“With every episode of struggle, there is a learning opportunity.” – Richard M. Schulze
It’s undoubtedly a strange time the world is facing. People are isolating themselves in an effort to slow the spread of the virus, businesses are closing down, and it seems like the entire world has been unified in a common goal. However, I believe that it is in these unprecedented times of uncertainty that individuals experience the most self-growth. For instance, the self-quarantine has made me fully appreciate the extent of what I had previously taken for granted. Now, everything has come to a stop. It is as if the population worldwide has reached a mutual consensus to pause “the game of life.” As a result, I believe that I, along with many others, am coming to realize the aspects of life that are truly important and distinguish them from the nonessentials. Material items and desires now seem insignificant in comparison to the circumstances we are suddenly forced to face. Although I am someone who is not very outspoken, I enjoy the company of others and draw energy from the support of my friends. Suddenly being unable to see and speak to them every day has made a stronger impact on me than I could have imagined. Even though we can send messages, organize calls, and provide comfort to each other, it does not feel the same as interacting face-to-face. To take care of ourselves, I believe that it is important to find other passions in which to dedicate time.
One of the interests I have been working on is my in-depth project. Evidently, not everything regarding my small business is occurring according to my initial vision. With all of the uneasiness present at this point in time, very few people are interested in turning their attention to online shops like my own. Because of this, my mentor, Sharon, has encouraged me to extend my business beyond the duration of my project, as she believes that it would be a valuable, successful, and enjoyable experience for me to further pursue and develop my talents in this field. Her unwavering support over the past few months has been priceless to me, and she continues to provide me with learning opportunities through her ideas and suggestions which stem from her personal experiences and the knowledge she has gained from interacting with other entrepreneurs. I am extremely grateful that we are able to stay in touch during these difficult times, as I realize this is a luxury many don’t have. Even if we are not discussing my in-depth project, her insight is inspiring and her caring, optimistic, and kind nature always consol me. Our conversations range from our daily lives and the struggles we are facing to topics like dancing and the importance of practice in maintaining a skill. In my opinion, it is important to have less formal interactions between mentor and mentee. If there’s anything I learned, it is that there is a need to forge real connections with people, even in the realm of business and marketing.
Over the past two weeks, I have maintained daily activity on my social media platforms, which has contributed to a steadily increasing group of followers. By sharing my current situation, documenting highlights of my day, and spreading hope, I have forged deeper connections with others. It always warms my heart when followers comment on my post expressing their encouragement and feedback. Sharon has also inspired me with her approach to interacting with her audience through social media. Just over a week ago, she shared the beautiful sight of her blooming orchid as a reminder to have hope. Several days ago, she began making and selling cotton facemasks to assist people in this time of need. She promises to donate a mask cover, scrub cap or buttoned headband to healthcare providers for every face mask sold on her website.
Currently, I have been working on improving my digital art in order to bring more accessible products like digital prints to my audience. This process is considerably different from translating ideas to paper with traditional mediums such as paint, pencil crayon, and markers. I am looking to become more familiar with using my screenless tablet and streamlining my process with regard to the layout of the drawing program I am using. I have been drafting designs in my sketchbook and scanning in sketches to colour in digitally, but I have definitely experienced a few setbacks. Personally, I find the number of keyboard shortcuts and various tools overwhelming, and I have encountered several challenges in illustrating my ideas on the tablet while looking at a different screen. However, I am seeing improvement and remain grateful that I am able to adapt my project according to the current circumstances.
Now more than ever, it is important to focus on our mental wellbeing and support one another through our shared challenges. Even with all of the negativity and uncertainty, it is crucial to be optimistic. If we try, we can find opportunities to learn and grow in any situation, including this one.