If you’re like me, then you’re sick of hearing the words “COVID-19.” You long for the days when we were able to gather in large crowds at concerts and events, shake hands, and even just see acquaintances. The sad reality is that we’ve been living like this – in self-isolation – for about a year now. COVID-19 has forced us to shift working, interacting, and meeting virtually, and this has caused many people to feel alone… Despite being more connected than ever.
One thing I’ve found that has lessened the toll of social isolation is attending online events.
Since COVID-19 came around, the team at First Work has worked hard to make sure our events have been able to still take place, because we know how important they are.
But how can a virtual event compare to the real deal?
Network and socialize without leaving the comfort of your own home
If there’s one thing to complain about in-person events, it’s the travelling you have to do to get there. Waiting for transportation, sitting in what feels like hours of traffic, navigating the parking situation… It’s just not ideal – and can bring on a lot of stress, and frankly, waste a lot of money and time. Thankfully, with virtual events you can forget about all of that! What used to be planning to leave an hour early to get to the event on time is now simply shutting off your favourite episode of “The Office” before walking from the couch to your kitchen table. The relief!
If you’re like me, the thought of attending an event in an unfamiliar conference building sends shivers up your spine and chances are, without a friend to go with you, you’re likely not going. This means potentially missing out on great opportunities! Attending events from the comfort of your couch means reducing the anxiety you feel in large crowds, or just being alone in general.
Realize you aren’t alone
Results of a survey conducted by Mental Health Research Canada (MHRC) found that social isolation and working from home have negatively impacted the mental health of all Canadians. Being in self-isolation for long periods of time can make you forget that you’re not alone in feeling lonely. The act of clicking on to a virtual event in and of itself can feel like an act of defiance to your feeling of isolation. Taking that step to just be present among the people in that virtual event can be that first step – even if you’re not up to talking to anyone.
That said, talking to others about what you’re going through is one of the best ways to remember that you’re not alone. “If you discuss how you feel with somebody who’s able to validate your feelings – whether they have personally experienced the same issues or not – that’s going to be helpful because everyone wants to feel heard.” – Dr. Eva Stubits, PHD.
Learn about opportunities you might not have considered before COVID-19
One positive that has come from spending a lot of time alone is having the time to reflect and truly learn about yourself and what matters most to you [read more about Amira’s experience learning about yourself during pandemic]. With the lockdown forcing small businesses and retail shops to close – where many of us find our first jobs – many people are starting to consider what their future career path might look like.
Attending online events such as Aspire to GROW and the startUp event coming up at the end of the month (hint hint) can really help you keep an open mind to different types of jobs available and can help you step outside of your comfort zone. Maybe you’re realizing that a 9-5 office job isn’t the right fit for you but, what else can you explore? Whether it’s taking up a career in landscaping or starting your own business, this time at home has blessed us with just that – TIME. Time we may not have had before to explore other opportunities that might even be a better fit for us than what we were doing before.
We’re not meant to live to work. If you want to you can, but you don’t – and shouldn’t – have to. It’s important that you find your passion and figure out if you can make it a career or(!) figure out what kind of job gives you the flexibility to cultivate that passion after work hours. Life is short, and if we’ve learned anything throughout this past year – it’s that everything can change within the blink of an eye.
So, if this article has inspired or spoken to you in any way, we encourage you to put your digital socializing skills to the test and join us at our startUp entrepreneurship event series happening later this month. Even if you aren’t building your own business any time soon, get inspired and remember – you aren’t alone!
The startUp entrepreneurship series is designed to excite your inner boss, grow your business skills and learn about funding opportunities for your big idea! Hosted over 3 days, you can attend each day or pick and choose to suit your entrepreneurial interests.
Day 1: Discover how to become and adapt as an entrepreneur in today’s new normal. Learn and network with entrepreneurs who have successfully pivoted and adapted their businesses during the pandemic.
Day 2: Interested in turning your side-hustle into a full-time gig? Develop your side-hustle stamina and learn how to manage your time while building a business (with other commitments on the go).
Day 3: Funding your idea is one of the most important steps to taking your business to the next level. Learn how to ‘wow’ potential investors and discover the many grants available to you during this workshop from Futurpreneur!