I am going on week 2 of mandatory social distancing, a term I had never in my life thought to use before COVID-19 ran through our collective lives like a runaway freight train. I am sure you have all had your fill of talking heads predicting our doom and destruction. You may have even had enough of all the super optimism reminding you of all the ways you might find the silver linings. I know I have. If you are like me, neither pessimist nor optimist, just a realist with very real problems, you might want to have a conversation about the immediate impact this is having on your lives. I know I would like to have a moment of truth. But I feel guilty laying my burdens down. I feel it is my civic duty to jump on the optimism band wagon. I keep leaping, but I continue to fall short.
So I am going to be very real and honest right now. I want to give you permission to do the same. Feel free to lay it all out in comments here if you wish.
I am terrified. Not of getting sick. Not even of my kids or my family getting sick. None of that has landed close enough to home to really sink in yet. I am terrified of failing all the people who depend on me to feed their children. I worry about the company I have worked so hard to build and the amazing women it supports. I worry that we will not recover from our indefinite forced closure of our brick and mortar shop. I see our internet sales dropping like a rock from the cancellation of orders because dance studios are closed and competitions have been scraped. I am reminded how many of my people live paycheck to paycheck, with just exactly enough on that slip of paper to pay their rent, feed their children, and keep the lights on. Unemployment does not cover that full amount. A possible check from the government may or may not show up, and may or may not come in time. I am not sure what an SBA loan is supposed to do if the future hold very little way of paying it back, with interest.
It is hard to find the silver lining when the economic victims of this virus are not abstract, but very real people who I love and care about. I don't know how we are going to make it through this unscathed. I do know that I am going to fight for those I love with every last ounce of ingenuity I can pull from my shaken brain. I know that if I can find a way to keep us all afloat, I am going to do so. I also know that I am not the only leader of a small business who is kept up all night, worrying about the fate of her team. It is some small comfort to know that I am not alone.
I would like to encourage all of you who can to take a look around you. Who depends on you for their livelihood? Do you have employees? Housekeepers or gardeners? Will your favorite Barista still be there when you are allowed back in? How about your hair stylist? If the pandemic has not affected your personal economic standing, what can you do to support those around you? Find out if your local small businesses are selling gift cards for future use, or doing curbside pick up for phone or internet orders. Pay your housekeeper even when you ask them not to come. Put out a post to encourage the waiters in your hometown and let them know you are thinking of them. I am. I am thinking of all of them, and hoping we all find a way to make it through the uncertainty with our sanity intact.