Photographer Ariel Panowicz
Photographer Ariel Panowicz

Guest contributor Ariel Panowicz

Currently Binging: EVERYTHING. Ha. Some include: Unorthodox, Ozark, This is Us, Breeders, Nurse Jackie, Schitt’s Creek, Night on Earth (SO GOOD), Broad City reruns, duh.

Oh, 2020. What a wild ride you’ve been so far! Planting my roots in Omaha over 10 years ago and pursuing my career as a photographer + creative director has been incredibly rewarding. When you decide to take the leap and start your own business, there are so many fears and unknowns. Ultimately, your passion and love for what you do totally outweighs the fears and you GO FOR IT! When deciding to start your own business, you never think you will experience what we are all experiencing right now. It’s scary. It’s really freaking scary.

I’m constantly trying to find the balance between honoring my fears and remaining positive. I know we will all get through this, but I also know that it’s ok to not feel ‘strong’ all the time. Shift your perspective on what it means to be strong. There is strength in vulnerability. As a creative, it’s easy to feel like your productivity is a measure of your self-worth. It isn’t. (Louder for the people in the back.) Do what you have to do to get through these incredibly trying times right now and be kind to yourself as you are getting through it. Cry when you need to. Create when you need to. Sleep when you need to. Binge the crap out of shows when you need to. Stop comparing and just do you. (An important and relevant message for every single day, regardless of a pandemic.)

It’s interesting to me to see the incredible lapses in protection for various types of people and industries when a crisis like this arises. I noticed immediately that there were little to no protections in place for self-employed individuals and contract workers, such as photographers, gig workers, and freelancers of all kinds. This felt wrong to me. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been trying to push for information to ensure that protections and appropriate aid would be available for the freelance industry. For now, there are several resources that have been put in place. Low interest loans through the Small Business Association, with the first $10,000 forgiven, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and several grant programs, locally and nationally. It feels like an overwhelming time to want to support businesses that you love, but also protect yourself for the unknowns of the future. Trust that any way you love on the Omaha community is important and appreciated. Don’t underestimate the value in a like, comment or a shoutout on social media.

Through all of this, I think the most incredible part is seeing the community + world rally together. Spreading messages of hope and solidarity. Watching strangers and loved ones uplift each other, help to calm each other’s minds and just be there for one another. In this go-go-go world we live in, it’s easy to lose sight of the little things. How valuable it is to check in on one other, to acknowledge what you are grateful for, and to be more fully present with yourself. This is temporary, but I hope we all take this opportunity to look inward and evaluate how this could change us in a positive way and the power we have in implementing these changes to create a better world. Stay safe out there, y’all. Can’t wait to give you all the hugs and high fives soon enough.

Here are the links for the various education and aid currently for small businesses, freelancers, etc.:

SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan: (There is a grant program currently for up to $10k not required to be paid back.)

Paycheck Protection Program Information: (Information on the Paycheck Protection Program, still learning more about this myself.)

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance: (Once rejected from this, you will be automatically pulled into the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program in which self-employed individuals are eligible.)

I’m also starting a live free mentor session series on social media where I feature a different photographer/creative each week. It is free, but I am asking for donations in which the funds from each session will be donated to a different local organization such as the Women’s Center for Advancement.

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