I have been racked with anxiety for years now. It wasn't that long ago when I had no job, my physical health was declining, and I had no idea where I was going with my life. It got to the point where some days I would be afraid to go to the shop for fear of having an anxiety attack. It was a legitimate fear because some days that would really happen.
These days, I'm not so bad. I now have some weapons to bring to the fight against my own mind: Consistency, friendly social interaction, an evolving perspective, and above all else, a sense of purpose. All of those things, and much more besides, were provided to me through my experience working at West Cork Arts Centre.
It's almost been a year and a half since I walked into the job interview at Uillinn. As you can imagine, I wasn't brimming with confidence. I mostly said what you'd expect, telling them about my work experience, and spouting the usual keywords like ''initiative'' and ''punctuality''. It was near the end of that interview that I felt I obliged to tell them the truth about my anxiety. The hard truth of it was that I was worried that there might be some days that I might freak out and need to leave suddenly so I could go home and get my mind together. Who doesn't want an employee who is likely to leave their job at a moment's notice? Well, the interview team at Uillinn seemingly didn't because I didn't get the job. At least not on the spot. They called me a few days later and offered me the position.
I was thrilled. I can't tell you how much I appreciated that one small bit of faith and understanding.
The most stand out memories of my first few weeks there were of getting to know the people I was working with. They were then, and still are to this day, an extraordinary group of people. I'm not just saying that because they may be reading this, I honestly believe it. Even though I could write an essay about the qualities of the people at the Centre I won't because if you know these people, you know what I'm talking about.
On a more practical level, they've trusted me to do podcasting like I mentioned but also to write this blog, both of which I had a big interest in even outside of work. Every day, I'm privileged to meet artists from all sorts of backgrounds, talents, and perspectives. I get to meet people who are involved in the amazing and inspiring Arts for Health programme. I'm able to see the processes and final execution of so many different forms of incredible artforms. I even answer the phone from time to time! Honestly, though, I couldn't ask for a better environment. Ultimately because of the job, the artists, and the people I work with, my anxiety barely gets a word in these days.
Unfortunately, the lockdown restrictions required the closing of many doors for the last few months but as of this week, the Centre's doors are reopened. With the necessary health and safety guidelines in place, things will work a little differently for the foreseeable future. I asked some of my coworkers how they felt about going back.
One of them said that they are "looking forward to the sounds of people in the Arts Centre, it makes the art come alive."
Another staff member saw both the up and downsides: ''Initially, I was excited to see everyone I work with and grateful for the extensive guidelines about Covid for staff and the public. But now if I'm honest I have mixed feelings because it's possible there can't be as much interaction with staff and the public so the sense of isolation is still there.''.
Personally, I have been looking forward to getting back into the working routine again. The health and safety precautions are going to take a small bit of adjusting to but I'm eager to see what the new normal will be. I'm mostly looking forward to seeing all the people involved there because they add so much to my life. If you don't believe my appraisal of the people there or the range of beautiful work on the walls then don't take my word for it and come see for yourself.