Becoming a Communications Officer during a Pandemic.
When lockdown was first announced, I was two months into my role of Assistant Communications Officer, and I was shaken to think that the role I had only just got to learn, was going to be changing so drastically- and that the process of training, upskilling and learning the ropes, was going to take place without my team members beside me. The world was a scary place for everyone- and I took some comfort in knowing that whilst we were all in very much different boats; we witnessed the same storm, and that change, and the feeling of ‘new’ was shared by us all; from those who had worked in the organisation 10 years, to myself who had been there officially for only 10 weeks- we were all facing this together; even though the climate was keeping us apart.
The first few weeks came with a lot of uncertainty- suddenly the online world was all we had, but I still hadn’t learned all I needed to know yet. I didn’t feel ready to dive into the world of networking and online communications…. despite it being the only method of communication, we had.
It was trial and error. And a lot came from taking leaps of faith; trusting an idea and hoping it would pay off. Some didn’t. But others did, and with each small leap; I began to see my ideas grow, and my organisation grow from strength to strength as we all found our feet in this whirlwind that we had been put in. I witnessed first-hand the difference I was making. A spark of positivity in a world that needed it.
We all know that mental health has been a raw topic of this pandemic; and as professionals no doubt we have all done our best to advise and support those around us the best we can… I remember being sat in a Uni lecture… well in my bedroom watching a lecture via zoom- and my tutor advised us that we should limit our news intake for a few weeks…. and with that my phone beeped; as it did about 500 times each day; to which I was reminded of what was possibly one of the hardest parts of my job during 2020.
As a Communications Officer, I witnessed first-hand the power such communications mechanisms hold; through such platforms we’ve been able to engage, create, communicate, empower- and provide opportunities which otherwise would be non-existent in a world without face-to-face facilitation. I’ve seen and have contributed to the amazing work that this online virtual network has created and seen how through a time of such isolation- its power has held communities together.
But with power; comes the potential of pain. And I’ve seen that too. Every headline. Every update. Every statistic. I was in the frontline of each one. Every time I ‘showed up’ to do my job, whether it be through a tweet, a blog…. Post… Snap… you name it; I was faced with the latest articles; the latest updates- and all the content that followed. I knew about every detail of every restriction of every city.
But it wasn’t just the pandemic.
2020 was a harsh year. For many. And the media certainly didn’t hold back in its publication and point of making us know so, and whilst I still believed in and witnessed the beauty of such networks, and the positivity I was contributing to, I saw and felt the pain. And honestly, it’s tiring. Maintaining a role that requires you to be a positive role model; yet surrounds you and puts you at the front line of so much negativity.
This is where; self-management comes in. The ability to say you know what; we don’t need to tweet today; or tomorrow for that matter. Some days a ‘switch off’ day was the most productive thing I could do. Whilst I may not have been making a dent in my to-do list; most importantly I wasn’t making a dent in my mental health.
As professionals, whatever industry or provision we work in, our role will no doubt require us to be there for someone- be it as a line manager, mentor, youth worker, service provider, teacher- someone needs us. And they’ll need the best version of us. And admitting when we can’t give that is hard. I know it. I’ve been there. But if there’s anything I’ve learned over the last 12 months; you can’t pour from an empty cup.
So, if switching off from the negativity of the outside world is what allows you to fill your cup.
Do it. Twitter can wait.
THE POWER OF POSITIVITY
It’s probably easier, now more than ever, to highlight the negatives of the social media world. There’s a lot of it out there. And some days might feel like our posts of positivity and hope, are only drops in an ocean of content otherwise dark and gloomy. I definitely did. After a while, I began to question if the positivity, that at first excited and encouraged me in my job; was really enough to stand out from the otherwise negative media sources; It was all just a drop in the scheme of things.
But what is an ocean, but a multitude of drops?
Your drop counts. All drops count.
Whilst the work done by me or you; may only be a drop- can we even begin to imagine if each person reading this now- added their own drop. Of positivity and hope. Of aspiration and inspiration. Imagine the power we would have; to make a stand of positivity. See the truth is really; no matter how small we believe our actions to be; we all have the power to make the virtual world we live in; as positive, powerful and peaceful as that we hope for our outside world to become too. And that is exactly why with all the challenges, uncertainties and hurdles that have come with being a Communications Officer during a global pandemic- I feel extremely blessed to have my job and the strong and powerful networks that have brought us all together through this time.
An entire ocean in just one drop.