When I was a lot younger, I made myself a promise to explore every kind of career I found interesting. Much to my father’s dismay, I never thought twice about transitioning from one job to another. Some might have called me compulsive and maybe I was a little my senior year when I skipped out fall semester to work in Chicago as a Dialysis Tech. It was between that or joining a band so, you know, it could have been worse, but with only a handful of hours left, my wise father forced me back to campus so I would graduate on time. I did, and I never regretted giving that job a try even tho it meant missing Illinois play in a rare Rose Bowl game that year.
Ever since college the two sides of my brain have been battling it out. I graduated in Humanities with a Concentration in Cinema Studies. I know, my poor dad… but I was so fascinated with medicine I ended up with a minor in Biology. For a couple years I followed my right brain and worked in a hospital blood gas lab thinking it would get me one step closer to med school. I loved the people, the work and learning about all the careers I could follow in medicine without having to pay for med school, but after two years, my left brain made a comeback.
I decided to put that college diploma to work and pursue something related to “Cinema” and with no connections, I started freelancing in the film business. I worked regularly at a Chicago production house that specialized in making television commercials. It wasn’t Hollywood but again, it was an amazing experience. Like every newbie to the business, I started out as a P.A. For those of you who don’t know, it’s like being an intern. You do a lot of grunt work, but if you last long enough, you can work your way up. Eventually I got work as a Stylist, then a Set Decorator and by the end of my run, a Make-up Artist. After 8 years of shooting countless Piggly Wiggly ads, my hopes of becoming the next Kathryn Bigelow began to fade.
While my summers were spent on film sets, my winters were spent in the rafters of department stores. I worked as a Visual Merchandiser at stores like Bloomingdale’s and Neiman Marcus. It wasn’t as creative as I wanted it to be and I felt more like an elf than an artist. We worked at night when the store was closed and when it opened, another department would be fully decorated for the holidays. I met some of the most creative people in my life, but I think I was permanently damaged from hanging millions of ornaments and thousands of yards of garland. To this day, I can’t stand decorating for Christmas.
After freelancing for so many years, my right brain made a comeback and I moved on to working in the corporate world of fine jewelry as a Watch Rep. I’m not gonna lie. It was kind of nice to get a regular paycheck; paid insurance and at one point a company car… does anyone get a company car anymore?
My dad was thrilled. He always said I was a natural at sales and for ten years, I actually enjoyed what I did. He was right, I was great at my job. The independent side of me loved not having to be in the same place every day and I had the freedom to manage my own time. I made my company a lot of money and I earned a good living, but after ten years, my left brain began to itch again.
Inspired by having a baby, I designed the first nursing tank top for new moms… yup, that was ME! With little thought about what I was doing, I walked into Nordstrom’s Midwest Buying office to show it to them. They issued a P.O. on the spot and with no formal design training or experience I was suddenly the Owner and Designer of my own apparel line. Trust me, the job isn’t as cut and dry as it sounds. I tell people that instead of paying for grad school, I got my MBA on the job. It probably would have been less expensive had I taken the school route, but I’m one of those who learns by doing.
I entered every new job with an open mind and the desire to learn. Yeah, I know I jumped from career to career on my terms, but I believe most of us have the ability to pivot if we really want to.
Covid-19 has done more than disrupted our lives, it’s destroyed our livelihoods. So many of us, including ME are worried about our future. This is a scary time for all of us, but remember challenges bring growth. Instead of crawling back to bed, think about this…
Isolation and quarantines have created some of the most remarkable discoveries in history. Isaac Newton discovered gravity in 1665 during the Bubonic plague. Shakespeare wrote King Lear in quarantine and Frida Kahlo painted her first self portrait while recovering from a wicked bus crash.
Sadness and fear are some of the best motivators for epic writing and creativity. According to Modupe Akinola, a professor at Columbia Business School, “…Biological vulnerability and negative emotions lead to greater artistic creativity.” This same article in Wired demonstrates that “States of sadness make us more attentive and detail oriented” and more creative.
Now more than ever, we have lots to work with.
Instead of letting fear overwhelm us, tap into it to find your next gig.
I like to think of it as a second chance to reinvent ourselves.
I’m not a therapist, professor or doctor… well, not in real life anyway… but I’ve been here before and the only way to get from waiting tables to becoming a Medical Tech or the next big Cat Video Producer on YouTube is to take the first step.
Stop freaking out and start to make some progress towards your next gig:
5 Tips To Pivot In A Pandemic
- Breathe…from your diaphragm. We hear this all the time but until we calm down our nervous system, it’s impossible to know if we’re acting rationally or not. Deep diaphragmatic breathing is the best way to get control of our emotions before making any big decisions. Take a series of deep breaths so your stomach fills with air. Inhale slowly to the count of four, hold and exhale slowly to the count of six collapsing your stomach as you slowly breathe out. Repeat three to five times or until you’re feeling clear and calm.
- Go old school so you can literally visualize your options by making two columns on a sheet of paper. Make the left column your job wish list. Put anything in it from Lion Trainer (kind Lion Trainer please) to Doctor. In the right column, jot down the first step(s) you need to take to make that job happen. Go to night school? Work as an O.R. tech? Then you can begin to map your way towards that job.
- Take a walk, and then Meditate. Again, the best ideas come to us when our minds are clear but don’t spend your time trying to clear your mind of every thought. That’s one of the biggest misconceptions with meditating. The point is to be present. If you find yourself making lists, tell yourself you’re a great list maker. Then pull yourself back to focus on the sounds around you. For me, focusing on the present brings me clarity. It’s tough to see your next path when a cluttered mind gets in the way.
- Ask yourself what you’d do for a living if you weren’t afraid to pursue it? Fear is a job killer and the main reason most of us would never take a step towards what we want to do. Remove the fear and be amazed at what you’re capable of. Just remember, fear comes back. Don’t let it stop you when you’ve started. Push it to the side, breathe, meditate and get back at it.
- It seems in hard times, we can always turn to Oprah. One of my favorite quotes of hers has stuck with me thru every transition. In times of doubt I repeat this mantra often. “You don’t become what you want, you become what you believe.”
Keep moving my friends. Stay positive, stay safe and most importantly stay healthy. Great things are ahead for all of us. Remember, “From the ashes, we will rise.”
– Germaine Caprio, MAJAMAS EARTH Company Owner & Designer
Let ME know:
How are you staying motivated during COVID-19?
Please share your own thoughts with us – let’s get a conversation started in the comments below!