Sheri Wolf

It Only Took a World Pandemic to Learn this Lesson

Guest Post by Sheri Wolf

Sometimes it takes a world pandemic to learn how to love ourselves.

I am a mom of 3 wonderful children (20, 18, and 14), a business owner and hair stylist at Head Zup salon, and wife of 23 years to my best friend.

As I imagine for a lot of moms, my kids’ lives are my life. I absolutely love going to their activities, seeing them happy in what they love, listening to them talk about their days and just being with them. Those things really fill my bucket, they make me happy, but little by little, I lost who I was along the way.

When my oldest child graduated I slightly started panicking, but kept saying, “I got this.” I will still have my 2 boys at home that will keep me busy and I will be able to focus on everything they love. I also have my husband and maybe we’ll have a little more time to do the things we’ve been too busy to do, and I have a business to run. 

So that’s what I did, my daughter left the fall of 2019 for college and my heart was so full and happy for her, but at the same time a piece of it was empty. She was becoming her own person and I was loving being able to spend so much time with my boys and husband. I was truly happy, but also always trying to figure out who I was without a piece of me. I think we as parents, especially mom’s, set so much of ourselves aside as we raise our families. That comment isn’t to mean anything negatively, but just think for a moment, think about when the last time was that you thought of only you and not felt guilty that you weren’t focused on your family or career. We don’t take enough time for ourselves, we give up some of the things we enjoy so we can attend their activities, which I don’t regret for a second, but I also wish I would have balanced things better. 

For me, I always love being a mom, but like with anything I’m passionate about, I go all in. Little by little over the years I started to lose myself. Their hobbies became my hobbies, we put off our date nights cause there was a game or something to attend for our kids. I always thought we had to be busy to be worthy, and deep down I cared way too much about what people thought of me. I felt my value was based on how many people I was “friends” with and how much we were included because that’s what I thought was important. 

What made me think that was important?!? 

Who knows, it could be the media, trying to keep up to the “Jones” on social media, or just something that voice made up in my head. Ugh that voice, the one that tells us that we aren’t good enough, the one that tells us that those people are probably talking about us, that one that makes us over analyze absolutely everything. That voice, as I started to work on myself I realized was wrong. I’m not sure why that voice is so mean sometimes, but man I know I would never ever talk to someone else the same way that I talk to myself.

So life was a little by little slowing down, which was good and bad. Good because I was starting to see what I liked to do, but bad cause I was constantly fighting with that voice in my head telling me I wasn’t enough. I was working on quieting that voice, but man sometimes we are our own worst enemy and there were days that voice was really loud.

Now let’s fast forward to March, life is getting on with the new “normal”. Loving my kids and who they are becoming, spending more time with my husband, loving my job so much and the chaos it’s always been, and working on quieting that voice a little more—working on me and not only finding the things that I like to do, but learning to talk to myself in a nicer way.

Then Covid happens…

It literally wipes out my job… it says “Nope, that’s not happening, you’re not going to do that one thing you’ve always known for the last 24 years.” That one thing that gives you all your glory, that thing that makes everyone love you!! Right? That’s what made me who I am? That’s how I’m defined? A career, a creative job that has brought some of my greatest friends into my life! And bam it’s gone… so now what!?

Well, some of the lowest times of my life that’s what!! 

My Covid “break” lasted exactly 8 weeks—and thank god it did!! Wait what!?!?? I’m glad it lasted that long??? I actually cried when they overturned the order that said we got to open back up, not because I had to go back to work, but because I want some more time figuring out who I was and I still needed more work!! I needed more time with myself!

At the beginning of Covid I absolutely did not think this way…. as most of my friends and clients have heard the Covid break went in stages:

  • The first 2-3 weeks were not pretty at all!!! It started out with ‘oh yah’ we’ll be closed for a few weeks. I’ll get some of those things done I needed to get done, which I think most of us went through. 
  • Then I entered the “frat boy” stage where I didn’t do anything but binge watch Netflix and literally nothing else for a week. That right there does NOT solve anything and was not pretty at all!!! 
  • Right about week 3 I experienced some of the worst anxiety I’ve ever gone through (and if I’m being real I’ve always experienced anxiety, but tried to hide it a lot!). That voice was back in full force and louder than ever, screaming at me all my insecurities and all the what if’s. Don’t forget, I’m a mom and a wife also, I was still trying to function for my husband (who was considered essential) and kids (who were all at home learning virtually). But I know I was just a shell, that voice had taken over and I was constantly hustling. 

