two weeks.
· I have painful periods, so I made sure to pack plenty of Tylenols, heating pads and teas to help me prep for my period, so I wouldn’t have to miss work. I never want to miss work, so I take the necessary steps to care for my womb, so I am not doubled over in severe pain.
· Keep rubbing alcohol on deck. In fact, order some from amazon ahead of your arrival at your production hotel, so you have your cleaning supplies on deck. I got 4 32-ounce bottles of rubbing alcohol and it lasted me the 4 weeks I was in Portland.
· I brought an empty spray bottle and filled it with rubbing alcohol to spray the bottom of my shoes, as hand sanitizer, and to spray down any surface. Rubbing alcohol is a catch all and a life saver during these times. Plus, I didn’t have to worry about bleaching my clothes by accident.
· Pack anti-diarea pills and melatonin or Tylenol PM. I have the worst time sleeping, especially when I’m on the road. And I always have upset stomach due to stress and being in a new city. Nothing will ruin your good mood like being tired all the time with an upset stomach.
HOW TO FEED YOURSELF WITH NO MICROWAVE AND ONLY A MINI-FRIDGE
· Production was nice enough to give us mini fridges, which was a HUGE help because I did not want to keep spending money on takeout.
· Here’s what sucks: Not having a microwave in the room and not being able to use anyone else’s because of Covid.
· Order as much cold-friendly food as you can in one order n because fees and tips add up.
· For me, buying fruit, chopped veggies, sandwiches, pizzas, salads, soups and cold noodle dishes that keep well without a microwave was the way to go
HAVE A PLAN FOR YOUR CAREER
At this point in my career, the worst thing I could do is take a job “just for the paycheck,” I want to get promoted and grow as a producer. That means I couldn’t just do the minimum, put my head down and work. I needed to tell people about my short and long-term goals. People can’t recommend you for opportunities if they don’t know what you’re looking for.
I knew going in that I wanted to set myself up to be promoted to producer. I observed what the producers a level or more above me were doing, I asked questions and did whatever I could to take work off their plate while making sure I took care of my duties. I asked for feedback and fought hard not to let my ego take over if I heard something I didn’t like.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO SHOW PEOPLE WHO YOU ARE
Look, I am a hardcore introvert who doesn’t like to appear vulnerable to anybody. I am very professional on set, but not great at small talk, which feels hollow and superficial for me. What I’m learning is small talk is the annoying entry way to where people can start to form some kind of connection with you. If people don’t know me, it makes our working relationship less smooth. If I’m not comfortable with the people around me and my efforts to move up are stalled.
Working in production is brutal and producers at every level are overworked and under hugged. I was definitely one of those producers. I am pretty hard on myself and don’t always have the best coping mechanisms when It comes to stress, so I keep things bottled up.
People could tell when something was off with me, and when they’d ask, I was hesitant to open up. That just made my stress worse. In the future, I can let people know what’s going with me without the sordid details. I have survived more than my fair share of demons in this industry, but everyone is not evil. That statement is easy to say, but hard to believe. As a survivor of multiple instances of trauma, it takes me a while to let my guard down. But keeping my guard up is keeping other people from getting to know me and that’s affecting my career prospects. I didn’t endure everything I have endured just to stop by career right now.
A piece of advice: Refrain from bad mouthing anyone. Sometimes, it’s necessary to vent, but focus on how you feel and what you’d like to see change.
Be selective with who you tell your business to. Everyone isn’t trying to be a shoulder to lean on, some people are just messy and are looking to spread drama. When I’m at work, my main concern is doing what I have to do to ascend, not be at the center of some drama.
Nobody is digging ditches here, and I get paid decent money to connect with people and make them larger than life via story. I have to remind myself to take deep, mindful breaths regularly. It’s hard to stay grounded when all I can do is think about how much better I could be in the moment. A clear mind means better producing which means more opportunities for myself without any extra effort. That’s the place I’m trying to get to…just being me and not feeling bad for it.