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  • Writer's pictureNatalie Johnson

Career Moves

One of the many ‘Share or 50 of your Facebook friends will die!’ posts I’ve seen lately has been an extensive list of your previous jobs. Mine would read something like this; Waitress, Childminder, Barmaid, Cleaner, Prop Maker, Shop Assistant, Personal Shopper, Theatre Designer. Some, albeit, lasted significantly longer than others. That last one though had been the goal for some time and luckily over the past couple of years I was managing it without another income. But then like many other self employed workers, I recently found myself with cancelled contracts and without that job. Did Coronavirus just sack me?

The theatre industry is facing a very tough time ahead, which many other more eloquent and knowledgeable people have written about. I can’t offer a suggestion or survival plan because I don’t know enough about the intricacies of running a theatre. What I do know is that for the time being there are no live performances, no characters to need costumes and no stages to need sets. So where does that leave me and all the other theatre practitioners, and those who work in entertainment and nightlife, and even those who work in tourism and the travel industry? I guess we could look back at our previous jaunts and wonder if any of those are worth revisiting…

I was not a good waitress. My mind wanders. When I’m given important information my brain likes to play ‘Hahaha Natalie Don’t Listen’. I still have to maintain a strong eye contact to hear someone’s name as they introduce themselves. So when 15 men ordered food and drinks at the same time, my mind would turn to simpler things, like the lyrics to forgotten songs. Country roads, take me home, to the place, I belong… And I’d stare blankly back at the customer waiting for me to write down their order. So this wouldn’t work.

What Can I Get For You?

I was, however, a great cleaner. I cleaned hostel rooms in Australia and in return I received free accommodation. I could change a bed faster than Country Roads could get you up dancing. However these beds weren’t those of pleasant families on a summer holiday, or business people on a one night stay. These were the dirty sheets of backpackers, and I don’t have the word count or willpower to go into the monsters I found under their beds. There were however a few perks to this job, mainly the beautiful weather and beautiful beaches I spent the rest of my time basking in. So though it was fun while it lasted, I’m not sure I could go back to cleaning backpacker hostels in rainy England. The pay off just isn’t worth it.

And then there was retail. And anyone who has done their stint will surely know why I can’t make this my new career. Those who do are the real heroes. I’m just not strong enough.

So what next? It’s a horrible feeling to have to consider not doing the job you love, especially in a generation that’s been told we can do whatever we want to do and be whoever we want to be. We have been told constantly to follow our dreams and be the best possible version of ourselves. So facing a question like this now, it feels like I have to come up with a new dream. For now I’m going to hope that soon enough theatres will return and this nightmare will come to an end before I have to make that decision. Although a 5 year old me just wanted to be the lady on the beach who you pay to braid your hair … maybe I should just give that a go.

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