Oof. I was going to write about moving to full time entrepreneur, about how it’s taken time to recover from 12 years of working full time employed and shifting to working solely and entirely for myself.
I was going to go through the pluses (loads) and minuses (minimal, but there are some), and reflect that what I knew all along was accurate – I thrive on being self employed, and am much happier than when I work in an office, for someone else.
And then Covid-19 swept the world, and now change feels like such a small word to describe what I’m seeing and hearing every day.
As someone who never watches the news and doesn’t own a TV licence, it’s hard to explain the enormity of the impact this has had on me. I am now checking the news twice a day (just twice, mind) and it feels like I have woken up in a dystopian horror novel which isn’t even particularly well written.
From zero to full dystopian panic has taken what feels like moments, and in the grand scheme of things, it has escalated very quickly.
I am frightened for the health of my loved ones – my friends, my family, and especially those who are older, or immunocompromised, or who work on the front line in the NHS or elsewhere.
And there has been this instant, unprecedented (how I am coming to dislike that word!) decimation of my business and of almost everything I have worked for over the past ten years.
I am not alone – all around me small businesses, self employed friends and acquaintances, and artists of all kinds are crumbling under the onslaught – clients down to zero overnight, events cancelled, the rest of the world in panic and not spending (or at least not with us – perhaps we should have bought up some loo rolls!), isolation meaning we can’t meet in person to work and bounce things off each other as we usually would.
Yet I am fascinated at the same time as I am terrified. Watching the world adopt the ways of working I have long been an advocate for, en masse, in the space of just a few days, has been an incredible thing to witness.
Seeing people take to video conferencing and working from home, homeschooling and fitting in their office work at odd hours, hanging out with friends entirely online – and with the underlying infrastructure having been thrown together in a very short space of time – has been weird. But weird in a good way.
I’ve spent most of this week fielding calls from my friends – some devastated business owners, some needing tech advice, and some employed friends struggling with the culture and overnight change to working from home. Especially when working from home was very strongly discouraged or not allowed at all just a few short weeks ago.
Because I want to be able to see my Mum and Gran, I am isolating from everyone else. So far, this isn’t that big a deal – I have chatted with more people this week than I usually do in a month, including networking! But I can see the impact of living alone far more clearly than I ever have before, and there are so, so many things that we take for granted which I never will again.
Hugging the people I love, for starters. More frivolously, I usually spend the weeks before Easter buying Easter eggs instead of normal chocolate, because they taste better. Now I am eyeing up my actual Easter egg in a vaguely threatening manner…
I have seen people behave appallingly, but I have also seen an incredible pulling together of the small business community. Friendships and connections are being forged through change and trying times which have been thrust upon all of us without warning. And I can’t help but wonder what the world will look like when the crisis is over – it will be a changed world.
This too shall pass – I do believe it, though I think it will leave havoc in its wake, and I think that some changes will be permanent.