I'm about to get real here: 2015 scared the shit out of me. It's going down in history as one of the most significant years of my life. I don't often post my personal triumphs or tribulations socially (just professional ones) but I think reflecting on my year is therapeutic and who knows, you might relate as a fellow business owner, creative, friend, sister, daughter, griever or lover.
I just wrapped up my second year as an entrepreneur. I was able to permanently leave my other career in April to pursue this business exclusively, which is my greatest accomplishment to date. I work from home, usually in my robe, and watch a lot of Netflix. My team had 20 weddings this year which is CRAZY but it was surprisingly easy to manage. While quantity isn't a great measure of success in my industry, the average planner books 8-10 weddings in their second year so it gives you an idea of our growth. My fees are in line with the top planners in my market so I'm not undercutting anyone either. Things are simply taking off.
Of course, like all other entrepreneurs I know, I often feel like a fraud. I have panic attacks when I question whether I actually know what I'm doing. The feeling is fleeting though as I remind myself that my team is professional and talented, our systems are more streamlined and sophisticated than ever before, our passion has not faltered and our energy is contagious. We're already half way to our booking goal of 30 weddings in 2016 and we are still at the beginning of the booking season.
In summary, business is really good. My personal life? Not so much.
One year ago today, I was hungover in Santa Monica, California with my best friend as we rode on a tandem bicycle down the Los Angeles coast line. We had spent New Years Eve bar hopping with new friends, drinking dollar champagne and dancing down Santa Monica Boulevard. We had arrived in San Francisco on Christmas Eve and would work our way down the coast over a 2 week period.
That trip marked a huge shift in our lives. We vowed to pursue our dreams instead of getting trapped in dead-end careers. She wanted to be a sommelier. I wanted to be self-employed. We both wanted to travel and ride motorcycles all over the country.
So I quit my job in April and finally became self-employed, and she quit a couple months later and started her sommelier courses. I picked out her motorcycle in July. We were really making it happen.
At the beginning of August, we met for manicures and lunch and we celebrated our progress. We discussed what our next steps were and where our next adventures would take us. I took pictures of her driving away from the restaurant on her motorcycle, and I was left standing there with a huge sense of accomplishment and pride.
Ten days later, she died in a tragic motorcycle accident. I spoke at her funeral. I got drunk on the martinis served at her wake. Her manicure was still perfect as I held her hand and said my goodbyes in the hospital.
As I reflect on the last few years leading up to 2015, I realize that I put all of my energy into building a rewarding career; however, I was intentionally distancing myself from emotional situations and I actively avoided anything that made me feel vulnerable. Her death was the first of many emotional experiences I had to face this year, and it sucked. Hard.
As embarrassed as I am to admit it, I was also in a very unhealthy relationship for most of the year that I was sacrificing too much for. It was confusing, distracting and caused me a great deal of stress. None of my family or friends supported the relationship, but I didn't take their advice as I should have. I also wasn't financially prepared for my first winter of being fully self-employed, which was particularly terrifying. It was as though my personal life was unravelling rapidly, and the one person who could help me escape was gone.
By November, I was emotionally drained and completely defeated. I was ashamed of my failing relationship and I thought I was going to lose my home because I didn't have any bookings for 2016. I felt afraid, which is a very foreign feeling to me as I'm naturally a strong, optimistic person. However, after countless lectures from a number of very concerned friends and a couple self-help books, I began to understand a VERY difficult concept for me: vulnerability is healthy.
I am happily single now. I've joined a gym, started cooking for myself again and regained control of my finances. I booked 10 weddings in the first two weeks of December alone. I was published in my first magazine. I've been actively taking strides to strengthen my relationship with my family after having been distant from them while I've been going through all of this mess. My brother and his girlfriend also gave birth to a beautiful baby boy and I already can't wait to spoil him and love him.
I have experienced more pain, sadness, confusion and anger this year than any other point in my life. I have had to face everything that makes me feel fear, shame, regret and disappointment. I have dealt with grief for the first time. My friendships have been tested and threatened more than ever. It's been an emotional year, that's for sure. And yet somehow, I'm still here. My personal relationships are stronger and more fulfilling than ever before. Even after being dealt all these blows, I actually feel more whole.
The idea that being vulnerable can make me a stronger woman is a confusing concept for me to accept. Opening myself up to emotional experiences scares the shit out of me and makes me very uncomfortable, but I guess that's part of the personal growth process. 2016 will be the year I find balance between professional achievement and personal growth. I have no idea where to start, but I think I'm on the right path now. It took a year of grief and exhaustion, but I know now that I need to face feelings rather than avoid them. And if I stray, I have a solid group of friends ready to bitch-slap me back on track.
Overall, I say PEACE OUT 2015!