I am, once again, downsizing my business. The first downsize happened at the end of 2021, and that one was entirely against my will. I owned an online baby boutique that sold not only the country’s top brands in the baby market, but was also the exclusive home of my line of luxury diaper bags and handbags called LYMIA BRAND.
My business boomed during COVID-19. I managed to escape the fate of many small businesses during that time because I was in a very niche market that provided things that all parents who were locked in their homes with their kids really needed. But by the end of 2021, the economy had tanked and people just weren’t spending like they were during lockdowns. I fought the good fight, but eventually, I had to be realistic about things. The only way to weather the storm and hopefully save my business was to move out of my 4,000 square foot warehouse, notify my employees that they had a window of time to find employment, and take over most of the day-to-day activities of running the business.
In the years since then, my life has changed a lot. I went through a marriage separation, then six months later, a marriage reconciliation. My kids grew out of diapers and started elementary school. I moved. Wrote a book and sold it to a publisher. Started blogging. Began using my platform to discuss women’s issues outside of new motherhood and taking care of babies. Found new hobbies and moved on from others.
I am an entirely different person than I was in 2016 when I started by business.
And now, with all these new interests and opportunities, I don’t feel the same passion for my business as I used to. I am not very relatable to new moms now that I am so far removed from that time of my life. I am not knowledgeable about trending things in the Mommy-sphere like I used to be. And frankly, after spending the past seven years enmeshed in my “new mom” identity, I’m just ready to experience and express other parts of myself—the parts of my identity I had to suppress while I had babies at home.
So, the downsizing I’m doing now is entirely voluntary. I’m choosing to make my business fit into the space I have available for it right now, instead of letting it grow and take over the spaces of my life that I want to focus on.
I feel good about that!
And yet, there is grief.
Does this mean that I failed?
Was it all for nothing?
What was the point of it all, if not to become my career and legacy?
Even though I am choosing this, these questions still haunt me.
I often think about how significantly COVID-19 shutdowns changed my brain chemistry. In the years since it first landed stateside, I have fallen apart more than once. I’ve dedicated myself to the careful task of putting myself back together, only to see it all topple over again. I’ve picked up the pieces once more and reassembled them as best I could.
Was I really expecting all the pieces to fit back together exactly the way they were before?
It’s completely normal for our interests and passions to change. Life is meant to evolve. We are meant to evolve. And when we evolve, so do the things that bring us joy and fulfillment.
Why do we treat this like it’s a failure?
Not to pick on influencer culture (a culture I consider myself adjacent to), but I think a lot of our problem when it comes to releasing things that no longer provide what they once did is because normal things no longer seem normal. Influencer culture, in its efforts to be family- and brand-friendly, often has to be brimming over with positivity. It shows us only the wins, entirely rug-sweeping the normal and typical human experiences that every human has. It shows us a picture of idealism to which we can’t help comparing ourselves, and we often find ourselves not measuring up.
Of course, influencer culture can’t be entirely blamed. After all, there is an ever-growing cohort of “de-influencers” who focus exclusively on transparency, openness, and relatability. There are also many other culprits. That said, I can’t help thinking that as our time spent on social media increases, our knowledge of what is “normal” gets warped and even lost.
Let’s normalize normal things.
Grief around the end of anything that once brought you joy is normal.
It is normal to feel relief when those things end, too, sometimes even while the grief is still there.
It is normal to move on from things as our interests and personalities evolve, and that doesn’t mean they failed. Or that we failed.
It is normal to have complicated emotions about complicated things, like downsizing a business, getting divorced, or changing careers.
I’m writing this mostly for myself, as I need this reminder often. But I’m hopeful it will find the people who need it as much as I do.
Normal is normal.
You are normal.
This is normal.
It’s normal for things to end.
And it’s normal to have mixed feelings about that.
It’s all going to be okay, babe.
Amber Wardell is a doctor of psychology and author who speaks on women’s issues related to marriage, motherhood, and mental health. Subscribe to the free newsletter to get exclusive content delivered to your inbox and to never miss an upload.