Column: Oh, it’s all so easy for you…

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2020 is a historical year. The year we learned how important personal relationships are. The year we didn’t travel. The year we learned to breathe and speak through mouth and nose masks. In the future most of us will think back at 2020 as an annus horribilis. The year we had to stop working in offices, refrain from meeting others, shops had to close and we learned to run our households with less money. 

When everything fell apart

On March 13th my schedule until July was filled with 30 projects. Business events, interviews, consultancy jobs,… By the end of the government’s press conference that announced a full lockdown that night, my agenda was empty. More than 20 emails to cancel jobs and projects. I was shocked, confused and angry. How could they freeze our whole economy and expect us to stay at home… doing nothing? The ‘doing nothing’ part was the easy one. I could catch up on some sleep. The other part ‘losing money’ was a greater issue. How were we going to keep this family afloat with zero income? How long would we be able to live of our savings? How long was this lockdown and pandemic going to rule our world?

By the end of 2019 my revenue numbers were up with 30%. I was thrilled to start 2020 as ‘my’ year. Little did I know 2020 was going to be the year of losing 100K in revenue. Two weeks later after recovering from a full denial, early April, I got my act together. Covid19 was here and here to stay. The constant in this equation was not going to ruin my world. I gave myself two weeks to think of something to do and start to get my sanity back. Between home schooling, being home all the time with everyone, breaking habits etc it was rough, but we managed. I cannot express how proud I am of our children for not complaining once and managing to finish, all four of them their schoolyear with brio. 

When everything came back together

I started to work again, very few days in comparison to 2019 but I was happy. I created my own show on Facebook and interviewed entrepreneurs and business owners about how they managed during the lockdown. Twice a week I gave them a platform to tell their story.

By the end of August we told 40 unique and authentic stories. I went back to school and enrolled an online master degree in Sustainability. I met great new people online and offline, made new friends, lost old friends, launched a new sustainability program, dreamed of launching a new magazine. But I kept going, real hard, no mercy, as Covid 19 had no mercy on us. I didn’t feel sorry for myself, I fought back, ran, jumped, enjoyed myself. I worked for free to help companies with their business. You see, just because I could.

Sometimes every once in a while when you give, out of the kindness of your heart, you receive a multitude back. And I receive so much since then. Yes, I was sad, cried, denied, but I never lost faith. I changed my mindset from always seeing possibilities to never be a quitter. Covid 19 wasn’t going to break me. I shared my views on social media, motivated people, made them realize that even in the hardest of times there is always hope. 

Stop confusing having an opinion with the right to bully people

But this winners mentality made some people uncomfortable. I got a message that it was all so ‘easy’ for me. That I had to look around me and see real pain, suffering and heartache. I got accused of turning a blind eye to people with real problems. I was flabbergasted.

Me, the one who was helped people with finding the right financial help in the beginning of the pandemic. Me, the one grounded home and banned from hosting events until probably the fall of 2021. Me, the one who lost 100k in revenue and living of her savings. Me, the one who shared 40 interesting and beautiful stories of entrepreneurs was being bullied for having a positive mindset? Accused of having a ‘Marie Antoinette mentality’ and just ignoring reality and maybe giving the masses cake? This is wrong. So very wrong, hurtful, unfair and sad. Not only because it is false, but also because yes, I rarely complain about the shitty stuff in my life. About going bankrupt once, having to deal with a divorce, giving birth alone, losing my business, my house,…

I was so angry when this remark hit me that I took the time to answer to this bully in detail. My normal self would never mind this kind of narrow way of thinking but now with this pandemic it made me feel violated. After careful consideration, I think the bully realized she made unsubstantiated comments and assumptions and apologized. But harm was done. I was hurt and it felt as if I was a disgrace for seeing beauty in darkness. 

Live is still beautiful 

I never feel sorry for myself and I never let my spirit go down even when dealing with horrible circumstances. I keep helping others, I will keep motivating others even if I don’t feel any energy myself. Because I know by experience there is always sunshine behind even the darkest storm. I refuse to let this pandemic stopping me from doing great things. I even see it as an opportunity to make a difference and to lead by example. The art of business making changed the passed months but I believe vehemently this society will flourish again. Maybe we will come back to the essence of life. Making memories with the people we love, making every live count and make sure our lives will be more inclusive and fair.  

My two 2 cents of advice

Never lose faith, never give up and never think this is the end. Good times will come back. Always have a plan B and even a plan C. At best you won’t need B or C. WWI and the Spanish flu brought the roaring 20s. Covid 19 will bring us together again.  2020 is hard, I will never deny that. We lost too much important people to us to just give up. I am so proud of how my family is dealing with emotional issues, limited freedom of movement, solitude and the whole downside of these lockdowns. Today most of us still don’t complain, keep on doing what they can to make it work and keep the faith that better days are coming. Never let negativity get the better of you. Always ‘Keep calm and carry on’.

This article has been written by @VALERIE THYS

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