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  • Writer's pictureAutumn Barker

The COVID-19 Diaries: Finding Silver Linings in the Storm Clouds

Contributed by Alana Brenner (AKA Alan)

My name is Alana, but Autumn calls me Alan. I’m not a natural writer like Autumn, so bear with me here, but if Quarantine isn’t the time to try new things when is?

A little bit of background:

COVID-19 has had quite a roller coaster effect on me, to say the least. I just moved from Orlando to Raleigh-Durham in North Carolina a few months ago. I was finally getting settled into my new life out there; I was a month into my first big girl apartment all by myself and two months into my new job with a company I really loved. I was even beginning to test the water with apps to meet people like BumbleBFF and MeetUp. Then the coronavirus hit like a ton of bricks.

The build-up:

My company is in the tradeshow industry, it was seriously impacted by COVID-19. It started like a rainstorm in Florida. On one side of the road, it was pouring; shows were canceling left and right. The other side of the road was bright and sunny; people were holding on hope and planning ahead as far ahead as possible in all the uncertainty. For safety purposes, my company moved us to work remotely. Our leadership was understanding, they wanted us to think ahead, but ultimately knew we were not going to have forty hours worth of work each week.

Socially, I was cut off at the knees. Sure, I knew a handful of people in the area now, but none well enough to quarantine for an unknown length of time together. I found myself alone in my new apartment. I couldn’t take it, so I made the trek back home to Florida for some company.

And then the hit came:

My company was barely making any money as group gatherings were now banned until further notice, meaning all the shows we were responsible for the next few months were canceled. I got that dreaded text from my leadership asking to talk; they had to let me go. I'd known this was coming since we went remote but it still felt unfair.

I had worked for years to get out of Orlando, and even harder once I was in North Carolina to find a job. I'd never felt so proud of myself for doing this huge thing, getting out of my Orlando comfort zone. But it was all slipping through my fingers because of something so far out of my control.

Desperate to maintain a positive outlook, I immediately applied to unemployment (what a mess). I started applying for jobs again, reaching out to recruiters, anything to hopefully jump right back into work.

But wait, is there a silver lining?

My sister is home thanks to a rotation in her grad school program. Her program has had its own complications and she’s not sure if her upcoming rotations and graduation will remain on schedule.

We keep talking about finding the silver linings in both of our situations. Hers feels more simple; she’ll still graduate, maybe just on a different timeline than expected. Mine feels harder for so many reasons: the idea of competing with most of America for a job is terrifying, I don't know if I’ll be able to continue to afford this new apartment of mine, etc.

And then, my company reached back out.

They'd identified a need in the business for a project coordinator on the creative services side. That side of the business has not been impacted by the virus and they loved my attitude and work ethic in my other role, so they felt it was the obvious choice to move me over. This new role is actually more suited to my work background and more aligned with what I want to do long term, so the offer was simultaneously exciting and surreal.

What I’m choosing to take away this lesson:

I know this virus is serious and I am not minimizing the damage it is leaving in its wake. I also recognize not everyone will share the same experience, but for me, there are a few positive lessons I’ve learned during this mess.

First, you can’t beat a can-do attitude. My company’s leadership team knew I might not know everything off the bat, but based on the skills and work ethic I'd shown previously, they knew I am willing to work hard to achieve the end goal.

I've also learned sometimes the universe knows what it is doing. Like I said before, this position fits me better than the previous one. While it wasn’t the route I would’ve chosen, I wound up better off for it. It’s important to focus on moving forward and remaining positive. Truly, there is a silver lining in every rain cloud, we just have to find it.

Lastly, more than anything, I hope everyone is staying safe out there! Let’s all stay at home for now so we can celebrate again with our loved ones soon!

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