I would have never suspected that I would be in this type of predicament in my 20's. Back in January 2020, I was tabling at an anime convention in my hometown, having the time of my life. I sold some art, made some money, and was able to talk about it at my full time job the next day.
A couple weeks into 2020, my coworkers and I were getting a little concerned about this "coronavirus" thing. I worked at a wedding venue, somewhere where I see at least 200 people per event, so if this thing got bad, we would have to take some serious precautions to keep everyone safe.
And boy did it go bad.
March 16th, 2020, I got the call that my employment as a full-time events coordinator was terminated. The government was issuing shutdown mandates for venues, gyms, hotels, and lots of other places where people gather.
Over a year later, how am I doing?
After losing my job, I immediately got onto unemployment, like many other Americans did at the time. I sat at home, quarantined until further notice, while collecting an unemployment check every week, and talking with my family and friends online. At that time I was feeling burnt-out at my job. It was very demanding and stressful at times, and I had issues with certain clients and interns that I wasn't looking forward to working with that coming summer. That was something I didn't have to worry about anymore, so I spent a good chunk of spring 2020 resting. During my time at the wedding venue, I was considering leaving to pursue my art, but my art hadn't taken off like I wanted. However, now that I had all this free time, after I rested, I worked on a ton of art.
On a typical day during lockdown, I woke up around 9:30am, did a little workout, then worked on art and played games for the rest of the day. I made 2 paintings that sold on my Etsy shop, I created tons more stickers and prints which sort of revived my Etsy, which had been put aside for all of 2019. Now, in 2021, my Etsy is growing, and I have many more plans for it. I don't have a "lockdown gave me a successful small business" story or anything, but I definitely see a growth in my sales and my art, which I'm proud of.
Anytime I would go out, me and my boyfriend would wear masks, like we were supposed to. The only time I went out for the first couple months of lockdown were to get groceries. I had just moved into a new apartment in January, so all the furniture-buying I did was through Amazon using my unemployment money. It was lonely. Very lonely. Luckily I have my cat Sissy to keep me company, but talking with my friends over discord isn't the same as seeing them in person.
As 2020 came to a close and 2021 brought out vaccines for folks to take, I became more open to being in crowded places again. But because of how intense 2020 was, I was a little worried about being at restaurants, weddings, and other crowded places. Not only was I worried about contracting this virus, but I was also worried about police, shootings, anything bad that happened in the news, I was worried it would come to my city.
I remember back in June 2020 during the BLM protests that happened all over the country, my city was no exception to protests. I live in Columbus, OH, so I could hear the rioting, looting, and protesting outside my window. I asked my boyfriend to take me to his apartment, away from downtown, but it only made my anxiety worse, and I couldn't focus on anything. By the time I went back home, my city was covered in boarded up doors, broken glass, and grafitti everywhere. It was like nothing i had ever seen before.
In October 2020, I managed to get a part time gig at a small shop downtown, so I was making my own money again, thankfully. Along with that, my old job contacted me to start working every now and then at events. It sounds good on the surface, but trying to job hunt in this new world was very daunting. I remember trying to job hunt back in 2019; it took me months to get my full-time gig at the wedding venue. But this new job market is abysmal. I've talked about my job struggles in the past on this blog, but I remember feeling so devastated when I got a rejection letter from a promising job that I thought I had nailed the entire process of. It made me think my artwork, my expertise, was not as good as I thought, and I went through major imposter syndrome. I made it a priority to focus on my small art business while staying at my current job, but the money is running dry. I'm really looking forward to working full-time on my art business. It can't come fast enough.
When I see billionaires racing to space and living a life with no penalties, I feel terrible. When I'm approached by someone on the street just looking for a buck so they can get something to eat, it makes me feel like something is terribly wrong with this country. I hate getting political, but there really shouldn't be billionaires while people are struggling to survive.
One thought that keeps running through my mind is: is there even any more money and resources for people like me? Someone lower class, an artist, a service worker, a bi-racial woman, is there even a place for me to have a dream anymore? It's a depressing thought, and I try not to think about it too much. But it's invading my thoughts more and more as this year plays out. I have so many ideas to help my community, to build a co-working space, to share my art to the world, to spread some positivity and softness to the internet.
I'm feeling that very same feeling of uncertainty like I did at the start of the pandemic. I'm worried about my mental health, my friends and family's mental health, and the health of this country.
COVID-19 didn't take everything from me, but it certainly impacted my life in a major way. Others made it out much worse, and I feel blessed that none of my immediate family members or friends passed due to this virus. But COVID-19 changed the way I view the world, and how I view others.
Thanks for sitting through me typing out my thoughts, and I hope you take something from my story.
How has COVD-19 impacted your life? I'd like to know your stories if you have any.