Where it all changed
As we all know, 2020 has been an eventful year with the COVID-19 pandemic affecting all of us in some way. Some people managed to open new businesses and sought new opportunities in the pandemic, while others struggled and lost jobs and had to start fresh or are perhaps still trying to find their way!
My personal experience began when I was on the other side of the world in Australia.
I was working in a small, busy restaurant in the heart of a seaside town when news fled in that we had to close the restaurant immediately after practising social distancing measures for about a week prior. The news was bleak and the whole atmosphere of the restaurant changed, and everything felt so unreal. Shortly after this, I made the decision to fly back to the UK to be with family and to make sure I was home should anything catastrophic occur.
I was extremely happy with my job in Australia, being paid up to £25 an hour to be a waitress where I got to greet dogs and interact with happy, laid back customers. For the first time in my life, I did not feel the need to ‘be better’ I was just happy where I was, being me.
Finding a plan
Having returned to the UK during the pandemic, I quarantined at a family friend’s annexe in London for 2 weeks before heading back to my hometown in the South West. This was in April when the first lockdown was still happening, and we assumed it would only last a few weeks. My initial plans were to return to work in a well-known chain restaurant that I was working in for 2 years before moving to Australia for a few months and then return to Australia.
The lockdown continued, the restaurant closed permanently, and it was announced no one can enter Australia until at least 2023.
I started to question all my life choices and why I did not set myself up with some stability in my hometown before jetting off travelling. I was left with what felt like nothing, no job, no house, no car, and not many friends from being away for so long. I started to think ‘why did I not focus more on my career.’
April, May, June, July, August, September, I was without work. I applied for as much as possible but with limited job opportunities in my hometown and so many places closing and people losing their jobs meant it was very difficult to find anything at all.
How I hit refresh on my life
Not working during the pandemic began to really affect my mental health, I felt so useless and bored! I felt like I was not doing anything to better myself or progress in life. I started to wonder if I should return to university and begin a post-graduate course, but I knew I wasn’t mentally prepared for this. I then thought about going to college just to have something to get out of bed for every day and gain a new qualification instead of doing nothing. But, I could not financially support myself. Whilst looking through the college website I stumbled upon apprenticeships, I then began to think this could work! It’s the only way I can have a guaranteed income and work, and it will give me the opportunity to gain a new qualification. My thoughts were that if I complete an 18-month apprenticeship I will be in a much better position with more job opportunities in a year and a half time, rather than keep seeking temporary restaurant work.
I am now 2 months into my apprenticeship, and it was the right decision! When lockdown 2 came during the pandemic and restaurants/shops were forced to close again, I was working from home, I had something to focus on and something to get out of bed for every day. Although daunting at first, having been out of work for so long and going back into education, I am very happy with my decision and feel as though I am progressing well and at my own pace.
My plan, for now, is to continue and complete the apprenticeship, save up as much money as possible and get the driving license that I never got when I was younger! At the end of my apprenticeship, I will continue travelling or relocate to a different city and find new opportunities with my new experience and qualification!
My final word is; do what makes YOU happy. It doesn’t matter how ‘fancy’ your job is or how much money you are making. Your happiness is the most important thing. No one will be on their last days and be grateful for how much money is in their bank, they will be grateful to look back at the memories had and that they were able to live a happy life!
This blog is written to share my experience and offer advice about hitting refresh on life during 2020! #TellYourStory with MyNeedToLive