There is a saying that if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. True? Maybe. But life is difficult, being an adult is difficult and the past year with COVID wasn’t the best. Many of us in 2020 had challenges with work, inventory, store traffic, material shortages, staffing, child care or even adult care for an elderly parent. Some stores were closed for an extended period of time while others flourished.
No matter what the past 18 months have been, let’s be grateful for what we do have. While in no way am I saying COVID was a positive thing, I am saying that we should take a step back and be grateful for the here and now. Are your friends, family and employees healthy? Are your business’ doors still open? Do you have enough staff to operate? If the answer to these questions is yes, you should be grateful. Gratitude is key. It’s a positive emotion that allows us to transcend self-interest. It is well-documented that gratitude and positive mental health go together. I think practicing gratitude is the best gift we can give ourselves.
We have an adult industry that is thriving. Business is booming, inventory levels are getting back to normal and the staffing (fingers crossed) is getting easier. Reportedly, 53 percent of women and 45 percent of men between the ages of 18 and 65 have used a sex toy and say they associate that toy with improving sexual function. I believe this number will grow. In addition, the materials and technology offered in our industry have never been better. Sex toys and the innovation behind them are outstanding and getting better each year.
The industry itself has moved forward in leaps and bounds. Growing acceptance of sexual wellness products is a big factor in store growth. The old “adult stores” are becoming fresher, cleaner and brighter. They are turning into sexual health and wellness centers that focus on education, intimacy, experimentation and encouraging an open dialogue between sexual partners. Retail stores improved customer relations with online ordering, curbside pickup and in some places, home delivery. Employees are better-trained and the industry has done a great job in educating our employees during what seemed to be insurmountable challenges. The LGBTQ+ community is one of segments driving market growth and is now more accepted in general society.
People who were once considered “fringe” are now coming into their own. I acknowledge that some small businesses took a hit and some people couldn’t make it through quarantine. However, there seems to be a collective sigh of relief from those of us still left standing. We made it, we are better off and we again learned that constant innovation and reinventing ourselves is the key to survival.
ANME/XBIZ just ended and even over the computer screen there was a sense of excitement that things are starting to get back to “normal.” Maybe not 100 percent, but there was an electricity in seeing old industry friends that we haven’t seen for a while. Conversations meant more, smiles were a bit bigger and new products seemed just a tad more interesting. Many of us kept in touch over Facebook or belong to industry-specific social media groups. Many have reconnected with friends and made new ones online. I, myself, sat back, wine glass in hand, laughing with many of the people in our industry with their wine glasses in hand and glassy smiles. People changed hair colors (some several times), changed jobs, moved, had surgical procedures and took themselves online to rant about everyday events, neighbors or their frustrations. I enjoyed every minute of it! Yes, many of us have been to other virtual events since COVID upended our worlds, but this ANME/XBIZ was different. It felt like a rebirth of sorts.
My original question stands: Do you love what you do and does it feel like work? Everyone has to answer that question for themselves and I’m sure I’d get 100 different answers from 100 different people. For now, let’s celebrate the normality of life in the aftermath of such a trying and telling year. Let’s be grateful for still being around to complain about zoning and ordinance laws, secondary effects, employees, traveling, stuck shipping containers, no lube bottle lids and most of all, the dreaded face masks. I, for one, will appreciate what I have and will continue to live in gratitude with every breath I take. I will smile with satisfaction and gratitude, knowing that after a dark age, there will always be a renaissance.