I’m Florence, a Stanford grad living in San Francisco. I’m also 1 out of the millions of Americans laid off due to the COVID-19 outbreak. I can’t begin to describe the identity crisis that ensued shortly after my call with HR in March 2020. Me? Laid off from a job where I was routinely lauded as a high performer? I’ve never been without a job since I graduated in 2010 and so it all seemed unbearably unfair. Add on social isolation and being away from my family and I had the perfect recipe for depression. As you can imagine I spent the first half of the pandemic feeling sorry for myself in my overpriced apartment that I could no longer afford.
Until one day I decided that being sad about something I could not control was not me, not the me that’s actually my ego, but the true me: my higher self. After many hours of mindful and self-compassion meditation, I finally decided to view my situation as an opportunity, rather than an unfortunate circumstance, and that’s when I really started to bloom. A large part of my depression was the fact that I didn’t feel industrious anymore. I wasn’t contributing to an enterprise or adding value anywhere, so I decided that I would create my own “enterprise” to add value to.
During a time when many small businesses are closing and huge corporate entities are thriving, I dared to start up my own small business. FloetryShoppe, an Etsy store, is “a whimsical shoppe where you'll find giftable treasures such as handmade pet clothing, self-care items, and household goods.” It’s in FloetryShoppe that I found my confidence again and discovered talents and passion that I never knew I had. For example, I love to sew. My mother taught me how and so it’s a skill that has immeasurable sentimental value. I went on a limb and spent $200 of my unemployment funds to buy a sewing machine. I went from sewing simple child masks to professional quality dog collared shirts. Unequivocally, the store had solved at least one of my issues, which was not feeling useful. All of a sudden my creative and business skills needed to come together, and just like that, I felt strong again.
I continued to work on FloetryShoppe in spite of warnings from my building that legal action against my unpaid rent would be taken soon. As a result my capacity to create flourished in all areas of my life. I felt ready to start interviewing again. I interviewed and interviewed and interviewed. I weathered the rejections, learned from my interviewing errors, course corrected, and finally landed a job at the right level and in an industry I am proud to contribute to. Is this a plug for my store? Yes and no. I would love for you to visit my store of carefully handcrafted items! However, this is also a story about how I found myself again.
I think a lesson most of us have gleaned from 2020 is that life is unpredictable. I personally learned that material wealth can come and go in an instant, that having solid friendships can make or break you, and that one’s higher self is superior to the egoic mind. Am I glad this pandemic happened? Absolutely not. But, I’m glad I listened to my inner being during the most turbulent of times, and guided myself to greener pastures. If I can do it, trust me, you can, too.