It's time for my annual end of the year post, where I reflect on the year's past and the future ahead. I debated writing this post this whole week, and in fact, still am struggling with the words now that I am actually sitting down to write it (on New Year's Eve morning - nothing like leaving it down to the wire!). This might take a bit, so bear with me.
First of all, I can only sum up how I'm feeling today with three words: We. Made. It. I made it. Typically with these posts, I tend to speak on behalf of my whole team; but this time, I can honestly and wholeheartedly say that I am relieved on a personal front that the year is over. On many levels.
Sure, every year had its challenges, but I am pretty sure that everyone would agree with me that this year was unlike anything we've experienced and was in no way typical of the challenges that we usually face.
Usually, it's a little loss of business, that one insufferable client, struggles with time management (and burnout), relationships taking a toll due to poor work/life balance, more visits to the doctor to get antibiotics or pain meds, hustling because there's never enough time in the day and never enough naps taken. There are cars breaking down, routine maintenance in the house, juggling groceries and schedules, finding the best deal on the thing you wanted to go on sale forever, the annual dilemma on how to one-up your spouse on an anniversary or Valentine's Day present, figuring out how to give attention to elders and in-laws that all vie for our time. Arguments about where to go on vacation, strategies on how to get that raise, patience being tested with your kid's snarky remarks.
These hurdles that were once significant now feel like they pale in comparison to the challenges we faced this year.
Indefinite online learning.
Mental illness exacerbation.
Small business shutdowns.
Unprecedented racial prejudice.
And besides the online learning, I can say that I experienced the effects of every single one of those things, as many of my peers did. Some more than others -- from my dog going through major tooth surgery to bedbugs to taking the car in to the shop 8 (!!!) times to my father passing away. I felt it. All of it.
So this year I am going to do something a little different - I am not only going to share the lessons learned from an entrepreneur perspective (although, I can very much apply them all to my business), but I will share from the perspective from a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, and a fellow human being.
You can give up or give in, but if the universe doesn't want you to, there is no way in hell you can. End of story.
You are more resilient than you think. Whether you believe it or not, the number of challenges that were given to you directly correlates to how much you are able to handle. I guarantee you, even if it is excruciating, you will come out on the other end. It will pass.
You can work at something for months and years and it can still be taken out from under you in an instant. Which means nothing is permanent. Which also means you have to cherish what you have at the time you have it. Not later. Not when everything is done. Now.
Don't underestimate the relationships you have spent years cultivating. Whether you did a single act of kindness years ago, or you frequently check in on a person. People remember. You'll remember them, too. And in your darkest hours, you will be surprised with who comes out of the woodwork to carry you through it. So be kind, always. People won't always be kind towards you. And that's okay. You can't change them. YOU can only change yourself.
Failure is only a concept and a narrative in your head. You may have had to change the plan. You may have had to create something again from nothing. But it doesn't mean failure. It just means that goals have many different routes to take to get there - some are winding, some are long, some take you off a beaten path. But the end goal, if you're willing to see it through, will always be there.
Grief is a multi-layered animal and takes time to process. It takes humility. It takes surrendering. It takes self-care and giving yourself grace. And a lot of times, it takes a professional to help you through. There is no shame in asking for help if it means that you will come out stronger.
Your boundaries that you set for yourself are direct representations of how much you love yourself. I can guarantee you if you have broken your own boundaries (and you don't feel good about it), a conversation with yourself is needed. You would be surprised about where you rank yourself according to the level of importance.
The more you put meaning into the struggles, the less likely you will be able to see it for what it is. Acknowledge it. Let yourself feel (i.e. be angry, be sad, be frustrated). Then move on.
You are not your situation. You are not your circumstance. You are not your excuses. You are not your parents. You are not your past self. You are only you right now and forward is the only place you can go. You can choose everything. You are lucky. You do have everything you need. You are capable of getting what you don't have.
Love always wins. Love. Will. Always. Win.
As always, I want to take this opportunity as well to express gratitude to those who have made this year a little less jarring and a little more bearable. Gratitude is a practice and I intend on exercising it regularly, and I encourage you all to, too.
My team -- There are few people in the world that can say that they lucked out when they hired their team and I happen to be one of those people. My team gives me assurance, resilience, clarity, and comfort. This year, more than ever, I was reminded of why I focus so much on my team culture and pour my heart into lifting them up. Because they lifted me up and carried me through some of the hardest days of my life. Please know that if I am not expressing my gratitude well, it's only because it transcends words.
My industry friends -- Being an entrepreneur can be lonely, taxing, exhausting, and stressful. Having friends in the industry, who have turned into family, has helped beyond measure. Thank you for always thinking about me and supporting me.
My clients -- The patience and kindness that these people have shown me is overwhelming, and I wanted to acknowledge how much it has meant to me. From the condolences to the blind trust to the understanding that we are all human just trying to make it in the world -- I want you to know that this is the real reason why I remained an entrepreneur for over 15 years and a wedding planner for close to 13 years of that. You are only as talented as those who believe in you. My thanks to you and I am committed to making 2021 even better.
My family and friends -- You were my first fans and this year, your unwavering support has shown me that you have never stopped believing that I can make entrepreneurship work - even in the face of a pandemic. Even if I had to pivot what seemed like a BILLION times. Even when I wanted to get permission to give up - you all refused to give it. Thanks for not listening to my stubborn, complaining ass.
My husband -- We went through a war (that doesn't seem to be over yet) and there are few people I would have wanted to get into the trenches with. Even though sometimes I wanted to kill you (and vice versa), I'm proud of our ability to always come back to each other. I promise I'll always find my way back to you.
My dad -- I've always said that if it wasn't for you, there would be none of this. Thank you for the lessons in both life and business, but moreover, for the spirit. To me, you're not gone because I feel you in my soul in every turn I make. You're here, always, and you'll always show me the way.
Now please, for the love of all things holy -- drink up and kill it in 2021. If for no one else, do it for me. I'll still be here. We'll still be doing weddings. We're still celebrating. We'll still plan the shit out of your events. Because that's what we do, that's what we're good at, and that's all we can do -- move forward.
I'll see you on the other side,