Last March many of you had your entire calendars wiped clean. Ouch! Being in isolation and quarantine, unable to see our extended families and loved ones is one thing, but we have a layer on top of that in that our identities have been challenged. Many of you have never been home this many days in a row. And for some, the COVID blues have taken hold. Let’s talk about how we recognize the COVID blues so we can move forward in our speaking businesses.
This week I interviewed Jamie Clarke, an adventurer who had summited Everest multiple times, crossed the Arabian desert, and tells brilliant stories about his adventures from the stage. Big stages. At high fees.
Like many professional speakers, in the middle of March 2020, Jamie‘s identity was challenged. He was grounded for the first time in 35 years and did not know what to do with himself. At home, the things that he once enjoyed and thrived on were not interesting to him. He’d lost enthusiasm for all of the outdoor things that made up his everyday life, hiking, biking, spending time in nature.
He went into a dark tunnel that took him several months to work through. He had the COVID blues.
I wanted to write about this because I think that many of us, myself included, have hustled our clients or ourselves through the feelings of this pandemic. We have talked about how to pivot and how to go virtual with our ‘chin up everybody, let’s soldier on’ optimistic attitude.
I know that many of you have struggled and it’s for you that I write this post. Your mental health has taken a hit and sometimes I wonder if we don’t just have to feel the feelings. How do you mourn the loss of hundreds of thousands and sometimes millions of dollars? How do you move through an identity crisis like no other? And for some of you who are trying to cope with other pandemic layers, how do you become a homeschooling parent while trying to run a business?
These are all questions that I’m asking myself and I wish I had the answers for. But I don’t.
But here’s what I do know. Come Spring here in Canada, putting my feet on the grass will somehow assist my state of being. Nature has a way of rejuvenating us. There’s something that is literally grounding about putting bare feet in the grass.
For Jamie Clarke, getting himself back outdoors was a turning point in his mental battle. But it was a slow build. And perhaps he just needed to feel all of the feelings before he could move forward.
Perhaps for many, it’s not about knowing the actual answers to those questions, but recognizing that we don’t – and that’s okay to start. What we need to concentrate on is how it’s affecting us and acknowledge the feelings we have. It’s okay if you are scared, anxious, angry… these are all valid feelings.
In what parts of this new normal can you find comfort? What parts of this change to your lifestyle can you embrace and build upon to reinvent your identity. When Jamie decided this chapter was his “next adventure”, that was the next step towards change for him. He changed his primary thought from “who am I now?” to “this is my next adventure”. Something he now thinks of as: Expedition Life.
Perhaps these new experiences are building a new storyline that you can share with your audiences to help them find greater success. We know there are big lessons here. And while I recognize that mental health is a serious issue and that it affects everyone differently, I want to simply start the conversation.
For those of you who are struggling with the COVID blues, I’d like to offer you a forum to talk about your feelings, your identity, and where we might go from here. Perhaps just talking about your personal journey will be helpful. I invite you to join me on Clubhouse * on Thursday, March 11th at 12 pm EST for “Identity Crisis for Speakers During Covid”. If you aren’t on Clubhouse yet and need an invitation, please just email me. And bring along others that you feel would benefit from the conversation!
And to hear more about Jamie Clarke’s journey, watch for this week’s podcast when it goes live on Thursday. Jamie is my guest and we’ll be diving into his experience to share with all of you.
Be well… and I’ll see you soon, Wealthy Speaker!