by Jen Schneider

 

One of the biggest things I have learned both personally and professionally is that there are times the show must go on. And for those who persevere, you and those around you will be stronger for it.

When I was 18, I auditioned and joined my first band – ‘Knock Off Ned’. Over the years I have continued to play in a few other bands, ending my classic rock career with ‘The Jen N Tonics’ alongside my dad, the drummer, and my now husband, who played guitar.

Playing in a cover band wasn’t always easy. We played in bars all over the Baltimore area and, as you can imagine, shows did not always go as planned. Technical issues and equipment are oftentimes tremendous hurdles, but more than that were the critics who would voice their opinions after each set. It wasn’t easy to continue to perform when someone would stand next to the stage waiting for your next break.

Now for me, wardrobe was important. I loved putting fun outfits together and I remember one show where I dropped my super cute “performance shirt” in the toilet (because the bathroom was my “dressing room”). I couldn’t just go to the owner of the bar and say, “Hey, I don’t have the shirt I want, we need to pack it up and call it a night.” I ended up wearing the tank top I had on even though it was sweaty and covered in dirt from hauling our equipment into the venue. In the end I don’t think anyone noticed.

One of the hardest obstacles to overcome was playing to no audience. My Number One fan was my mother who would always attend our shows, but there were nights where we were playing for just her and the bartender. Playing music for two people for two plus hours is tough. Crowd energy can make or break a show, but we always finished those shows with a smile on our faces (even when we didn’t feel like it).

As we navigate life in the time of COVID, I am reminded of the obstacles we faced when performing. Being a search consultant right now isn’t easy, and I think it is safe to say life during COVID isn’t easy in general. While I know those hiccups I mentioned are small compared to what everyone is facing today it reminds me that even when things don’t go according to plan, we as professionals have to perform. We must perform to support our families, to maintain momentum, and for me, to perform to offer the level of partnership to clients and candidates.

Whether it is navigating your Wi-Fi, homeschooling your kiddos, travel restrictions or missing Friday happy hours – all coupled with  the lingering anxiety and uncertainty surrounding a pandemic- you have to take a step back. As long as you continue to perform you will get the best outcome possible.

Last year ‘The Jen N Tonics’ came out of retirement after six years for a charity event. Even though we practiced for months before the show, we were rusty and made mistakes, but it was one of the best shows I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing. We played for a great cause, Special Olympics Maryland, and I was blessed to perform with my sons (ages two and four at the time), my dad and my husband in front of some of the most important people in our lives.

During these times as we embrace this “new normal” I hope you are able to smile through the difficulties, support one another, sing, dance and continue to perform. Give yourself grace in those moments when you stumble because as long as you take a breath and continue pushing forward, the show will go on.