Last week my friend and wonderful photographer, Katelyn Macmillan, asked her Instagram followers: what is something quarantine has taught you?
I pondered her question for awhile because I honestly hadn’t considered what time in quarantine had taught me. What new insight will I be walking away with? How has my mindset shifted?
I realized that I learned that productivity and success can be achieved outside of work, money, or visible growth.
For far too long (basically all of my life) I’ve measured success in obvious ways: good grades, winning a game, being elected President of a club, making honor roll, people’s praise, my number of social media likes and followers, number of product sales. The list could go on.
So when all of these measures of success were stripped away from me over the last 10 weeks, I had to reevaluate what success and productivity looks like. Once quarantine started, my sales drastically decreased and my social media reach went stagnant. Suddenly everything I was creating seemed to disappear into a void with no one to see it, hear it, read it or buy it.
This drastic change really took a toll on my self-esteem. For awhile I felt embarrassed that other businesses around me were growing while mine seemed to be deteriorating.
After a few weeks of feeling like this, I expressed to Zach how I was feeling. And in true Zach fashion, he reminded me of the truth. Of what Studio 46:10 stood for. To give glory to God in all that I do and to find my rest in Him. I started seriously contemplating this reminder: that my business isn’t about me but about encouraging and inspiring others to find their identity in Jesus.
Not in social media likes and followers. Not in external praise. Not in my number of sales.
The more I thought about what Zach said, the lighter I felt. A burden I didn’t realize I had been carrying was lifting off my shoulders. So often as a small business owner, we’re told we have to grind it out and have a 50-step plan to grow our business. And let me tell you, it’s exhausting living like that.
So, what would it look like if I stopped creating for growth and sales and started creating for myself and to encourage?
And that’s what I did.
I started exploring a new lettering style which caught the attention of many, including a large Christian social media platform (this secret project to be revealed soon). I decided to completely rebrand and rebuild my website so that my platform would be a fun and encouraging place to explore, read and shop. And when I launched my new website, the support came rolling in. I stopped “planning” my social media posts and just started sharing them as they were created which was a huge mental relief. I began to create multiple pieces (upwards of 10) a day without feeling the pressure to share, and that lifted my spirits.
Everything I’ve done during quarantine was never apart of my business growth plan. I never intended to change my lettering style or build a new website. And yet, that’s what happened and I feel that both myself and Studio 46:10 are better for it.
And as my mindset began to shift, I started to find productivity and measure success in other ways: making my bed everyday, having Zach come home to a cooked meal, going for long walks, talking on the phone once a day to a friend or family member, or reorganizing my apartment.
These seemingly mundane moments of life suddenly felt like achievements in an odd and confusing time.
I’ve learned that success and productivity have looked so different this season and not once was it founded on money, visible growth, or grinding it out. Instead, I have found success in contentment, joy, trust, patience, self-expression and peace. Even though all things in our lives and present circumstances are not good, good can come from all things.
So I ask, what is something quarantine has taught you?