2020. Pardon my French, but what the actual eff was that. It feels like Christmas 2019 was…a month ago? Or was it 50 years? Needless to say, every.single.one.of.us has been through the ringer this year. There have been so many lives lost, affected, changed, and we have learned and shown that we all have a responsibility and respect for each other like never before. We are seeing every day that community, connection, and caring is still relevant currency. Giving: a smile, advice, a chance, a gift, a hand, a donation, and more, has never been more important as we support each other through the insanity and pain of this year.
Our theme on social media this week has been to “change the narrative of 2020” from pain to silver linings, and I have been so inspired reading the stories that users are sending that I wanted to tell my own and hope that it can inspire someone as well. Bear with me, because dear friends, I am still in “the middle” of this story… but 2020 has been a pretty major chapter.
So here’s the beginning of the middle. I got divorced this year. I ended my marriage. I walked away with my three young sons because I knew it was the best decision for us. And it was f*cking hard. I didn’t know what I was going to do, or where I was going to go, but I just knew things had to change. Divorce is awful. Even when it’s smooth, it isn’t. Some days you’re functioning and feeling like you can do this thang, and some days you feel like you’re getting punched in the gut every 5 minutes. And who do you call for health insurance? And how do you change your name? Is that before or after you change the bank accounts? And what’s the protocol on calling your soon-to-be-ex-husband to babysit when you have a meeting rescheduled? Do you need to take all of your kids to a therapist? How do you work full-time, be both parents, and still be there for your kids? GAH, it’s all just so messy.
I had started playing around with the idea for afloat in the fall of 2019, and lets just say, I was a walking example of someone who needed afloat. Throughout the whole divorce process, I was constantly reminded how important connection, and the support and celebration of community is, and not just on the days when I felt like the wind was knocked out of me, or I was too blind and overwhelmed to see the next step forward. Community was important on the days when I just wanted a friend to walk with. It was important for me to feel like I had value, and could help someone else in my community when I had a day that I could breathe. This full circle connection that we had founded afloat on had never been more top of mind for me. The days were hard, but being able to work on afloat — what I thought at that time was a side project— would provide the connection, ease of support and celebration, as well as remove the stigma of social media perfection, general feelings of disconnection and anxiety – was thrilling.
So I kicked off 2020 with a general “this is for the best and I’m doing this!” attitude, sprinkled with some light depression and anxiety, but also overwhelming gratitude for my friends, family, and communities who were by my side. Just a normal daily emotional range, amiright?
Annnnnd then, COVID hit.
Suddenly I wasn’t the only one whose world was off-kilter. Suddenly we were all overwhelmed and underwater.
Those early days were so hard, and so scary. We launched the beta app, unknowingly, the week before lockdown. The whole world was so noisy, and we didn’t know how to fit into it at all. The beta platform we built wasn’t capable of functioning at the level we all needed, and it was all just so frustrating. But… validating. Because we saw you guys coming. We saw every download. We saw every afloat. We saw, most importantly, people connecting with our mission and the concept of being afloat.
I was running in the rain one day, screaming and bawling over kids and custody, and starting this business that I cared SO much about, and COVID, and just everything. And I stopped, shuttering and crying so hard I couldn’t breathe, and thought… “but this is how it happens. Keep going.” So we did. I dug deeper, and got braver, and looked at where we needed to go next. I relied on my team to do the things I couldn’t do alone, and we kept pressing forward. Now we have an app out in the world that we are so incredibly proud of to share, and it’s just the beginning. I got through my divorce. We got through a rocky COVID start with afloat. And we are all going to get through this pandemic. It’s hard. Life is. But look to your left and look to your right. Find your people.
And change the narrative.
I feel incredibly lucky to have launched this platform in a year when community and connection are top of mind for everyone. It has been overwhelming because what we thought would be a quiet year to grow up and learn about our people and product has suddenly been accelerated as users flocked to afloat to satisfy what social media can’t. Now, don’t get me wrong. I see AMAZING things happening on social media all of the time. Sara Foster’s connection to families in need with her followers who wanted to give was next level. Just incredibly inspiring, and I am here for it! But, that was one bright spot in an endless scroll of things I don’t have and places that I am not. I can’t help but wonder when I’m on my social accounts… what am I even DOING here? Why am I looking at someone else’s vacation photos, reading an old elementary school classmate’s political views, or worrying about a moose wandering through a stranger’s yard 10 miles away? Why did I just buy that thing, that I DON’T NEED?
That’s what afloat isn’t.
We all — and I’m going to speak specifically about moms now— do SO much. We have more on our plates and in our mindshare than EVER before. And it has to be perfect because #instagram. Can a girl just get a little help!? I love the fact that I can get on afloat to ask my mom friends a question, or offer a grocery run to a friend going through chemo. I love that I can support my favorite business AND celebrate a friend who just got a new job at the same time. It just feels good to have a place to put all of the goodness, the action, and the positivity – and skip the draining negativity.
So my narrative is changing from a year of overwhelm and anxiety to one of connection, compassion, and caring. We are focusing “only on afloat” for 2021. We are focusing on what we can do that no other social platform can, to keep everyone afloat. We are focusing on the goodness that afloat users create and curate with their different communities; communities that only afloat brings together on your phone. We are focusing on the ways we can celebrate and support each other with your communities, your favorite businesses and their thoughtful selections, only on afloat. We are focusing on how you all want to use the afloat platform to connect in a positive, uplifting way, and what we need to do to improve it for you. We are focusing on keeping each other afloat, in every sense of the word. And believe me when I say… we are just getting started.