I Was Having a Hard Time at Work, So I Asked Queer Eye’s Antoni for Advice

*Spoiler alert* he is just as heartwarming IRL as he is on Netflix

Ishani Nath
Queer Eye's Antoni smiles at the camera wearing a pink jacket and white t-shirt against a purple background
(Photo: Getty)

I’ve been having a hard time lately.

On June 14, our amazing team here at FLARE was hit hard by layoffs. On that day, I said goodbye to some of the most talented and overall wonderful human beings I’ve had the privilege of working with; people I spent more time with than my friends or family. The loss felt devastating. While in theory, I was one of the “lucky” ones, being left behind came with a burden I wasn’t expecting. I felt guilty for still having a job, grief over our staff losses and afraid about what this all meant going forward (a collection of #feels known as survivor’s guilt).

In the tough days that followed, self-care was top of mind and one suggestion kept coming up: Netflix’s Queer Eye. Season 2 conveniently dropped on June 15 and you best believe that I spent the following weekend watching Tan France, Jonathan Van Ness, Karamo Brown, Bobby Berk and Antoni Porowski bring light, laughter and fiddle-leaf fig trees into people’s lives.

“This show is a warm hug that’ll make you hopeful for humanity,” Porowski later told me. And for those who haven’t yet seen it, that’s exactly what Queer Eye feels like.

While the show’s weekly “heroes” (i.e. the subject treated to seven days’ worth of smile-inducing, life-reviving magic from the Fab 5) come from all different backgrounds and walks of life, they all share one thing: the fact that they’re currently somewhat stuck in life’s muck. In the aftermath of the layoffs, where my days were filled with takeout food and worrying about the future, I realized that I was, too.

Whether it’s experiencing layoffs or a breakup or maybe just a fight with your BFF, we all go through rough patches. So, when I had the opportunity to speak with Porowski—the only Canadian member of the Queer Eye squad—I couldn’t help but turn the interview into an informal consult. After sharing my workplace struggles, what he told me warmed my heart—and in true Queer Eye fashion, brought me to tears.

A scene from Netflix's Queer Eye Season 2 with Karamo wiping a tear from Jonathan's face while he sits next to Antoni
(Credit: Giphy)

Feel whatever you’re feeling rn

Antoni’s advice: “Everything is just such a process and it’s so important to enjoy the moment that you’re in and accept it for what it is. If I’m feeling shitty and down, I don’t try to get myself out of it necessarily. Stay connected to other people, which is so important, but I try and let myself live through the sorrow and the anguish or the really positive things as well. 

 

Ross Gellar (David Schwimmer) from Friends says 'hi' in this gif
(Credit: Giphy)

My attempt to #bebetter: I realized that going through this massive transition had left me feeling so tired and low that when I answered the phone, I sounded like Ross Gellar. I needed a true day of rest—one that didn’t involve active attempts at self-care (i.e. cleaning my tub so I could have an Epsom salt-infused bath) or seeing friends who would inevitably ask how I was doing given the situation at work. I needed a day to just press pause on everything and let my body and brain rest. So I curled up on the couch for an entire Saturday, watched what I wanted (i.e. Netflix’s surprisingly good romcom Set It Up), ate what I craved (i.e. avocado toast and popcorn) and in the process, recharged my spirit.

Learn to say “no”   

Antoni’s advice: “I can be very self-destructive by nature, not in a self-harm way but in taking on more than I need to, or more than I should and putting my own sanity at stake so I can make other people happy. That was the biggest lesson in all of this in the entrance to public life. I realized I can’t make everyone happy and it’s actually impossible, so I’m being a little less hard on myself about trying to do everything and knowing when to say no. Like, ‘no’ is my favourite word right now.”

A gif of a sloth with the caption "how about no"
(Credit: Giphy)

My attempt to #bebetter: I have never been good at saying “no.” I’m usually the type of person that always picks up the phone and says yes to any event or social gathering that I’m invited to—but during Couch Saturday, I politely declined an invitation and it was absolutely freeing.

This won’t be forever…even if it feels like it  

Antoni’s advice: “The way that you feel now, you’re not going to feel like this forever. Everything passes. Whether you win the lottery and you get $10 million, that initial excitement will go away. If you’re the star of a show, you won’t always be, someone will replace you.” says Porowski. (In the case of Antoni, I sincerely hope not.) By the same token, he says that when you’re feeling terrible, it’s important to remember that other people have been in a similar situations before you and eventually, they figured it out, just like you will. “You’re not terminally unique…It doesn’t take away from how shitty it feels, but you’ll figure it out.”

Wanda Sykes saying "This, too, shall pass"
(Credit: Giphy)

My attempt to #bebetter: So many people have reached out since the layoffs. At first, I was convinced that no, *my* experience wasn’t like *their* experience with mass cuts, but I’ve since opened myself up to listening to what they went through—and I’ve learned from them as a result. These friends and family members validated that when these things happen, it can tilt your world, but also that eventually, I will figure it out, just like they did.

Time legit does help

Antoni’s advice: “Time is the answer. All the great things that happened in my life, none of them have ever happened when I thought they would or how I thought they would. Everything has always been sort of this weird amalgamation of little parts of different things. The biggest lesson to my younger self is just be patient. It doesn’t happen overnight—even though it seems like the success of this show has.”

My attempt to #bebetter: Even as I’ve drafted, edited and revised versions of this piece, I’ve noticed myself softening language and feeling more at ease with each day that passes. In place of that initial rage and sadness, motivation is starting to reemerge—and that gives me a whole new set of feels.

A scene from Queer Eye Season 2 where Antoni, Jonathan, Karamo, Tan and Bobby hug Tammye in the first episode
(Credit: Giphy)

Season 2 of Queer Eye is now streaming on Netflix 

Related: 

What’s Coming (and Going) on Netflix Canada in July 2018
This 13 Reasons Why Star Shares the Importance of Self-Care Off Set
“We’re All Scattered Messes:” Anne T. Donahue on Embracing Your Ever-Shifting Self

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