This is month 10 of my 1-year journey to figure out what I want. I’m on a mission to be happy and content every single day.
Perspective Via The Virus
To be fair, I set out to find perspective this year. I all but begged God/The Universe/the mystical powers that be for a shift in priorities. So maybe all of this is my fault? If you need to blame someone for this pandemic, it might be me. I can take that if you need me to.
But when I sought contentment this year … when I asked myself the question: What do I want? … I wasn’t expecting this. I wasn’t expecting it to feel like the sky was falling down around me. I didn’t think the world would come to a literal halt, forcing all of us to re-evaluate how we live, work, and interact as a society. But alas, here we are.
Anger, Gratitude, and Sadness … Oh My.
When I sat down to write this monthly recap, I laughed. It feels ridiculous to post anything about personal growth when there is so much heaviness in the world. But it feels equally ridiculous to add to the #COVIDConversation because everyone is having it and what could I possibly have to say that’s new?
So I guess this is my attempt to do a little of both. I put myself in a bit of a timeout the past two weeks. And not the good kind where you reset your brain and log off the internet and “find yourself.” I was a zombie of consumption. I wasn’t present with my family and couldn’t put down my phone. I watched all of the Internet, including that terrible show Tiger King that everyone is talking about. I absorbed sad news, sad Facebook comments in all the photographer groups I’m a part of, funny memes on Instagram, and emails from everyone in my inbox that is still trying to run their small business.
I felt help helpless, hopeless, angry, so incredibly grateful, scared, sad, and eye roll-y. I’ve seen so much good in the world over the past two weeks (all from the safety of my couch) and felt so much resentment toward people who don’t seem impacted by this. I’ve felt paralyzed by indecision and finally, today I felt energized into action.
I haven’t really worked in 3 weeks. We are quarantined with my parents and my mom offers every single day to take the baby and let me work. But I haven’t had it in me. I’ve been too sad. And I finally realized over the past few days that it’s because I’m mourning.
I’m mourning the business I thought I was building and the expectations of where I saw it going. I’m grieving the loss of the hours and hours I spent creating this thing that I love, this work that fulfills me on so many levels.
To be clear: It’s not gone (far from it). But the unknown of what happens next makes me feel like it can never look the same. I have to change what I’ve done to operate in this new world. I have to look at everything that has worked and flip it upside down and try again. It feels like starting from square 1 in a lot of ways. And I’ve just worked so hard to be back at the beginning. So I’m annoyed and I’m angry and I’m sad. But those emotions aren’t helping anyone.
So Let’s Look Forward …
I have exactly zero more information than you about what our world looks like 6 months from now. I don’t know what is going to change tomorrow or what will still be different in 5 years because of this.
But lemme tell you what I do know that you (assuming you’re a small biz owner like myself) might not yet believe …
The same grit, creativity, and resourcefulness that built your business or created your happy life is exactly what you’ll use in your post-COVID life. We get to be sad and mourn the loss of what was. We get to acknowledge how scary this is and how we don’t know what’s going to happen. But we also get to look within ourselves and see how capable we are.
I watched my dad fight for his business after the housing market crashed in 2008. But I distinctly remember a conversation with him where he rubbed his hands together, actually excited, and said, “Rach, we get to start all over. And isn’t that part of the fun?” The man had just lost almost everything! He spent decades building his company, employing people who became family, crafting retirement plans. And it was gone. Almost.
What remained was his tenacity, his willingness to sacrifice, his ability to pivot and adapt, and his desire to build it all again. He could have thrown in the towel so many times over the past 12 years. He could do it again right now. But he won’t because he trusts himself.
Trust = Success
I think a lot of what I struggle with in owning my own business is defining success. Because there is no blanket, black and white definition. It’s different for everyone and we all kind-of have to write our own rulebook for it.
Is it how much money I make? Is it the kind of lifestyle I get to live? Is it how happy I am? And if it is the happiness one, how do you quantify that? Success is so elusive, so vague, so personal, that I question if I will ever feel I’ve achieved it. And then it’s like, “What’s the point?”
But! (Stick with me; it’s not all despair here.)
Something I’ve already learned through this pandemic (maybe the only valuable thing I’ve learned?) is that success isn’t a level to be unlocked or a feeling you wrestle to the ground. It looks different through different seasons. Success is the ability to celebrate your wins when they happen and roll with the punches when they don’t. We have a lot of punches comin’ at us right now as small business owners. But for me, in this season, success looks like trusting myself. It looks like taking stock of what I’ve done and having the faith and confidence that I can do it again if I need to.
So if you can find nothing else to look to for hope in this weird and pretty terrible month, look at what you’ve achieved and have faith (both in yourself and in whatever higher power you believe in) that you can do it again.
(And if this feels very doomsday to you, know that I cope with hard things by envisioning the worst case scenario possible. It makes me realize that even the worst thing I can think of is usually fixable.)
My Round-Up of #CopingThroughCOVID Resources
A life book I loved … Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I loved this book so much and just didn’t expect to. The format is so unique. The era is one I didn’t live through. The dialogue is fantastic. I literally took photos of certain pages because they moved me so much.
A business book I liked … Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo. I resisted this one because I tend to try to think I’m too cool for popular business gurus. News flash: I’m not too cool and Marie is the best. I love listening to authors who read their own books. This was no different.
A nonfiction book every [artist] should read … The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I can’t stop talking about this book. i just bought my own copy. I read it first years ago and am now loving it with what feels like fresh eyes. It’s good for my heart right now (and it would probably be good for yours too).
A podcast I loved … The Case of the Missing Hit // I feel like everyone I know posted this, so Trav and I made it a point to listen together. It was HIGHLY entertaining. Can’t recommend it enough.