As I was at one of my lowest points of my life, I really began to see who my “people” were!! Some of these people I always knew were my game changers, but a few emerged that surprised me also. They are a small group of people, but man they are mighty. I didn’t need a big crowd of people, but just a few loud people that kept saying, “Hey I got you, take my hand and I’ll lift you up!!” They were there nonstop, all in different ways as I was spiraling.

That was one of my worst times which was followed by an even sadder time, because that was the week that Governor Evers decided to extend the order!! And man did I cry!!! I cried a lot! Like a fricken baby, cry!!! 

But that week, was the also the start of a turn around, I was on a business zoom call and another salon owner in that zoom mentioned we need to be easy on ourselves cause we were going through the stages of grief… huh, well shit that was the most real thing I had heard during the whole shut down!! I started to realize I was in grief, I was in grief for the life that was, so as I started working my way through the stages of grief for my career—something I’ve done for over half my life—something I had felt that brought me my “worth”. 

It was also at this time that Compounding Courage released Angie Greutzmacher’s story. I remember exactly what I was doing when I read Angie’s story, I remember the feeling of not being able to breathe when I read her words because I felt she was speaking directly to me. She doesn’t realize this, but that was my turning point or my “aha” moment. It was that specific article from a strong and beautiful woman that made me realize it was time to get up and start moving forward. I had to decide how I was going to make my business survive, but more importantly I needed to work on what I was all about outside of my business. 

What do I like to do? Well when you go from busy to almost nothing, you really start to evaluate yourself and what your passions truly are. Like I said earlier, I’ve always liked to be busy because it was a way to quiet the voices in my head telling me I wasn’t good enough, that I was too big, too loud, and not people’s cup of tea. During this time when I was going through the grieving process during Covid, I prayed a lot. Praying for me has always helped to settle my anxiety. I am not going to go into all the things I prayed for, because that’s between me and God, but I’ll tell you I did pray for God to help me love myself the way he created me. And slowly it started to work. 

Don’t get me wrong it was and still is a bumpy, messy road but I can honestly say I love myself more than ever. That doubt still creeps in every once in a while, but I notice it almost immediately and realize it’s not “reality” it’s just that movie trying to play in my head. I also realized during all this that we talk to ourselves in a way we wouldn’t ever speak to others, so I started to be nicer to myself. I’m still a hot mess at times, but I truly have learned to stop comparing myself to others, I have stopped making everyone else’s words about me, and a little by little that voice gets nicer and quieter.

So during that “break” I worked on projects around my house, I learned to run my business in a new way, I reconnected with some great people I’ve lost touch with along the way, I learned to love to sit and just be, I read a lot, and as many know I like gardening (but gave it up 12 years ago cause I was too busy). I realized I really liked slowing down (the Sheri 2-3 years ago would argue hardcore!), but I really do like slowing down. I love my people! I mean love them with my whole being! The best part I realized—I really love myself! It was the most emotionally raw moment of my life, but I realized what really made me tick and who my people really are, they dealt with my crap in the worst ways and truly were there for me.

So don’t think you need a paparazzi of people around you because you don’t, you need those true people! You need those people that are your true game changers (I really hope mine know who they are, since they had seen this hot mess before I wrote this)! In all this we need to learn to forgive, love and have patience. We also need to remember not everything is about us, people are doing the absolute best they can, they don’t need our judgement. How about we leave that to God!! But most of all we need to have love and patience with ourselves, we need to forgive ourselves as equally and quickly as we would others. I have a lot of work ahead of myself, but I can honestly say that for the first time in 43 years that I truly love myself.

So as 2020 comes to an end, let’s not focus on all the pain and challenges that were endured, but instead I challenge all of us to look inside ourselves and pick out a few of the good things that happened because of 2020. For some of us it was the way we started to learn to love ourselves, or it was that time to really connect with our loved ones in a new way. It may have been getting some “bonus” time with our growing kids and spouse. It may have been a way to get creative and learn to do your job in a new way you never knew was possible. It may have grown your connection with God and your faith, or to finally have time to develop those hobbies you’ve always wanted to try. Whatever it was, it’s been there the whole time we just need to quiet ourselves enough to see them. I really do believe if you start to look for the good things that happened in 2020, you will notice so many great things that were always there, but we may have been too busy to have paid attention to. And to think, we get to take that new perspective into 2021. How lucky are we?!?

1 thought on “It Only Took a World Pandemic to Learn this Lesson”

  1. Steph Bennett Brokopp

    “I always thought we had to be busy to be worthy, and deep down I cared way too much about what people thought of me.” Preach it, sister! I completely resonate with your story and am so thankful that you shared it. Well done!

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Julie Stephenson

Julie is one of the founders of Compounding Courage, a company that provides personal growth and leadership development programs. CLICK HERE to learn more.