The dragonfly symbolizes wisdom, change, transformation, and adaptability in life. Let it serve as a reminder to do and surround yourself with things that bring your life light and joy.
It was March of 2020. With the new year, I had launched a whole new brand for my wedding planning business, and things were really starting to pick up. Inquiries were coming in almost daily, I had a full schedule, and in just a few weeks' time I would be officially hiring on four new planners to start taking clients of their own. It was the culmination of over a year of careful planning, intentional networking, and pushing myself to my limits. Finally, it was starting to unfold, and the pride I felt for what I had built was indescribable. And then, suddenly, we were forced into quarantine.
There's never a good time for a global pandemic to take over our lives, but in the moment I was convinced the timing could not have been worse for me. Everything I had been working towards came to a crashing halt. It was just starting, how could this happen now? All of my existing leads dropped. One by one, my upcoming weddings postponed or canceled. My employment contracts with my new planners were never signed. It was devastating. The wedding industry was hit hard by COVID, and my heart was breaking with every couple that had to make these tough decisions. By mid-April, I found myself struggling not just with the business, but with my mental health. I was lying awake every night with so many thoughts and concerns racing through my head. On April 30th, I decided to close Bloom With Us' doors.
The next few weeks were some of the darkest I've ever had. I was questioning everything. I was facing some very unexpected backlash from people I had once considered friends. My husband, family, and closest friends were so supportive, and I will be forever grateful for that, but I still felt so alone. My heightened anxiety around the virus and isolation from two months of quarantine certainly weren't helping the situation either. I also wanted to honor my existing contracts, so any energy I did have was being put into helping my couples with their postponements – a new challenge none of us have had to navigate before (though now I am, unfortunately, a pro). I would spend hours going through images from past weddings, reading my old reviews, experiencing a grief I couldn't explain. I was angry, I was depressed, and above all I felt like a failure.
"You will be back and better than ever!" "You're so talented, you won't let that go to waste!" "You can do it!" These are the messages that changed everything for me, but not for the reasons you may think. In fact, I hated these messages. Of course I can do it. I just did it. I didn't close my business out of a lack of confidence. The question was – what if I don't want to do it again? I had spent a lot of time reliving 2019, wallowing in sorrow about all of the weddings I wouldn't get to work in 2020. But I also realized everything I missed. Time with family. Weekends with my husband. Home-cooked meals and a tidy home. In my excitement and dedication to building Bloom With Us, I had neglected every other aspect of my life. Suddenly I was starting to regret putting my all into the new brand, not because it didn't make it, but because there are so many other more important pieces to enjoying life. I let myself cry and feel the pain and mourn the loss of something that my existence had revolved around for so long, but I also let myself be more present in life itself. It didn't happen over night, but with time I was becoming more and more certain that I had made the right decision.
I started cooking more, binge-watched The Home Edit and reorganized every corner of our house, and spent intentional time with my husband and pugs. I allowed myself to stop thinking about what was "next", or what could have been, and slowly but surely I felt like myself again. After a few weeks of letting go, I felt completely renewed – and ready to be creative again. I have always loved the pretty little details of a wedding day, and one of the reasons I got involved in the wedding industry was how much I enjoyed making my own wedding invitations over five years ago. I'd put so much effort into the planning side of the business, stationery had become an afterthought to me. Reading messages from past couples, I realized that I was able to make an impact through design alone. And so, the Paperie was born.
We have all had to adapt and learn to live in this new coronavirus world together. I think the dragonfly is a beautiful symbol of what this past year represents. We've learned, we've changed, we've overcome. My priorities completely shifted, and I feel like the me one year ago was so different from the me today. I guess because it wasn't me then. It was an overworked, overextended version of myself that I hope to never be again. The worst part of it was that I didn't even know. I wish it hadn't taken a global pandemic to wake me up, but here we are.
If there had never been a lockdown, if things went to plan, I don't even know where I would be today. I was so burnt out and so oblivious to that fact that Bloom With Us may never have made it anyway. At least not in the capacity I had hoped. That's a sad, scary thought, but it was one that was worth having as I started thinking through this new venture. I've allowed myself to really take my time with this, and now I'm itching to get back in the studio. I have always been a creative at heart, and while a part of me still feels like I could do more, the bigger (smarter) part is saying "but you don't have to".
2020 taught me self love. My mental health matters, it's okay to say no when my workload is piling up, there is nothing wrong with taking a day off. Setting boundaries is something I've clearly struggled with in the past, and I know it is going to be a learning process. But I also know that I will get there. Everyone has a 2020 story. It has changed each one of us in different ways, and I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to put a positive spin on everything that has happened for me. Here's to a new year. May you find your silver lining among the chaos.