Surviving 2020 with my Small Business
It's been a year. I thought this new decade would be a hit! A modern day hit- full of accomplishment and fun. But it didn't quite turn out like that.
I want to write about losing my first full-time job and where it puts me today.
It was just a normal day in the office. I had heard over a couple cubicles that some of our biggest events were being called off...weird I thought, but since I wasn't fully in charge of running these events, I didn't think too much about it.
Next thing I knew my HR Manager was hovering over my desk. WOOPS I had my phone out, I thought maybe the company was finally taking a stand on the phone use.
I went into her office and sat at the chair feeling like maybe I'd be getting that raise I asked for, or even a promotion into a new Marketing Position… how exciting!
"As you know" the HR lady said, "we have some events being canceled and we've even had to let go of some of our kitchen staff" - that kind of stinks I thought, but realized we did have a LOT of Kitchen staff so maybe it was the best for us.
"And we're also going to have to let you go". I didn't say anything but instead BURST into hyperventilating tears - a moment of complete shock and humiliation, complete vulnerability and drama. The HR lady quickly ran to her office door to close it and slid over a box of tissues my way.
I REALLY, REALLY tried to calm down the tears, but I couldn't and now was breathing out of control so I couldn't even speak to say how embarrassed I was that THIS was my reaction.
I never thought I would be one of those people to lose their jobs. But I knew the people that did ended up going through that “hard time" or "struggling to put food on the table". I cried out of my own pity for myself I think. For the fact that I thought such opposite of this meeting and for thinking that maybe this wasn't my dream job, but I could grow into it. I could start taking more of a leadership role, feeling a bit more important to the company, and then really start to enjoy the work more.
She slid over a piece of paper that explained my Unemployment Benefits and how to apply for them, she told me to read it over. I felt BEAT UP by this company- received unequal pay, never received my raise or my title change and now this...really!?
"You can leave this afternoon as soon as your desk is cleared" and I just thought "wow". I was in the middle of creating our new website, sending in orders to the print shop, finishing design projects, answering emails - what happened to all that? Just a complete halt and shift in time.
I left the room to clear my desk not really having said much of anything. What was there to say any way? Also I couldn’t breathe from crying. Through tears, I quietly started to take down my little Frida Kahlo and art postcards I'd hung, my mini cactus, pen holder, and everything else I filled my cubicle with trying to make it feel less like a cubicle.
I took a quick picture of the last view of my desk and then headed out the door. No goodbyes to anyone. I sat in my car and realized this was the last time I'd see this place.
^(My last meal) All of our lunches were catered and they were delicious^
But isn't this what I wanted? I had been applying to other jobs for a few months, even had a couple phone interviews but didn't get anywhere with them.
The problem was, this isn't HOW I wanted it. I wanted to be the one to quit, to leave, to move on to better things, but I had lost my chance...
I went on my phone to check my last of emails and "LOCKED" was all I got. That was it, and I couldn't decide if a weight had been lifted off my shoulders or put on them. What a strange feeling.
I called my boyfriend on my way home trying to talk through crying. He of course made me feel better by looking at the bright side. I got home and sat around the house the rest of the day thinking WHAT THE HELL do I do now- today, tomorrow, next week. On top of that I was trying to decide if I was happy or sad. Maybe emotions aren’t always so obvious as to happy or sad.
As months passed, I was able to see I was not alone. I saw one by one, one friend after the other being laid off. As much as it was sad, it made me feel a little less alone.
The following months were followed by more confusion, fear, dread, and hardships during quarantine from COVID-19. But I got to a point where I forced myself to enjoy it. To focus heavily on Carly's Vinyls, do a nightly work out, take my dog for a walk, and watch movies and shows with my mom. I facetimed my boyfriend but we didn't meet up- we fought and cried about it.
Very slowly I got used to my fear of COVID-19, I took my chances to see my boyfriend, and then my brother, and then some friends once quarantine had been lifted.
But something I was so THANKFUL for was just a few weeks before quarantine was called, I decided to spend the little money I had (and the little money I'd be making via unemployment) on a $400 camera - makes sense right? I thought I would use the camera for taking some real professional pictures of my artwork, but it actually led to something else...
Although I hadn't originally planned it, I started to film art videos, and soon they were up on YouTube! And then I was a YouTuber, I guess? Well I had had so much free time and another month of it (at least I'd thought) that I just felt I had to fill it with something. Luckily, filming and editing videos took me HOURS and DAYS.
I then started to fall for every freebie on Instagram and Facebook that led me to some kind of Marketing Lesson, Art Tip, or Business Advice. I really did take every chance to learn without having to spend money. I continued to listen to podcasts, create art, set a schedule for myself, and pretend life was kinda normal.
But there's no denying the stress headaches. The ABUNDANCE of time I had to think about myself, my relationship, my future, what I wanted and it was TOO MUCH.
AAAAaaand that's when I started therapy. I went through 2 different online therapists this year. The first one feeling very much like super expensive vent sessions, the second one more of like a teacher which I why I stuck with her a bit longer. She’s taught me some breathing techniques and some different ways of looking at situations.
To be still and quiet can be dangerous. Too much time can be dangerous - even though it’s also the one thing we always crave more of.
I’ve realized without my art business I would be deep in a dark hole. What would I be doing all the time? What would I have to strive for and work for? What goals would I have? What would I care about? I just don’t know.
I’ve learned to be so extra grateful for what I’ve created and to know it inspires others, makes it that much better too.
I’m so thankful for anyone who has ever supported me in any form of support...and if this isn’t enough to inspire you to get to buy from a small business near you, I don’t know what is!
There’s people like me that feel like they wouldn’t have a purpose without their small business, they wouldn’t have a passion, a spark, a motivator. So if that’s someone’s life-line, why wouldn’t you wanna save a life by supporting a small business?
That’s why I’ve committed to buy all my Christmas gifts from small businesses. A great start would be searching through Etsy, but also some of my local handmade shops that host local artists. This also makes shopping so much more fun let me also add!!!
Post Christmas, I’ll be sure to write another blog on all of the handmade gifts I’ve got for friends and family this holiday season. If you’re up for the challenge, I’d love for you to join me!
So cheers to the end of 2020 and a NEW year. A year that will yes- still present challenges but to people who are more resilient, prepared, educated and ready.