COVID has put a lot of people’s lives on pause. It stood in the way of people’s plans and ambitions, including mine. My name is Ben Kelly, and I graduated from Humber College for Film and Media Production in 2019. I graduated thinking I had the whole world ahead of me, and while getting a career in my field would be tough, it would eventually happen. I applied for job after job, eventually finding a short-term contract at the Toronto International Film Festival (my dream job spot), which lasted until January 2020. I received praise for my work and was offered another contract to start in June of that year. I, of course, accepted. Then COVID-19 happened.
Everything began shutting down including my retail job, which I had been working since 2016, and suddenly I was laid off. Getting to know me, I’m someone who likes to work and keep busy. On my days off I get antsy and bored from not having anything to do. I was one of the lucky ones in April 2020, as my retail job reopens for curbside and online orders. Suddenly I was working more than ever and making more money than I was before, and the impossible was true: I was benefitting from the COVID-19 situation. Before I’d be lucky to get 20 hours a week, and suddenly I was working 44 hours a week. During this time, I continued to apply for jobs, but the pickings were slim.
The start of summer began, and my TIFF job was cancelled due to movie theatres not being allowed open and there would be a lack of work for me to do. I was crushed, but I knew I was surviving and doing well compared to others out there. I continued to apply and apply with an occasional Zoom interview that would go nowhere. I was starting to feel in a rut. I was a year out of graduating and I was still in retail, a place I didn’t want to be. COVID-19 had put my life completely on pause and I was just trying to make it to the other side without going insane.
December 2020 begins, and Toronto is announced to be going on complete lockdown again after Christmas. At first, I was fine with it, I had been overworked for months working 5-6 days a week, and I was excited to be seeing my parents in Ottawa. I went back home as the lockdown began, and suddenly I was in the same funk I was before not being able to work. This time was different as I began to reflect on my life and what I wanted. I wanted to leave my retail job in 2021, despite COVID. I began to focus on applying to new jobs until someone would see me and the skills I have. I even decided to enroll in this social media program through Algonquin to boost my skills. The stars all aligned when I got hired for a new job as an Office Coordinator for a commercial production company once the lockdown was over. My life was finally moving forward, and I was going to work again, but in a field that I cared about.
I always view my life in chunks that are separated by major life incidents. These major life incidents push me to new world views and situations. In my mind, I see the end of the lockdown and the new career as the next major life incident. I’m less stressed about COVID with the rollout of vaccines, slowly but surely going, I’m travelling and working downtown (something I’ve always wanted to do), and I’m looking at apartments to live with my significant other. The direction life is going in is completely different from what it was a year ago.
Being enrolled in this social media program has forced me to strategize my life, in the same way, I would apply to social media. In the Introduction to Social Media course, I learned that your personal brand is what you sell to the world. What do people see you as, and what do they expect of you? I reflect on my life and I have always complete strategies to get what I want, but since finishing college, my strategizing has stopped. I wish I could blame COVID, but I’ve been drifting through life, waiting for something new to start. This new career path is my new start, but I refuse to just drift my way through it. I need to engage and learn, and take the skills that I learn in this course about social media strategy and apply them to every aspect of my life. No more drifting, anymore.
How has COVID-19 stopped you? Has it put your life on pause? Have you ever felt yourself in a rut, and what strategy did you do to escape it? Let me know in the comments down below.