Just to preface, this post is going to be a bit different than my other posts. This post is going to be very real and raw, and it is not going to be one of those happy wedding posts that I have written in the past. If you don’t want to read this one, that is totally fine, please feel free to move on.
In some way, shape or form, we are all affected by COVID 19. You might know people who are sick, you might be sick, you might have lost your job, or maybe you might be experiencing debilitating anxiety from it. Your role in life may have shifted and you might be wearing all of these hats: stay at home parent, full time worker, and a teacher. There isn’t one person whose life has not changed in some way.
I want to write about how this has affected me and my business. I want to write about it because I think it might make me feel better. I want to write about it so maybe you won’t feel so alone. I want to write about it so that way people see me as human, and not just as a business. I am not writing this to make you feel bad for me or anything like that, we are all affected. I am hoping that something that I write here will resonate with you. Maybe it will spark up a conversation that is really hard to have. Or maybe it will show you that it is ok to wear vulnerability on your sleeve.
If you don’t know me or don’t know me well, know that I am an extrovert with a capital E. I also thrive on having an incredibly busy life. Basically, my schedule is packed all the time, and I love it. I always leave one day a week to stay home just to ensure I get some down time. Other than that I am always on the go. I sometimes overbook myself, which causes some stress, but I would rather be way too busy than not busy at all.
My perfect day goes something like this: get up with the sun, make some coffee, cook some breakfast, and then head to the gym. After I get done with the gym, I race home to shower, send a few emails and then head out for a few hours to work (meetings, photoshoot, work errands, etc). I come home, do some more computer work (editing, emails, completely other random to do list tasks). Once I am done with that, I go to happy hour with my family or friends. If we don’t go out I have them over for dinner and have a game night. I usually squeeze another hour of work in there somewhere and go to bed. To some of you, that is overwhelming. To others of you, that is nothing. That is the perfect day for me! It keeps me moving and grooving and I have a good flow to my day.
Now, start peeling away all those “tasks”, and do it rather abruptly. I went from having a lot of work to having no work. I went from being surrounded by people all the time, to only being around my overworked, “very essential” employed, partner. For someone like me, and I know there are a lot of you out there, that has been really hard on me. I am actively trying to fill the void with mundane house tasks, with website updates, writing blogs, etc. but it’s really hard. It’s like I went from being this really happy go lucky person, to being depressed in the matter of a week.
I haven’t been sleeping. I try to fall asleep and then wake up so stressed out about not having any work right now. But it’s not even that, it is the fact that I cannot work right now. Never, in my life, did I think that I would have to file for unemployment. I am one of those self proclaimed “boss babes”. I am one of those people that “hustle”. I work a lot because I want to be successful and I want to live a life that I am proud of. While I am up in the middle of the night, I become paranoid that I will get sick because I am not sleeping and then that sends me into another downward spiral. So I end up getting out of bed and working on my computer, writing blogs like this one. Simply so that I can take my mind off of things.
In April, this will officially be my first full year being self employed. This should be something exciting! I should be wanting to celebrate that! But, I am second guessing myself right now. Did I make a good decision by quitting my other job? I am playing mind games with myself and doubting that the moves I’ve made were the correct ones. I keep asking, how did I end up here? Weren’t you supposed to be ahead of where you are right now?
For those of you that are in the same industry or have a business model that is based on selling an experience or other intangible goods, what are you doing to change and adapt to the current situation? How can we be unique, different, and stand out? Is there anything we can be doing right now to generate some form of income? All these questions are flooding my brain at all hours of the day!
But you know what, in the end, none of this matters. Watching a business go down the drain doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter that we cannot see our friends in person for a while. It doesn’t matter that I feel unmotivated and am struggling to find drive right now.
What does matter is that 1000’s of people are sick. It matters that 100’s of people are dying everyday from COVID 19. It matters that we find a cure. It matters that 1000’s of people are going to work everyday putting their lives at risk.
I know I started this from the perspective of me as a small business owner but it has shifted. I am writing this as a human, person to person. If you are a small business owner before you are human, you are doing it wrong.
Maybe I am a little bit too far down the rabbit hole. Who knows? But I know there are other people right there with me. I know that right now, I am not at my best. It’s hard to be mentally healthy in a time like this. When it feels like you are surrounded by bad news you cannot escape from. I, personally, do not know anyone who has been hospitalized. But I do know people who are sick. With current statistics, I am going to be lucky if I don’t know someone who will die from this and let's be honest, this is what keeps me up, night after night. Money will come and go (as I said before, I am a hustler). I will always be a photographer. People will want important milestones captured. I will get work when I am able to go back to work.
Here I am at 2 am puking my thoughts out. I am certain this doesn’t sound especially articulate. But I felt it important to write something down. In times of crisis, everyone reacts differently to things. It’s important to remember there is no right or wrong way to feel. Notice that I said everyone (as in individual people) not as a business but as a human. Be human, right now. Be the person who will help others when they need it. Be the person who calls your friends, you know may be unwell and check on them. Be that woman who watches your neighbors kids while they run to the store. Be that guy who picks up groceries for his immuno-compromised mother. Be the person who is more worried about the people than what work we are missing out on.
Do your part right now. Stay home. Flatten the curve. It really does work!