The past year had some major highs and lows.

I found myself suddenly single, unemployed, the victim of mean girls and forced to move into a temporary apartment. Then the pandemic happened. And my beloved dog suddenly passed away. It seemed that everything that could go wrong did.

I cried for three months straight after my world fell apart – I was ganged up on by two of my closest friends, my significant other had been incredibly mean to me for the last couple of months of our relationship (I was walking on eggshells, controlled, criticized and being accused of things I didn’t do). I soon learned he immediately started dating one of our mutual friends, which eventually explained a lot. I was so confused, alone, scared and felt hopeless. I tried to pretend to be okay at work, but I wasn’t.

It was impossible for me to not be affected at work by the struggles I was having in my personal life, and as a result my work suffered.

I didn’t know it at the time but I was battling depression.

So what did I do? I got help, and I rebuilt my life. I had no other choice.

I learned on my friends and family, and my mentor Wendy.

I started my own company where I could be my own boss and not have to worry about my employer not supporting me during a temporary mental health crisis.

A large part of why I went off on my own was due to the fact that I’ve never again wanted to be in a position where an employer could abandon me in a time of need.

I got a new puppy. I found a home I love. I kept writing on my blog and on LinkedIn.

And I never gave up.

What I learned from this experience is that:

  • I am more resilient than I thought
  • It’s okay to not be okay sometimes
  • Being vulnerable makes you more relatable
  • No one is perfect despite what they post on social
  • Other people’s opinions of me are just that – opinions
  • I can’t be with an insecure, needy or controlling partner or someone who wants to change or fix me
  • Bad things happen to good people
  • Some friends don’t want the best for you and will sabotage your life due to insecurity and jealousy
  • It’s important to find your tribe and champions
  • It’s okay to be vulnerable and ask for help
  • A supportive workplace doesn’t terminate an employee who is going through a mental health crisis – it’s irresponsible and cruel

I also realized that I must trust my intuition and listen to red flags earlier, change is growth, I should assume good intent with people but when they prove me wrong it’s okay to cut them out of my life and sometimes I just have to just believe things will be okay.

I also now know firsthand that some law firms have a long way to go in terms of supporting their people during a mental health crisis.

There is so much more that law firms need to do, especially mid-size and small firms to support their people when they’re going through a crisis. Turning their backs on their employees is simply not an option. In fact it’s reckless.

Today is the one-year anniversary of my company, and I’m thankful and grateful to my clients and those who have supported me.

What happened to me could happen to anyone. Your life can change in an instant.

I have dealt with a lot of tough things in my life including the death of my mom from cancer, but this was different. It was all at once and it was in all areas of my life, and it felt so unfair and harsh. I’ve always been a type-A personality, and so I was especially hard on myself, which didn’t help.

Having my own business is scary and wonderful, and I still have a lot to learn about being an entrepreneur, but I love it. Sometimes we just have to take a leap before we are ready.

I also recently moved into my dream home, which is so important to me after living in a temporary place for a year and then in my controlling ex’s apartment for several years prior. No one will ever be able to suddenly pull the rug from under me again.

So don’t be afraid to start over. It’s never ever too late. And you are more resilient than you think.

xo, Stef