• Leslie Jespersen

I Closed My Business. Here's What Happened.

The last couple weeks seemed like the season finale of a mindfuck series where every episode had a plot twist, and both everything and nothing changed at the same time.

I hadn't blogged in a month.

I didn't record any new podcasts.

I stayed in bed for what seemed like a week straight.

I meditated.

I prayed.

I did inner child hypnosis and yin yoga.

I drove my boyfriend crazy (and somehow he's still here).

I was physically ill, with no explanation, and no answers from doctors and testing.

What was really happening was the death of one season of Leslie, and the birth of the next.

Every major life event, for me, was the universe presenting me with the opportunity to take a step up towards a life that I was asking for.

When I lost my home in Hurricane Sandy and my marriage ended, it was an opportunity for me to discover who I was as an individual and learn to love myself.

When I quit my entry level corporate job and started my own business, it was an opportunity to be with my children who desperately needed me (and I needed them), continue working on myself personally, and make a name for myself as the intelligent, talented, beautiful, badass bitch that I never knew I could be. I developed skills I never would have, and built myself a skillset that would have never happened if I didn't go out on my own and learn along the way. I was the first to hit the South Jersey market as a social media strategist and agency, utilizing Facebook's brand new "Live" feature with my #FreeTipFriday videos, teaching workshops to help small businesses, and networking my ass off every moment of every day. I built a radio leg, produced a concert series, a webseries, employed 2 interns, and gained the respect of people twice my age. All with piercings, tattoos, and fashion haircolor.

And now, when a pandemic canceled all events, entertainment, and marketing budgets, turned me into a stay at home mom, and gave me an entire year to do some much needed messy healing...

It's an opportunity to go back to work - out THERE. I loved being my own boss. I loved the freedom, the flexibility, the empowerment. And I will most likely ALWAYS be working a few side hustles because, that's just what I do. But I'm ready for more.

Do I want to go back to a job where I brought home $1400 a month, felt the need to get drunk every night, never slept, and was mentally manipulated? Absofuckinglutely not. And for so long, that is what I equated a "real job" with. I swore I would never go back. Now I know that that ONE experience is not ALL experiences. I am not desperate, I am not a naive single mom with no experience just trying to get her foot in the door. I know there will be compromise, bad days, stress, headaches, and I know won't always get along with people I work with. I've built so many skills since that job...

and I mean, I did PR for comedians and strippers, so....?

Anyway. Back to the story.

When the pandemic hit, I had already been making some heavy shifts in my business. A bad business partnership put me in debt for the first time, forced me to focus my time and energy on solely producing content and selling sponsorships to stay above water instead of doing what a business owner should always be doing most of - bringing in new business, monetizing, growing, and serving. Producing events was the only way I was able to clear my bills and refunding tickets due to C*VID was the nail in the coffin.

I had several conversations with my boyfriend about what it would mean for me to close Marsolluna & Co (my media & marketing agency) completely, apply for out-of-home jobs, and go back into the corporate workforce full time. We discussed what salary I would need, how far I could commute, and how we would adjust our lives to accomodate me working outside the home. And then I cried. No, I sobbed. My heart felt like it was breaking as I came to grips with the fact that everything I defined myself as, for the past 5 years before 2020, was ending.

I was mourning something I built from the ground up, with every fiber of my being, with the last $250 in my bank account. The only thing that saved me when I had nothing else to cling on to.

Letting go of Marsolluna felt like letting go of everything I made myself to be. Who even AM I anymore without it? If you listened to my latest podcast episode, I talked about associating my identity and self worth with the work I produced. And how I was taking downtime and still making money. Truth is, I knew that wasn't the end of that moment, that notion. I knew another step was coming. And I decided, it was time. I didn't even tell my mom. Writing out a Facebook post asking for job recommendations had me vomiting from crying so hard. I said to my boyfriend, "I feel like a failure. I feel like I'm giving up."

I stayed in bed, rewriting resume after resume, cover letter after cover letter, somehow trying to condense everything onto one page. I watched #careertiktok for hours on hours, taking notes about interviewing. I reached out to friends in the field and asked them for help. I was inundated with my fears. What if they don't like my online presence? What if so-and-so who doesn't like me actively tries to hinder my success (it's happened lol). What if - this one's really fucked up - What if they see me and my size and don't want me representing their business? (I warned you. Welcome to my head!)

I got real with myself and reframed.

What if I'm the perfect fit? What if I'm everything they're looking for?

And then I got out of bed. I dried my tears. And I felt like I could breathe again for the first time in so long.

I journaled about what life would look like when I had a consistent, documentable, understandable income and we could finally buy a house. Or even a car. I thought about how good it would feel to just have one W-2 at tax time instead of a billion 1099s and quarterly self employment taxes and business registrations and QuickBooks. I thought about what it would feel like to work with likeminded people who are passionate about marketing, advertising, social media, and delivering experiences that make people smile and solve problems, instead of feeling completely alone as a business owner.

Somehow, by coming to terms with this life shift, I'm able to step back into my roles at home without such resentment. I am able to appreciate them more, and I wake up grateful again. I'm grateful to stay in PJs all day and make my bed. I look forward to food shopping in the middle of the day and taking my time to cook dinner. I'm excited to pick my kids up from the bus stop when it's pouring rain. Because I know something new is just ahead.

I haven't heard back from any jobs I've applied to, and I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little nervous. But I know this.

What's meant for me shall not pass me.

I know what I have to offer. I know that the perfect place for me is out there and I know that I won't have to compromise my individuality or my integrity for the right fit.

I have no idea what my future looks like, but I know that it's big. I know it allows me to be in my fullest expression of self, use my creativity and passion, be seen, and experience the abundance I've worked so hard for.

I really enjoyed looking back on all these memories and am filled with gratitude for every lesson, friendship, business relationship, and especially those who stuck their neck out for me, and those who gave me a shot when I had no experience. "Thank You" will never be enough.

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