anxiety, Covid-19, luck, mental health, opinion, work

“What now?”- One Year On

One year ago, today we put on our last production of OVO.
The last time I went a year without putting on a show, I was in elementary school. 12 years of transition from “afterschool extracurricular” to a career with passion. Few people can be so lucky.

One year ago, today we were laid off from our jobs. Entertainment collapsed in literal minutes and the idea of touring shows now is laughable.

“What now?”

When I asked that question last year, I thought in a month or so we would be back at it… how wrong I was. Since then, I have had 4 jobs (and counting) several new hobbies, and a lot of soul searching.

Many people don’t understand that Covid decimated the lives of some and continues to do so today. Unable to see beyond their shift from office work to working from home and their relatively unscathed lifestyles many people are able to just get on with things. Wait out the storm, still working and still (generally) living similar lives to the ones pre-Covid.

“Get on with it.” “This may be our new normal.” “We all have to find new passions.”

Spoken by those whose education, career, livelihood, experience, time, and lifestyles weren’t torn from them unapologetically. We do have to recognize that there is Covid-privilege and varying degrees of it.

I ask again, what now?

I sacrificed a lot to build a viable career for myself… do I do that again? Do I work part-time, whatever I can get until I can have my life back? Will I ever get it back?
Do I establish roots, which I have done my best to avoid? IF I get something full-time and start a new career, do I abandon the idea of entertainment all-together? Should I just be proud and accept my success and move on?

What now?

I couldn’t tell you.
There is always some sort of risk when you go into the arts, a lot of nay-sayers and judgement mixed with a highly competitive job market. My partner and I were incredibly lucky that our hard work and sacrifices paid off in the form of a consistent and sustainable entertainment career.
Now, the risks are much, much higher.

Knowing what we know now, that entertainment is a split second from disappearing for long periods of time, without government support, without acknowledgement, and without any protections, it is a big ask to go back.
We have clung onto whatever it was we could, which wasn’t much. A part-time job (or 3), if you are lucky you could couch surf or move into your childhood bedroom, any sort of benefit that we possibly qualify for…there hasn’t been a lot for us to go on.

So, do I leave something (ANYTHING), that has saved me? Paid the bills, kept me treading water through open and closed lockdowns, potential benefits, vacation days, maybe even a salary knowing that the above can happen again, without warning?
Is the passion enough? Is it worth it?

I have made my fair share of risky decisions and leaps of faith, I ultimately chalk my success up to it. So far (aside from Covid), I have always landed on my feet. My gut was right. This is no longer about gut instinct, but calculated risk.

We are able to blame the pandemic for the collapse of our industry and careers because it was the unknown. Nobody saw it coming or could have predicted what it would do to us- the “failure” that we feel is not a fault of our own, we are innocent, ongoing victims in the pandemic.

However, if I choose to go back with the knowledge and experience of this fall, the failure is mine. I know the risk, s can take the jump anyway, if I fall, I fall because I chose to. I decided that the risk was worth it.

There is trauma with what happened to us. We have suffered genuine loss and haven’t been given any support to grieve.
15 minutes before we opened doors we were told it was going to be our last show and that we were going home. If Cirque du Soleil goes down, I thought, nobody stands a chance. I was right- but I don’t want to be. Do I put everything on the line again to get that same talk, a flight home, and another blank page to be in the same position a year on?
The blind-side hasn’t worn off, and this wasn’t just to me and my show.

It is an entire, global industry in mourning together.

What now?

I wish I knew.

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear”
-C.S. Lewis

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