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  • Naomi Beaumont

Strange times

Updated: Jul 17, 2020

I mean, if I had a pound for every time I've heard that one over the past few months I wouldn't need to work again. Strange times, unprecedented times, troubled times, whoa CRAZY times guys! For a while there if you didn't start an email with it you were basically a sociopathic troll, and pretty much every lockdown ad had to say it, which is just lazy and made me want to smash the telly in a bit. Don't get me started on 'Now, more than ever...'

So I am sorry for adding to the strange times spam, but I had to get it off my chest to be honest. And it made me think, about how latching onto a word or phrase and using it ad infinitum seems to help humans process stuff and feel a tiny bit calmer in the face of adversity. Like Boris with his little soundbites and slogans, giving the illusion of control, but...

I think we have always used repetitive patterns in language to help us feel comforted, heard, validated, to make sense of what's happening around us. Maybe even cavemen felt a bit better about the sabre-toothed tiger once they assigned a catchy sequence of grunts to it; if we can name it, we can handle it. My daughter feels better about life after hearing a favourite bedtime story. Many souls are soothed by the scripted hum of Radio 4. Affirmations, superstitions, nursery rhymes, ad endlines, football chants. Goodnight, sleep tight, later alligator, fingers crossed. Familiar and well-loved words or phrases give shape to our day, our relationships, how we define ourselves.

So it's nice that this year, language has become my way to deal with change and find a new foothold in the slightly bumpy slopes of my career. I resigned from my job in client services at a big advertising agency in early January, with a 3 month notice period and a hazy plan to go freelance, exploring the eternally elusive 'something else' as a side hustle. Cue the accursed strange times; the freelance advertising market was as dead as a dodo and adjustment was needed.

In a weirdly fateful way, some pieces of the pandemic puzzle fell into place for me. As lockdown started, I kissed a merry goodbye to adland and threw myself into looking after two small kids, the comfort of domestic drudgery and running hot miles on the crooked pavements of Barnet to keep myself sane. I was lucky enough to be finishing up 6 months' worth of life coaching sessions, and to have the brilliantly tenacious Nadia Patel giving me a regular pep talk / kick up the backside.

Lockdown gave me the headspace to find the right pattern of words for what I wanted to do next: creativity, flexibility, simplicity, home, writing, happiness, my time, my way. So, only the beginning, but I found out that words and language have long been my comfort zone, even if using them to make a living isn't just yet. Fingers crossed...

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