Making a New Normal

Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

After a couple weeks of alternating between anxiety and numbness from the ongoing coronavirus crisis, I’ve reached the point of resignation…or maybe acceptance is a better word for it. I could waste a lot of energy mourning what’s not available to me or I can look at reality as it is and figure out what I can do with the resources available to me. Obviously I’ve reached the latter state, and I’m encouraging you to do so, too.

Is This the “New Normal?”

I cannot say how long this medical crisis will go on. As one data point, the State of Florida isn’t “scheduled” to reach its peak number of deaths until April 19. The stay-at-home orders would, presumably, last for another month or so after that, but we don’t know for certain yet because we’re dealing with an unknown virus. Some states are not sticking to the stay-at-home guidelines as directed, which will prolong the problem there and elsewhere if those folks travel. There also could be the problem of a repeat breakout if people break out of their isolation too soon.

Lots of “if” statements there. The bottom line is: we don’t know. So, again, you can curse the lack of the life you’re used to or try to act as if this IS the new normal. That gives you a little more freedom to get creative, as a lot of people are being forced to do.

Go Where There is Work

You might be unemployed, temporarily furloughed, or some vague state in between. If the odds of going back to your previous job “when all this is over” seems unlikely, it’s time to look for other work. While I’m currently employed by my customers, I’m quite well aware that that could change on a dime, at which case I end up looking for work like millions of others.

If you’re of the school of thought that there are some jobs you’re too good for, it’s time to get over that mindset, especially if you have to eat. Given that my rather lengthy career started in merchandise, I am likely to head to Amazon or some other retailer the government considers “essential.” Another option is the government itself. While a lot of people are working from home, the government isn’t shutting down. Related to the government are its primary contractors. Or just seek out a writing editing job somewhere else. A quick search on reveals jobs posted within the last couple days, which is to say in the midst of the crisis. So despite what you might have heard, people are hiring. If anything, the COVID-19 crisis is forcing companies to write new policies or rewrite existing leave and environmental health policies to address the new realities.

You can also leverage your network. Odds are that you know other writers or editors–they might be working or know people who have work that needs doing.

What if there are no writing jobs? Then, again, I’ll share my approach: take something that keeps you busy and will pay bills. I might end up going full circle and working a cash register. And yes, I realize that’s not an ideal situation. Will it actually cover my current bills/lifestyle? I don’t know.

Nothing available in your area? Odds are, there’s a relief agency helping distribute food to people in need. Volunteers get fed, too, but last. Then negotiate with your bank or landlord about the mortgage/rent. You are not the only one in this position, and the odds of the lender finding someone else to fill your place are slim.

“Easy for You to Say”

Who am I to offer advice when I’m currently employed? A guy who plans to follow the exact plan I just articulated above. You might be employed as well. Do you have a plan if you suddenly find that you aren’t? If not, you might want to consider formulating one. If the “new normal” is teaching us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected. Better to make your own new normal than to have it decided for you.

About Bart Leahy

Freelance Technical Writer, Science Cheerleader Event & Membership Director, and an all-around nice guy. Here to help.
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