How was I supposed to grow a business during a global pandemic while living in a foreign country? (I focused on impact and service to others and it sort of worked out.)
When Carol Azams reached out to me in May and asked me to write a 1000 word piece on my Covid Lockdown story for her book, I was pretty uncomfortable. I don’t consider myself a writer but I do enjoy sharing my thoughts with the world. I was in a negative mental state, stuck in Tokyo and unable to see my family and friends for a year and a half at that point and I was OVER IT. I was nervous to share my life and thoughts so openly.
But, alas… I sat down and wrote. It was cathartic, actually.
Here’s is the draft I submitted. The book has recently been published so if you’d like to order the book and hear another 100+ stories, you can follow this link HERE.
Lockdown. It sounds so ominous. It sounds so… Confining. Stifling.
Covid to me has meant many “downs.” Downplay. Cut Down. Hunker Down. Melt Down. Buckle Down. Calm Down. Double Down.
I recall seeing videos and reports out of China in January of 2020 that seemed like something pretty major was coming, but no one was taking it seriously. Downplay. Quieted voices of those on ground zero of the world’s newest pandemic. Living in Tokyo in a Culture of mask wearers who have little physical contact (bows and nods replace handshakes), it seemed like business as usual. After all, the Olympics were scheduled to come, subways were still packed, and bars and clubs stayed crowded and bustling until 5am… as usual.
You see, Tokyo doesn’t have a real “lockdown.” They have state of emergency and levels of such. They have “recommendations” and “strong advice” and vaguely worded warnings and requests for “less” activities socially. Those progressed to stronger recommendations and soon, guidelines… for people to Cut Down on their social activities and working in offices. This lack of true ‘lockdown’ status has undoubtedly caused confusion and allowed cases to rise. The Olympics were finally postponed and we all took a collective sigh of relief that Tokyo wouldn’t be flooded with thousands of tourists spreading Covid. Around the same time came the travel restrictions which were not rolled out consistently or fairly. Japanese Nationals were allowed to travel in and out of Japan, but Foreign Residents were subject to impossible to overcome re-entry conditions. Thousands of foreign workers were suddenly barred from seeing their loved ones, their children, or their parents. Meanwhile, on Facebook our friends would post about traveling internationally for vacations, while the rest of us were held captive to our apartments, oblivious to our pain and stress.
We took the pandemic seriously and stayed home. We ordered groceries and food for delivery. We accepted finding a way to both work from home. Netflix replaced restaurants and sightseeing. It didn’t seem worth the risk… so we decided to Hunker Down. We felt guilty for even accepting this assignment for my husband’s job in Tokyo, for abandoning our kids and family and friends. Had we known we wouldn’t see anyone for 18-20 months, I don’t think we ever would done this move. Our next priority was finding a way to get home and close to loved ones. In the meantime, I leaned in to my business supporting small business owners, helping them with hours of free advisory services on how to pivot to keep their livelihoods, their dreams, and everything they’ve worked so hard and sacrificed everything for alive.
As a Myers Briggs ENFP (with 68% F) I feel EVERYTHING and the weight of trying to support all of these people who were struggling with their businesses, one after the after, crying as they grapple with everything that is at stake for their families, their employees, and their communities, started to take its toll. The daily doldrums of sitting inside and working until 4am to accommodate time zones and waking early to catch east coast meetings started to take its toll. The lack of clarity and back and forth of sorting out the ridiculously complicated process to move back to the US, on top of the stress of an endless to-do list, took a toll… I had a monumental Melt Down. I had let my health go, lost track of the days of the week, and ate my feelings. Every. Single. One. 🙂
I’ve had melt downs before. I could generally feel them coming and proactively address them by receiving support from friends, family, or my therapist. But this time, I struggled much longer than I needed to for one simple reason: I didn’t feel like it was right for me complain. I thought, what kind of entitled bitch am I if I vent or complain about my situation when we’re so fortunate, and people are literally dying by the thousands, when loved ones aren’t even able to say goodbye due to quarantines, when businesses are failing, and families are left struggling both financially and emotionally. I kept telling myself that I was fine and all I needed to do was Buckle Down. I put all my energy into helping small business owners whether they could afford me or not – I figured that was the best use of my time and energy, instead of worrying about “the money” or growing ProfitLogics®.
The pressure built and I wasn’t sleeping. I was leaving it all out on the field pouring into others, then screaming at my husband, and then crying about it. I made an appointment with my doctor and started balling 5 seconds into my visit. Full of guilt and embarrassment, I told her, “I thought I was tougher than this. I thought I had things under control. I’ve been through way more than this and overcome a ridiculous amount of adversity, but I’m faltering.” I finally got help for my anxiety and sleep issues, and started virtual therapy sessions. I slowly, eventually, as pieces of our move back home starting coming together and found a way to Calm Down, and I started sleeping again.
It was soon after that my fire to grow my business came back… I found inspiration and energy to roll out new offerings that were more affordable and accessible to the people I want to help, but it was a lot of work and hours invested. I also decided to Double Down on my business and start my life’s dream years ahead of schedule… I started my nonprofit organization to make professional services that are critical to small business survival and growth more accessible. And, now we are just 16 days from our flights to move back to USA.
As Japan grapples with increasing cases and logistics issues with getting vaccines out, we are excited to get home, quarantine, and get vaccinated… and finally reconnect and rebuild.
Susan Fessenden, Founder ProfitLogics® and creator of The 5 Missing Pieces™ to business growth.
So there you go. Now we are finally back in the US, settled in Virginia Beach. We’ve gotten our vaccinations and much needed quality time with most close family and friends. And now, we are rebooting ProfitLogics®, our Facebook Group Happy Businessing™ and my live-streamed shows. It’s soooo good to be back.
Now it’s time for another “down”… Getting DOWN to business!
Are you ready to grow a business or start a business, or is your business stuck? Please reach out… I offer small business advice via an advisory call for FREE, I give discounts to fit budgets, and I’m here to help.