Lesson that COVID-19 Taught Me

By Mandii Carr

Our jobs are important but not everything.

I enjoy being busy, I really struggle when I have nothing to do,  over the last  8 years I have studied two degrees while juggling 2-3 casual jobs. My inability to relax means I am constantly on the move (or could this be due to the crushing anxiety of capitalism – who knows?).

Earlier this year I was working in Research Services here at Western Sydney University, after being granted a contract extension I felt like I was really on the path to obtaining full-time employment within the University sector. During this time I also maintained employment in the retail sector at a store in Penrith.

I worked on campus right up until COVID-19 shut down the university, for a brief moment I was the only one working in the building. My contract expired in April with no possibility of further extension. It was during this time that my retail store also closed, and I completely ceased work. My strong work ethic was tested as I found it increasingly difficult to navigate what to do with my time. Working is part of my identity; I really struggled with what to do whilst discovering who I was without work. (Additionally, can we mention the roles that were considered essential are deeply underpaid and not given nearly the respect they deserve, perhaps that is a blog for another day!)

Money isn’t everything, but it surely helps.

I was fortunate to still have a small amount of savings to live on after losing my job. However, this did not last long and there was still a shortage of jobs on the market. I really started to feel the strain of COVID-19, both mentally and financially. I was fortunate enough to be put on a Government payment which was a tremendous help.

Having a small safety net to fall back on provided me with a sense of comfort that things would be okay, fast forward to the middle of the pandemic and I was struggling to keep myself afloat. So, while money isn’t everything, it has importance as it allows one to maintain a healthy body and mind.

When the world prefers contactless – your connections are priceless

Having always identified as a people person, I find it easy to talk to anyone about anything. One of the biggest learning curves for me was really appreciating people, learning to give them 100% of my attention during interactions. I am now learning to enjoy time spent in a social setting without letting my mind thinking about all the things I need to do tomorrow (okay, so I might still be working on this but it has made me way more aware of being present in the moment).

I am now back working in several casual roles, and studying online at our Sydney City campus. I’ve learned that nothing lasts forever, but our connections are so vital to our well-being. Even now at work, I find I am giving my customers more of my attention, wanting to hear about their lives and days. Appreciate the people closest to you, appreciate those that love you and want to spend time with you, your tasks can wait, your life can’t!

2020 - the year of zoombies

The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that zoom can never replace quality time with friends and family. As summer begins and the world works towards vaccines and eliminating COVID, my life is looking very much as it did before the pandemic, however, I will always appreciate the lessons COVID and lockdowns have taught me and I hope you have learned something too.

About the Author | Mandii Carr

Mandii is a former student leader here at Western Sydney University; she is currently in her final year of her Communications degree and also holds her Arts degree.