The Beauty of Job Insecurity


Article by Hannah Echols

Photography by Hannah Echols

In times as unprecedented as these, I have had several conversations with people who are worried about how the coronavirus is going to affect their jobs, livelihoods and means of providing for their families. With so many people now working from home and so many businesses struggling to have enough money to pay their bills, it makes sense that people have worries about their jobs becoming obsolete.

My aunt Sissy is undoubtedly one of the most beloved people in her office and has put in over 25 years at her company. She is the one people run to if they need a party planned or something celebrated. So much of what she does is based on bringing people together and in-person communication. Working from home has caused her job description to shift 180 degrees. Last weekend we were working very hard to complete an impossible puzzle of silly zoo animal faces (a classic quarantine activity). Pauses between placing pieces provided space for her to express her concern that, with everyone working from home, her company may come to see that her position isn’t necessary.

Julie, one of my oldest friends, is a housing professional for the university system. She is currently a residence hall director for a dorm, along with a slew of other jobs I cannot quite remember, and in graduate school to work full-time for student life. Julie is absolutely passionate about setting students up for a great college experience. She is confident that college is so much more than academics. With virtually all U.S. colleges going online, she is nervous that the need for student life and housing professionals will decline. It’s way cheaper for the government and everyone else if people don’t have to finance all of the on-campus activities.

I am in the process of trying to be a full-time writer. Before the coronavirus, I had really just begun to write for a handful of different magazines and edit for a few other outlets. Those have virtually been put on pause for the time being. Even the coffee shop where I work has, understandably, reduced all of our hours. This is in the midst of trying to plan and save for a wedding which, depending on how this virus plays out, may look entirely different than our original plans.

I am sure that you can think of several different scenarios and job fields that are singing a similar tune right now. Things are changing. But, in the midst of change, a new thing is developing. The air feels a little bit clearer, our eyes are a little more open, and everyone is paying attention. Our routines have been paused and the world is aware of the intensity our current cultural moment possesses.

No matter who we are, we can choose worry, or we can choose to see opportunity.

If you are worried: Maybe it’s OK that our jobs might never be the same. Take heart that there’s something else buried inside of you that now has the space to rise to the surface—a calling, an adventure. Those creative dreams that you haven’t had the time to invest in are screaming. Those people you’ve been meaning to reach out to are waiting. Those big questions about life and love and God are a prayer away. You are dynamic and not defined or valued by a certain position.

You might be thinking, “that’s great and all, but I love my job and I don’t want it to change.” How exciting for you! For such a time as this you are in your field to fight for what you believe in. We need people to fight for the importance of people and community ABOVE money at a time when it is so easy to go digital and disengage. My prayer is that this virus will actually purify and heal the heart of so many businesses and industries. (Some encouragement: all we really have right now is social media and people are realizing that it is not enough. As we’re forced to social distance, we are realizing the importance of being together more than ever.)

And, for those of you whose job is virtually the same: people are calling you heroes. From Arby’s drive-thru workers to medical professionals, everyone is recognizing the value each person’s work really has in sustaining a community. A couple of weeks ago, it was easy for a workday to feel average. Now, each shift is glazed with purpose and intentionality. We are finally treating the people who serve us as they should be treated on a daily basis.

My mom is a clinical laboratory scientist and works in the hospital department that provides coronavirus testing. Every day she does work that saves people’s lives, but in the midst of a crisis people are actually highlighting it. People like my aunt Mandi are sewing masks (that are fashion-forward, I might add) for healthcare workers and people go outside hospitals at night to write encouragements in chalk outside of hospital buildings. Imagine what the world would be like if we always appreciated people in this way.

When the coronavirus is behind us, we will still live in a specific Kairos (an opportune time, a "moment" or a "season" such as "harvest time.”) What if the coronavirus actually brings more LIFE than it takes away from our planet? My hope is that this time leads everyone to the truth of how we are individually born for intentional moments of time. Our days are more than a job, more than acquiring money, and more than what we do, period. Our days are how we grow together, how we learn, and how we love. Nothing can take that away from us.

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