A Letter to My Younger Self-- what it's like working for myself 6 months later.

Dear Younger Me,

As you stand on the precipice of a dream, teetering between the comfortable known and the exhilarating unknown of starting your own business, I pen this letter from the future to share some insights about our journey. In your hands are the seeds of your dreams - nail art, handcrafted candles, resin crafts, carefully curated tea blends, and unique jewelry. And while you're bursting with anticipation to share these creations with the world, I know that the uncertainty of what lies ahead might be daunting.

You want to quit your job right now. The thing that pays the bills, that helps you get socialization in, your connection with the world.  You love your job, and the challenges you face everyday. You like being able to talk to others, to work on a team. But you are feeling frustrated from being drained at the end of every day. It's tough on you. You don't know it yet, but it's because you've been working so hard at masking your autism. You're so good at it, that you don't even know anything about you is different, so you don't look.

One question looms large: Do you follow the well-trodden path of mainstream popularity, or do you break free to follow your unique artistic impulses? It's a question that comes back every now and again, but you brush it aside. Every time she comes back, she seems to have grown larger, more powerful. It's time to face your fears.

The magnetic pull of mainstream trends will be strong. After all, it's easier to sell what people already know and love. Choosing to craft nail designs that are popping up all over Pinterest, following the recipes that have gone viral to showcase your new tea blends, making candles in just the bestselling scents and following the trends... this is the safe path.  These choices might draw a wider audience, getting your work the attention it deserves. You might have a chance at going viral.

You'll be tempted to adjust your designs and styles to what's popular, altering the intricate detailing on your resin crafts to be "less busy" or take out that secret surprise note in that candle blend you've been experimenting on. And while there is nothing wrong with these thoughts, remember that your creations are the embodiment of your unique vision and style.

Yet, venturing off the beaten path to follow your own creative impulses carries its own charm and potential. There, you can let your creativity run wild, unshackled by the constraints of popular trends. You can feel free to build the brand that you set out to. But, I won't lie to you – this path is often more challenging.

Every time you put your art into a package for the world to assess and judge, it feels like you are auctioning off a piece of your soul. The price tags on your work can sometimes feel like a measure of your worth, your creativity. You package up your photos, your statistics, your business statement... and hand it over to a dispassionate judge for evaluation. And I know how that scares you.

Applying to marketplaces, pitching your products to stores for wholesale approval, it feels like a constant fight. A fight to prove that your work, your vision, is 'worth' paying for. It’s intimidating, scary even, because suddenly your creativity is tied to financial worth. This struggle, though it might feel overwhelming, is a shared experience for artists like us. 

Is this the life you asked for? Is it worth quitting your day job, your stability, your mental health? Are you happy to risk your social life, your physical dexterity, your vision and muscles, your will for this?

Let me tell you this: Your worth is not defined by the price tag on your creations or the approval of wholesale vendors. You are worth so much more than that. Your creativity, your passion, your dedication – they're invaluable.

As you grow, you'll add new dimensions to your product line. You'll craft designs and scents that are unmistakably 'you,' even if they may not align with mainstream trends. You'll find your niche, a place where your artistry is appreciated and loved for its authenticity. You will come to find that other businesses just like you are thriving, doing just fine in this crazy world. They have followed their gut, made just enough compromises but not too many; they have found the way to be themselves, explore their art, and make money to keep doing it again the next day, and the next. This balance between trend and individuality is a tough one to strike, but I promise, you'll find your way.

Remember, it's not about choosing between mainstream success or individual creativity. It's about finding your own rhythm, your own harmony between your artistic vision and the market demands. It's about creating art that speaks to you and resonates with others.

And in the end, you’ll realize that it's possible to create a space where your passion for art and the realities of business can coexist and even flourish. So keep your head high and your spirits higher. This journey is going to be an unforgettable one. Remember, your mission is to be an advocate for self-expression. You have to be brave, you have to take risks.

Things have gotten so much better since you took the leap.

Happy six months.

With all the love and encouragement in the world,

Your Future Self

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