The last year has had some major highs and lows, but guess what? It’s the one-year anniversary of my company! I’m officially an entrepreneur and a woman-owned business. Here are some things I learned.

My world came crashing down when my significant other suddenly ended our relationship one Friday afternoon last year after falsely accusing me of online dating and a host of other things. I was so confused as we had just moved in together and were discussing plans for a family.

I soon found out he needed an excuse to leave me, in large part because he had already lined up one of our mutual acquaintances to date. 

They flaunted their relationship publicly to the dismay of everyone around us. It wasn’t that I was upset about our relationship ending as we had underlying issues and never should have dated if I’m being honest (because I ignore red flags), but I was shocked that he was capable of ending it with me in this way. I had no idea he was even interested in someone else, especially this person.

At the same time, two of my close friends stabbed me in the back, one siding with him and the other deciding to wreck havoc in my life just to cause drama. She tried to turn friends against me and spread vicious lies and half truths designed to destroy my friendships. She only wound up destroying herself.

It’s impossible to not let something like that – a betrayal on every level – affect every aspect of your life, and a result my work suffered, and I lost my job. I just couldn’t concentrate at work – I couldn’t compartmentalize. My employer at the time was patient with me for a bit but business is business.

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

I found myself single, unemployed and living in a strange new apartment. Then the pandemic happened. And to make matters worse my beloved dog suddenly passed away after battling health issues for many years. 

So what did I do? I got help, and I rebuilt my life. And I took positive action to ensure I never wound up in that position again.

  • I leaned on my close 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 mental health crisis.
  • I networked as much as possible (from a distance).
  • I helped others who needed a hand – especially those who had also been the victims of mean girls or a controlling/narcissistic partner.
  • I worked out every day and started to meditate.
  • I cut out toxic people and mean girls from my life.
  • I saw a great therapist who helped me realize I was in an emotionally abusive relationship with a controlling narcissist – and as a very independent person it was never going to work.
  • I stopped posting as much on my personal social media channels and checking social and started enjoying the moment.
  • I reflected on how I could be a better person, colleague, friend, daughter, sister, partner and really listen to constructive criticism.
  • I got a new puppy.
  • I moved out of that temporary place and into my dream apartment.
  • I kept writing on my blog and on LinkedIn.
  • I surrounded myself with people who let me be me and didn’t try to change me.
  • I stopped caring what other people thought of me. And I stopped trying to make everyone like me.
  • I realized that other people’s opinions of me are just that – opinions. And I stopped taking them as the truth.
  • I learned how to manage my time better and how to be a better client-service solution provider and networker.
  • And I never gave up.

What I learned from all of this is that I am more resilient than I thought, that it’s okay to not be okay sometimes, that being yourself is better than trying to fit in where you don’t belong, how trusting your intuition is the most important thing you can do and that sometimes you have to just believe that everything will work out.

I also learned the importance of not ignoring red flags professionally and personally.

Most importantly I learned how to take charge of my life and make proactive changes in it. I knew my ex was wrong for me and that I wasn’t in love with him. I also knew that I had outgrown my job and that those two friends were more frenemies than anything else – but I ignored all of it until it all blew up in my face.

Today is the one-year anniversary of my new company, and I’m so thankful and grateful to my clients and everyone who has supported me along the way.

The best thing I did was to get little Lucy, named after my late mom who passed away from cancer a few years ago.

It is not easy to start a new company in the midst of a pandemic or at any time – but hard work and perseverance and passion for what you do have been the keys for my success so far. 

Having my own business is scary and wonderful, but sometimes we just have to take a leap before we are ready.

So don’t be afraid to start over or reinvent yourself – even if you hate change like me. It’s never too late. Like a (social media) butterfly, you can soar. Xo, Stef