I've been mulling something over in my head for a long time. It's been almost a year, really. Last year at this time, my very sick relative moved in here. Shortly thereafter, business which had been roaring along and gaining speed just grabbed a spot and stayed there. Didn't drop (thank goodness!), but the growth I projected didn't happen either.
Somewhere in the dark of winter, I noticed that I was not spending any time writing to my business or personal friends - something that had always been the most joyful part of my day. Instead of putting an hour or two a day into spirited, stimulating email volleys filled with ideas and challenges, I was reading what came in and clicking "save as new", hoping to get to it when I had the energy. Eventually, I would set aside a day to call and apologize to several of my friends, thinking that the whole problem was me, or the different energy in my home. Invariably, I would find that the person on the other end of the phone was in the same place... lethargic, listless, feeling dull and out of ideas. Sometimes even feeling like any effort was useless or futile. More than once, my old cheerleader hat would come out during a call, and I would remind them that they shouldn't give up because everything is temporary.
Gradually, I've come to realize that there something going on in America's psyche. Is it more pronounced in small business owners? Maybe. Maybe not. My friends are small business owners, and they have it bad. For the last year, we've been thinking that there is something wrong with US. Although the economy is in ruins, our country is in a never-ending war, we've just gone through a harrowing election campaign that pitted friends and lovers against each other, and long-standing businesses of every ilk are falling day by day, somehow we still ignore that and think that WE are alone in this feeling of depression. How did that happen?
For one, as business owners, we've been trained to put on a brave face right up until the ship goes under. We don't talk publicly of our woes. A sniff of a problem can sink a company, so we are alone. We are alone, and all the other businesses are crowing about how well they are doing (while we secretly suspect that they are crowing in the dark).
For another, most of the women I know accept full responsibility for anything that happens in their business. Succeed or fail, it is our own doing, right girls? Well... sometimes we just can't control everything or shoulder all the blame. Sometimes we just have to ride it out and see which way the wind blows.
So I posted about this insidious, low-level energy infection on The Essential Herbal's Yahoo! list yesterday, and was gratified to find that several list members were suffering in silence, and thrilled to find they were not alone. It has prompted me to share it here. Best of all, I feel the clouds shifting. I don't know what the future holds, but I do know that I don't have to carry it all by myself. And I also get that people aren't ready to lay down and give up.
I don't know how or why, but I am optimistic for 2009. I'm either crazy, a small business owner, or both :-).