Today, I’m recognizing the one year anniversary of a day that really sucked at the time (but which turned out to be kind of amazing). This is a letter to the girl I was on November 16, 2010.

{I painted this self portrait about 6 months before this bad day happened}

Dear Adriana,

Today, you got fired. Totally, completely fired. At 5:30 on a Friday, your boss called you into her office and said things just weren’t working out. You packed up your mugs, and granola bars, and that extra pair of shoes you hid under your desk. Then you left your security badge at the front door, and walked home. I know that now you’re sitting at home, alone and crying. And wondering why you just can’t seem to get this career thing right.

I know that you’re trying to figure out how you could have gotten it so wrong.

After all, you had a good college education, and you had worked hard in so many different cubicles, crunching so many different numbers, and attending so many different meetings. You had thought this is what you had wanted.

Listen up, friend. It’s going to be okay.

In fact, it’s going to be more than okay. In a year you’ll have the best job you’ve ever had, one that’s fulfilling and thrilling and challenging and beautiful. But I’m telling you this now because you still have a very long year ahead. You’re going to do things you never dreamed you could do. You’re going to lean on your friends, face your biggest fears, and screw up. It’s going to be tough and scary, and you’re going to go through more coffee and York Peppermint Patties than is remotely reasonable. But one year from today, you’re going to be writing a blog post at your computer (a new one, by the way, since yours is going to crash in about a month). And you’re going to be feeling nothing but profound gratitude for the totally crappy day you’re having.

Now, if you don’t mind, I want to leave you with a few thoughts about the coming year. You know, advice from an old friend…

After you spend a couple of carb-loaded days wallowing at your parent’s house, one of your oldest friends is going to take you on a walk, and suggest you start a creative business. I know! She must be totally nuts, right? Well, my dear, I think you should listen carefully to what she says. Just listen, and then let it float around your brain for a couple of weeks. Couldn’t hurt, right?

Yes, it’s so scary. By the time December rolls around you’re going to be tentatively, gingerly, delicately testing the waters to see what starting a creative business might be like. Then one day you’re going to put up a website – that’ll be a big step. You totally have my permission to celebrate it, by the way. I remember how scary it is to put your artwork ‘out there’ for the first time, but good things will come of it, I promise.

Speaking of which, I should probably warn you now that you’re going to have plenty of false starts. The first TWO websites you put together are going to be…well…kind of ugly and full of bugs (but you will make a nice website eventually). You’re going to spend a good deal of time reaching out to people who don’t respond, but don’t get discouraged. Really, it’s just all part of the process. Plus, a few people will respond and you’ll start to make connections with other simply amazing women who are running their own creative businesses.

Right there in the middle of winter, money’s going to get a little, er, tight. Don’t panic, friend! It’s going to be a little uncomfortable and yes, quite stressful, but know that you will never be homeless and you will never be hungry. Don’t let your fear of those things change your course.

By the spring, people are going to keep telling you that you’re “living the dream.” And you’re pretty much going to think that they’re crazy…But they’re right, you are living your dream. It’s just very hard to tell right now while you’re in the thick of it. It wouldn’t hurt to take a step back, and just think about all you’ve done in the past few months. I know, it’s so much work, and you have every right to feel overwhelmed, but don’t lose sight of the fact that you’re getting to pick up a paintbrush almost every single day.

The day you sell your first painting, you’re going to be ecstatic. The day you sell your 10th painting you’re going to be ecstatic. The day you sell your 30th painting you’re going to be ecstatic. Never lose your enthusiasm, because it’s celebrating these small (yet, not so small) accomplishments that make this struggle oh-so-worth it.

One last thing I want to tell you before you head off to eat some more chocolate and then start this wonderous year. Along the way, people are going to offer you help and love and support totally out of the blue. I know it’s in your nature to go it alone. But this is not the time. Open your arms and accept the support that the universe is hurling in your direction. Because you’re going to succeed this year partly because you’re going to work darn hard, but mostly because there are simply amazing people in this world who want your dreams to survive.

Love,
Adriana