Identifying my weakness and sadness

Weakness & Sadness

written by Sarah Colgate

Self Awareness

August 3, 2020

I don’t know that I have ever really thought too much about weakness, what it looked like or what it feels like but today the best description of me is weak. 

Today is Saturday and I woke up with a feeling of dread, which these days happens often however by the time I had my first coffee the feeling didn’t dissipate, it was lingering.  My husband and I sat down at the kitchen table for a chat and before I opened my mouth to say anything I burst into tears, crying uncontrollably. 

What the hell? Crying is usually after a bad day or after me telling the kids off. Crying isn’t for weekend mornings. No one had died, nothing major had changed overnight but I felt dread, fear, sadness and the heaviest weight on my chest. 

All I could think about was the massive amount of work I had done to grow our business, all the weekends and nights, overseas and interstate trips I had put in and now we will have at least 6 months with near to zero revenue and the remaining months with very, very low revenue. I love tourism, it’s been my life. I am passionate about it, about the people and about providing visitors with an awesome experience. Now I am wondering if we will survive. Up until this point I could remind myself it would be ok, there would be enough money to get by but today it is like the reality had finally hit and hit hard.

Weakness & Sadness

What was going on with me, I had no hope, there was no bright spot, nothing. I haven’t had a feeling like this in a long, long time it’s scary. My first thought when things are down or go bad is a positive one, there has to be a change that I can make, there has to be a plan or improvement. Not this time, the sad fact of the matter is there isn’t a change I can make. This situation is so far out of my control with no end in sight.

Travel and tourism is suffering so badly not only here but across the world. But today my anger is directed at the one person who can do something about it. The QLD Premier is keeping our QLD borders closed for now. Why? I don’t know but as far as I understand it we have done what was asked and flatten the curve but by the standards of Anastasia Palaszczuk that isn’t enough. So my business remains closed and I now need to look at more ways to cut costs and save jobs. I really don’t want to do this anymore, after 4 months of cutting costs there isn’t much more to cut. I have had enough, I simply don’t want to play anymore. 

We started cutting costs in February 2020. As soon as it was obvious there was an issue around CoronaVirus.  We lost $65000 in two weeks over Chinese New Year plus the $50000 investment we had made in promoting our product in China last year. We started speaking to the other businesses and our tourism organisations but we were all in the same boat and it was happening fast.

In order to regain some control I set about putting together a staged approach to cost cutting. It was measured and it was deep. A number of these steps were very difficult. Good people that I loved. One stage was letting go of a Marketing Manager I had just hired and I knew could make a big difference to our business. But what choice did I have? We didn’t have enough money to keep her no matter how much of a difference she would make to the business. This decision was hard and it hurt back then and even now when I think about it.

When it comes to cutting costs you are putting your business before your people. That doesn’t sit well with me. What’s the point in having a business without people but I guess you can’t have people without a business. I felt the process of cutting costs is embarrassing. I have never thought of myself as proud, just someone who did what they had to do. But these cuts were hurting, I was cutting hours for people who were valuable and intrinsic to our success. I was asking banks and landlords to help us when we had spent so much time telling them we were solid. I was calling people I love and respected to cancel memberships and agreements which we needed. But I continued on every day going over more plans for more cuts to keep the business viable. I lay in bed at night endlessly thinking about what this would all look like going forward, how we would carry on providing great service to customers. 

At this stage, back in late February, I never imagined we would close our doors. I just thought we would have a smaller operation for a while, market to domestic travellers. That would work, 82% of our business is domestic. In my head I rationalised it over and over again. But each day we got less and less phone calls, less and less emails and we had less and less customers. All the while the media coverage on the virus and the social distancing requirements were increasing, 

The morning of Saturday 21st March, I knew we could no longer operate under the increasing restrictions. They were suffocating us and we could see they were suffocating the industry. So on Sunday 22nd March we did two tours that morning, the Sunday Mail did a story on us and closed up shop for who knows how long. At the time I was thinking 47 days as that was the number friends in Shanghai had been closed off for.  But today we are at day 69 and I can no longer cope. My feelings are of immense weakness and immense sadness today. 

I can no longer be warm and friendly, I can no longer tell people it’s going to be ok because it isn’t. I have decided when people say “Hi How are you? How are things going?” My response will be “Shit, Bloody Shit. How are you?” 

Today all I wanted to do was cry and hide under the blankets ( yes it’s cold enough for blankets in May on the Gold Coast, only just). I had to explain to my kids why I was feeling this way. I used the word “Fragile” and my 8 year old responded with “Fragile is an understatement Mum!” And then she bought out her Aquaduck toys / souvenirs to sing me a cheer up song. Love 💕💕💕💕

So here we are with potentially another 3 months of this ahead of us, in this weird limbo that is not really my thing. I am feeling weak. I feel weak about my lack of control, about my emotions, about my focus and most of all about my value as a contributing member of society. It sucks and it devalues my self worth. I don’t know that I have enough tears or alcohol to get me through the next 3 months. That is way too many hours and minutes to not produce something of value or not to be in business.

So I guess today was a lesson in understanding weakness and sadness. I haven’t resolved anything, just understood it a little better. I have also given myself permission to feel this way for the short term if that is what it takes. But I do need to get up and get back to achieving something soon in order for me to stay sane and feel like me again. 

I keep thinking of the Alcoholic Anonymous prayer, maybe because that is where I will end up or maybe because I need some reassurance. 

Weakness & Sadness

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