I can hear its threatening breath just outside. Yup, April is on our doorstep. Any moment now, it will try to blow my house down. To distract myself from the shockingly swift passing of time, and the shockingly uncertain times we STILL find ourselves in, I look for small mercies in the chaotic crockpot of my day-to-day. My business is turning four in April. I feel absolutely privileged and grateful that I can still use those three little words in the present tense: “My business is…”. Like thousands of small businesses in South Africa (and around the world!), my humble solopreneurship struggled to stay afloat in the throws of an unimaginably harsh, stormy year. Every time I hear about a fellow small (or even big, seemingly secure and stable!) business closing their doors, I do two things: Weep for the people who lost their livelihoods, and thank my lucky stars that it didn’t just happen to me. There but by the grace of God, go I…
It has been a little over a year since SA went into our first hard lockdown. A year where Uncertainty has been ever-present, lurking behind us in the shadows. A year spent in survival mode.
There is nothing “normal” about survival mode. We don’t think of normal things or process these thoughts like our normal selves. Some of us grasp at straws and hope and lifeboats like madmen: Driven by a desperate urge to just keep afloat. Others disappear deep into ourselves: Perhaps if we hide out long enough, quietly enough, the Boogeyman will simply pass us by. And of course, many of us jump back and forth between these two contrasting coping mechanisms: One moment frothing at the mouth like a lunatic, the next, lying in the fetal position, withering away in the shadows.
Both “normal” reactions, of course, even though the circumstances that warranted them, aren’t.
When reflecting on my own Jekyll-and-Hyde-approach to survive this drawn-out trauma, I notice some unpremeditated self-destruction taking place:
In an attempt to survive the war, seemingly unimportant sources of joy are cast aside like cannon fodder. It’s important to travel light in times like these, you see. No time or mind-space to waste on things like self-gratification, self-care, self-esteem. Finish the task at hand and swiftly move on to the next one. No pause for reflection or celebration.
This is exactly what I did last year, when my business turned three (and with many, many other accomplishments and victories thereafter). The world was locked down and the Big Bad Wolf was bellowing at my door. I thought (remember what I said about “thinking” in survival mode???) that if I stopped - even for a moment - and just revelled in this milestone, that surely my house would get blown down.
Well, not this year.
This year, I will bake myself a two-tier, dark chocolate cake, smothered in a mix of caramel and sour cream. I will light four candles and sing happy birthday to my business. I will pat myself on the back. I might even shed a tear. But one thing is for certain: I will stuff my face with that cake like a prize porker, because I deserve it.
Hip-hip-hooray! Hip-hip-hooray to surviving survival mode. To still standing. To those who have fallen and just keep getting up. Hip-hip-hooray to celebrating the small things. Things that bring you peace, healing and joy. Hip-hip-hooray to yourself! All of you, even Hyde, hiding in the corner with that crazed look in his eyes…
To further celebrate my fourth birthday, practically everything in my online shop is on sale for the whole month of April!