Surreal – that is the word Wendy Petrie uses to describe her life right now. Most likely lots of us feel that way about the pandemic struck year that is coming to an end. For Wendy, it has been particularly challenging to get her head around the way things have changed because it took a while for her new normal to happen.
Back in July, she was devastated to be made redundant from her job, presenting TVNZ’s 6pm news alongside Simon Dallow. On her final official day on-air in August, there was a farewell morning tea held in the newsroom, a low-key affair with a couple of cakes.
But then, after all the goodbyes had been said, Wendy seemed to be on our screens almost non-stop, appearing on Breakfast, the late news and on weekend bulletins.
“I was bizarrely busy,” she recalls. “People kept saying to me, ‘We’ve never seen you more!’ It was very confusing.”
Right up until the election, Wendy’s schedule was packed as she filled in for other presenters. Then suddenly, with the election over, TVNZ didn’t need her help as much, and she realised this was it, her new life.
“Up until that point, I hadn’t faced the reality of losing my job,” admits Wendy. “Now, for the first time, it was sinking in and I felt very alone. I missed my colleagues and turning up to work every day and my job, which I loved. I felt self-pity and hated that as I don’t like feeling sorry for myself.”
As a broadcast journalist, Wendy has had a dream run covering news events around the world, before landing the coveted role on 1 News. Being without the job she had worked so hard at came as a shock.
“One of my friends gave me some good advice. She said it’s OK to feel sad, you need to grieve,” says Wendy. “I’ve not really dealt with this sort of thing before in my life. I know that I’ve been lucky, but still it hurts. And it’s OK to feel sorry for yourself, a little bit.”
Getting plenty of exercise and listening to inspiring podcasts has helped. “Running always makes me feel better,” she tells. “Being outside, having some time to myself and some headspace.”
There are still ups and downs to deal with, good days and bad. “This has been the hardest year of my career and when you’re a woman facing 50, that’s a tough reality,” she shares.
Plenty of other female broadcasters have disappeared from our screens as they headed into their 50s, however, in an era when we are embracing diversity, Wendy, 49, hopes this is going to change.
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