A few weeks ago I helped my aunt paint her spare bedroom. As we began to move things out of the room to paint, I noticed the fine layer of dust across the furniture, the rugs stuck to the floor where they had been weighed down for years, and the outlines left on the wall from paintings we removed. For over twenty years, this room seldom saw guests but instead functioned as a time capsule, holding newspaper clippings, hand-made blankets, jars of sea glass, and mementos from her life.
As we moved a two hundred pound file cabinet to the center of the room, I jokingly asked what she kept in it. When she reached in and pulled out a pile of papers to show me, I was surprised to see that among other documents she had kept cards, drawings, letters, and paintings I’d given her as a child. I laughed as I looked through them; in one letter I had written a poem about winter blues – which honestly wasn’t half bad. In another, I attached a picture of a chair I had painted, and in the background I saw my childhood bedroom, walls covered in drawings I’d done of things that had just popped into my head. On construction paper, I had made her a halloween card held together by hole-punched yarn ties, featuring a drawing of a ghost with a few punny lines. She turned it over and said “I don’t know why you drew this though” and showed me a simple crown drawn in red crayon, with “red crown” written below it. I smiled at the emblem as the memory of why came flooding back.
At 12 years old, I had decided to start my own greeting card company called Red Crown (not to be confused with “Gold Crown” by Hallmark; trademark infringement was not yet on my radar). I’d spend my days drawing cards and writing poems, giving them to family and friends with the red crayon emblem centered on the back. This was not my first business venture; I had also started a dog walking company, a custom welcome mat company (using a roll of black grip my dad had in the shed and glitter paints) and a babysitting company. For each I had created flyers which I hung on the bulletin board in the local Shaws, with phone number tabs available for potential customers to call my parents landline.
Thinking back on this, I couldn’t help but laugh to myself but also feel a little sad. That Amanda was not afraid of failure, she was confident in each fleeting company that was created, determined to succeed. While I understand that losing some of this is part of the process of growing up, I wondered if 12 year old Amanda would be proud of me and asked myself the question “How do I get that spark back?”
How do I get this back? How do I become the fearless, confident, driven person I want to be?As a woman in my late 20’s, things aren’t as black and white as they once were; I make small sacrifices daily as my goals take precedent over my dreams. I succumb to office politics and societal norms, still striving to be strong in my stance on certain things, but I often find myself overthinking decisions and letting others influence my self worth. And I’m tired of it. I want to put my all into things, confident and determined even when it doesn’t work out exactly how I planned.
I’m not going to pretend I have all the answers, but as the world comes to a halt during this pandemic and we’re forced to slow down and spend time with ourselves, a lot of us will begin to reflect. And that’s exactly what this thought was; the realization that somewhere along the line the entrepreneurial spark I had to do big things and change the world was dimmed, and now that I’m aware of it, I’m focused on bringing it back to life.
As we prepare for the unexpected as COVID-19 halts our nation in its tracks, we are being forced to slow down. To stop and actually breath, to think about each other, ourselves, and to help our community by staying at home. I plan to dig out the good in this situation and use this time to reflect and grow. I plan to re-light the fire that has been dimmed by small, seemingly unimportant moments that over time suffocated this flame, making it much weaker than it’s potential. I plan to make the twelve year old version of myself proud. How – I haven’t really figured out yet, but it looks like for once I’ll have no choice but to slow down, reflecting on the good, the bad, and the actions I need to take.
To everyone affected by Coronavirus, I wish you health and safety during these times, and I hope you too use this time to relight that spark.