Monday, March 22, 2021

How to overcome to the “Pandemic Panic” (Tips and Tricks I’ve learned in the Educational Theatre Program at CCNY)

By Charlotte Exton
To think that it has been a year since the coronavirus pandemic officially started is a wild thought. Our lives have changed, we’ve adapted to working and living in different ways than we’re used to. Almost a year ago, I thought I had come to terms with the situation we were in, processing the tragedy and anxiety that the pandemic causes. However, during my Capstone class this semester, I found out quite surprisingly that I, in fact, have a lot of unprocessed trauma due to the pandemic. It’s scary enough to be graduating from graduate school, diving into a new field of work, but you add a global pandemic into the mix and things get a bit dicey. 

With all of that said, after talking to my professor and revealing to her my feelings of anxiety, fear, and uncertainty, I realized that because of my experience in the Educational Theatre program, I am more prepared than I have ever been. And I want to share that knowledge to anyone who may need it. Whether you are also graduating from a graduate program, you’re transitioning into a new career, or you’re just feeling the same “Pandemic Panic”, I hope these tips that I’ve gained during my three years in the program will give you the same amount of confidence and support that it’s given me.

7 Steps to Overcome the Pandemic Panic: 
It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and forget the most basic and important principle: breathe. When you arefeeling like you can’t control a situation or are overwhelmed, remember to take a breath or a few. 
Finding your network is extremely valuable and makes a difference when it comes to job opportunities. Try and connect with others who are in your field or the field you want to be in. More often than not, people are willing to talk about their own journey and share advice to help your own. And most importantly, always stay connected with those folks. You never know when that one person you had coffee with will say to their boss, “Hey, I know someone who would be a great fit here!”. The pandemic has created a lot of uncertainty regarding jobs and careers, so if you have some time, use it to connect and grow your network.
We all love that feeling of being offered an opportunity or job. We are wanted! We’ve been accepted! How nice that feels. But sometimes every opportunity that approaches us is not always the right one. If you have a gut feeling that something doesn’t feel right, chances are that means that it isn’t. If you need a second or third opinion, reach out to that network you created (see what I did there?) and ask their opinion. Ultimately, the decision is always yours, but it can be good to have an extra set of eyeballs on a situation. Do what’s best for you at the time, always.
As a perfectionist, and someone who’s worst enemy is always myself, the word “mistake” is terrifying. And to think that mistakes can be a good thing…what are you talking about? But in actuality, mistakes can be your best friends at the right moment. No matter how much we want to deny it, we will make mistakes. But these mistakes are what help us grow into better professionals and human beings. The real test is how you deal with those mistakes. Sometimes the only way to discover if something works is to try it out and see what happens. If it fails, you learned something and then you can apply that to your future and grow from it. Life is a learning process, and we should always be constantly learning.
Life will throw curveballs at you. Like, I don’t know…a global pandemic? There will always be uncertainty, ups and downs, and tons of hills to climb. You have to make sure you have a support system around you. This group of people can be family, friends, colleagues, mentors, or professors. This group can be as big or as small as you need it to be. But you must have it. Not only is it great to have people in your corner for the hard times, but you also want people there for you to celebrate your successes! It’s hard enough navigating the professional world, don’t do it alone.
This is a big one – one of the most important. We walk through life constantly trying to please everyone. We want to be accepted that we sometimes forget a key person in the scenario – ourselves. You must advocate for yourself and know your worth. As someone who recently tried this, I can tell you from personal experience, it feels really, really good! It’s important to stand up for yourself and advocate for the things you need in a professional and respectful way. And advocating does not always have to be for the really big things like raises or promotions. You can advocate for anything that’s important to you: reimbursement for materials you purchased for a job, travel stipend, or to have a sit-down meeting with your supervisor. And I know, it sounds really scary, and it can be. But once you’ve done it, you will feel so good about yourself, no matter the outcome. And despite what we think, no one will judge you for advocating for what you need. Take the chance, who knows what will happen?
Throughout the Educational Theatre program, we are always told to find the joy in whatever situation we’re in. Joy can be really big (a promotion, a compliment from a colleague or student) or it can be really small (beautiful weather outside, a smile from a stranger, or a great night’s sleep). When we find the joy in situations, we’re reminded why we do what we do. And when we feel joy, we can spread that feeling to our coworkers, students, friends, and family. Joyfulness is contagious, and I think we can all agree that we need a little bit more joy right now.
1. Take a breath
2. Network, Network, Network
3. Trust your instincts
4. Make mistakes, learn, grow
5. Have a support system
6. Advocate for yourself
7. Find the joy

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