Planning

A Quarantined Sabbatical

Well, I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say: it’s been a week.

It goes without saying that this coronavirus has turned the world upside-down. People ordered to work from home. Public gatherings cancelled — which in my theater world means play after play (including my own) cancelled or postponed. The loss of work for many of my friends who rely on performing gigs or who are in the service industry. People encouraged to limit in-person contact with others. Ridiculous hoarding of toilet paper!

In the short term, not much has changed in my own life. I already wasn’t working. And taking care of Artie, a lot of my time was already spent at home. Now, with Ryan working from home, I just have more company. Though I did lose my one big activity that gave me a break from my mommy duties — theater.

As for my sabbatical? Well, not much has changed in the immediate future. As I’ve written about in my last few blogs, my sabbatical has already been in flux in the wake of becoming a mother. It became clear that I would likely need to go back to work at some point this year. But I’ve been debating which path I’d follow upon my return to the workforce.

A couple weeks ago, I did some exploring on The Mom Project to see what opportunities were open in my previous industry; and there were a few roles that interested me. However, I’ve also been thinking about some of the paths I set out to explore in this sabbatical and if I should pursue those instead of returning to my old field of work. Ultimately, I decided that there was one area — commercial acting — that I wanted to explore before going back to a typical 9-5 job. I committed to pursuing paid video and commercial work for the next few months.

And it’s a good thing I didn’t decide to immediately go back to a marketing job or some other office job. With most companies mandating remote work and with the economy being so shaky, it’s almost certain that there is a hiring freeze for most of the roles I saw on The Mom Project. I just can’t imagine a company being willing to hire someone at this time and trust the new employee to work from home.

However, it may be longer than we expect before things go back to normal. I had given myself a deadline of mid-June to explore commercial work before applying for office jobs. But now, it doesn’t seem certain that things will have changed by then. What if I get to the point when I’m ready to pursue office jobs but companies still have a freeze on hiring?

These are the anxious thoughts that have been plaguing me lately. But there is really nothing I can do about it. So, it’s time for me to outline the things I do have control over.

Knowing that for the coming weeks (or months), we are all going to be encouraged to stay inside and limit contact with others, I wanted to brainstorm sabbatical-related projects that I could take on:

  • Practice audio editing (per last week’s blog!)
  • Set up my acting website
  • Test out new forms of content creation like videos or new podcasts
  • Write more scripts and/or stories
  • Get more social media management practice through the BYOM podcast channels
  • Test out remote recording for the podcast 
  • Try live-streaming
  • Revisit web development

I have a feeling this whole ordeal is going to change the landscape of employment in the future, where more and more employers are going to look for remote employees (just think of the overhead they’ll save!). So, I’ve really been focused on opportunities and other types of work that can be done remotely. 

It’s interesting that the majority of the ideas I brainstormed centered around content creation. It seems to be a perfect intersection of a career path that I’m drawn to and an industry that lends itself well to remote work.

And this is the perfect time to focus on creation. A few articles have been circulating among my theater network about how Shakespeare wrote some of his strongest plays during outbreaks of the plague. It will be interesting to see the amazing creativity that blossoms out of this period of social distancing and quarantine.

It’s a time of uncertainty, and it’s impossible to make long-term plans. All I can do is wake up each morning and ask myself: “What can I create? What can I explore? How can I grow today?”

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