For anyone who is new here or hasn't read my previous blogs, 2020 was my first year as a full time entrepreneur. I had a total of four hot months to blissfully acquaint myself to this so-called life of working for yourself before the utter chaos of 2020 struck in early spring.
As weeks turned into months and the pandemic continued, I won't lie, I was f*cking terrified. Yea, I baked banana bread, Marie Kondo style organized every drawer and closet in my apartment, learned the Savage Tik Tok dance, sent my friends funny videos, and had zoom happy hours. I actually did all of the above twice. (Like 8x for the happy hours if I am being transparent here, but I digress...) I gained the quarantine fifteen which was extremely not ideal considering you're, like, supposed to be in your best shape the year of your wedding, right? I participated in all your run of the mill paper towel hoarding pandemic frenzies mostly all the while to distract myself from my real fear, what would happen to my business during a global pandemic?
Now I know what you're thinking, "She didn't binge watch Netflix?"
Of course I watched Tiger King, do you think I am a psychopath? I watched everything including Emily in Paris and guess what, I absolutely loved it...
I did anything and everything that would numb me from feeling the worry, the anxiety, and the fear of losing everything I have worked for in the past few years.
I was "waiting" for it to pass. For it to go back to normal, for everything to resume as it once was...
I think my biggest growth came the moment I realized this wasn't ending, passing, or returning to normal, any time soon, if at all. As a business owner and as a person, the second I started pouring energy into adapting rather than waiting, I experienced a turning point.
I learned more this year than I have learned in the past 10 years, easily. Granted, some of the lessons were not solicited and unwelcome, nonetheless I learned them. For example, I could have gone without learning the lesson of how to file a lawsuit against our wedding venue, for one. I think it's safe to say I would happily live a very fulfilled life not knowing how to sue anyone, but I am full on Elle Woods status equipped to represent myself and proud.
Then there was that time that I had to pack hundreds, maybe a thousand, orders with my fiancé because my employees needed to quarantine. That one was fun. I only cried twice that week. Another great moment was learning how to file for the PPP loan. Let's just say, I got a C- in accounting in college and my skills with such have since declined.
Nonetheless, I learned something valuable from even the unfavorable moments. I learned that (legal) knowledge is power, doing the small tasks keep you humble, and that I desperately needed a new accountant! I also learned to never say never. Before this pandemic I never could have imagined learning these lessons this way. I also could never imagine myself writing a blog on NYE and not being with my family and friends partying, yet here we are!
My favorite lessons were the ones I learned about the relationship I have with myself and with others. I learned how to prioritize myself, set boundaries that serve me, say no to things that don't & how to make my own homemade margaritas. All four of these things have me entering 2021 as the best version of myself. Something I also thought I would never say after an almost year long pandemic.
I didn't experience all this growth alone. I've done so with the guidance of our team health coach, Masha of The Sunday Self. To close out the year, we did a team exercise with Masha that forced us to reflect on 2020. She instructed each of us to scroll through our camera rolls, month by month, and document the highs and the lows we experienced throughout 2020.
I cried secretly on the zoom call when I scrolled past the photos of Gabrielle and I wedding & maid of honor dress shopping. I don't know why this evoked so much sadness for me, I have to guess it is because it's something that every "normal" bride gets to do, but now seems like such a luxury. I felt the same way when I passed a sweaty selfie of myself that I sent to my friend Bianca after a Tracy Anderson workout class. I guess what this really sent home for me was that we should really never take the little things for granted. Not a little shopping trip, not a little gym class, nothing. What is "normal" these days anyway? I don't think much. So if you have a good, fun, memorable, or positive experience... TRULY stop to relish in the moment. Although I miss the normalcy of those things, the girl who was doing them is different than the one writing to you today. She missed out on a lot of the little moments because she was always going, going, going.
She was also a shamer, a big huge shame monster. I spent a lot of time in the early parts of 2020 beating myself up for not doing enough to grow the business or to propel it. Obviously in hindsight, how could I? We were in survival mode and just worrying about staying afloat. I shamed myself so much for not doing enough, when in reality, I was really just working with what I had to stay in business and make ends meet.
In 2020, I learned to enjoy the little things, but more importantly, enjoy what I HAVE. I have a business that withstood an almost year long pandemic. I think that's something to be proud of.
Speaking of appreciating things I have, this scrolling exercise reminded me of something else that came out of 2020. We started this year with a team of two. We are leaving 2020 double the size. Hannah, who was a long time friend of Gabrielle's, joined our team full time. Sienna, a total stranger, completed our Island to East Side family. Now I know how a mom feels when they say they can't remember life before their babies. That's how I feel about Hannah and Sienna. We were great before they came into the picture, but life without them seems unimaginable now. We are blessed to have a place to work, while so many people have lost their livelihood this year. Not only do we have our work, we love it and enjoy every second of it.
Another thing I realized I have during this pandemic is a very loyal and supportive following and customer base. Thank you to every one of you who liked our photos, placed an order, and our favorite... sent us a DM with kind words or affirmations. I appreciate you more than you know and I am consistently impressed by your interest in us as people and our brand.
When I started officially working with Masha in May, my primary goal was to become the face of the brand. What I didn't realize, at least at first anyway, was that I had to work on pretty much everything else in my life before getting to my goal. I was making a lot of choices that were keeping me from being able to show up and connect with each of you in a more meaningful way. The girl in those earlier photos had no boundaries. She said yes to every plan, answered every call, always lended her resources, her help, her ear, and her love. All at the expense of herself and likely at the expense of achieving her personal goals.
My biggest take away from 2020 was that I need to choose myself more. Every day we make choices... what we eat, what we drink, what we watch on tv, who we follow on Instagram, what attitude we have, who we allow in our lives, who our inner circle consists of, how we live and how we remember things. I am choosing to take this year for what it was and to highlight both the good and the bad, but to remember it as a time of growth and evolution, a catalyst of sorts.
In 2021, I want to show the Island to East Side community more! More sides of me personally, our team, our struggles, our wins, and our journey getting there. I honestly don't know if the perfectionist in me would be saying that if it weren't for this completely imperfect year and everything imperfect that happened because of it.
Through all the shit that happened - difficult lessons, burnt banana breads, postponed weddings, and things I won't mention on my blog - I can honestly say I came out on the other end of this year WAY better than how I entered it. To me, that really doesn't sound so bad at all. In fact, it sounds like 2020 was a pretty important year for me.
Cheers to catapulting into a new year together. I want you along for the ride with me. I can't promise it will be perfect, but it sure as hell will be interesting.