I am crippled like most creatives with a cynical little voice in my head (my voice is named Tianna and she’s a cynical witch) constantly questioning my creative efforts and decisions. And Tianna has been in my mind since I was a little girl.
Me, Age 5, visibly thinking cynical thoughts.
I would obsess over what my peers were wearing because naturally my goal through-out my younger school years was to blend in. Ensuring my own survival in the jungle that is public school. Well consequently it was a highly ineffective method as I was the ONLY Asian kid in ENTIRE school of over 400+ kids. I wore the shit out of Abercrombie plaid shirts with casually distressed acid wash jeans. That was the rural Wisconsin town look… very farmer chic. I was fascinated with the store, Hot Topic. Let me tell you… For a rural Wisconsin raised, culturally confused little Asian girl Hot Topic was a world of enchantment.
Age 10 - Wow. All these years are this color in my mind.
I vividly remember my first Hot Topic purchase. It was a light blue, baby doll stretchy t-shirt with a flaming, red haired China doll type character on the front, chucking up the deuces, winking, doing a ninja kick. My mind raced. It was perfect. It was ME, the real T! I thought to myself how cool it was and how fuckin’ awesome I would look at school wearing that sassy little number. I had to have that shirt. As far as I was concerned this shirt was a direct representation of my own inner self.
Monday rolls around got my power shirt on, ready to rock. I walk up, jacket on... STOP. I realize that is Friday… fucking spirit day. God damn red and black Spartan pride bullshit day at my middle school. And my school, loved them some fuckin spirit. I start to panic, here comes the voice… “You should run… fake sick right now… or hide… You’re good at hiding. You should hide in the locker room… shit… shit… shit… RED ALERT! DO NOT LET ANYONE SEE YOU IN THIS SHIRT BECAUSE YOU LOOK LIKE A TOTAL FREAK!”
My choice was clear. I would keep my jacket on all day. My bright yellow and blue reflective Columbia winter skiing jacket. I wore it all day long. When told to remove it, I simply refused. I mean who’s going to argue with the combative Asian girl sporting bright red cheeks sweating her ass off. After I got home I crammed my power shirt in the back of my dresser never to see the light of day again. There she lived the rest of her days until she ended up crammed to the bottom of a bag destined for donation.
What a demented walk down memory lane that was… But this memory is cemented in my mind as a regret. I regret not wearing that shirt every day of my entire middle school year! Why?! Because my mind numbing, crippling and completely unsubstantiated FEAR stopped me from presenting to the world, ME!
As an entrepreneur you are wearing your own weird shirt and stepping out onto a stage with a sea of millions of Abercrombie plaid shirts. But guess what?! It doesn’t fucking matter! The beauty and beast of today is that so much of what we see is commercial and deeply generic it shines a light on originality and uniqueness! Create your own vision, allow yourself to expand on what it is that you really identify with and let that style flow!
I struggled in the beginning of my journey as an entrepreneur, maybe you have to. It’s hard to jump onto a playing field where you feel like everyone around you has an identity and you can’t seem you find yours. This only means you have to put in serious work to uncover it. Stop focusing on what other people are doing and start driving your energy into your own thoughts, inspirations, and creativity. Your voice and your identity are there, you HAVE to bring that authenticity to what you do for your business. I truly believe that my first step in the right direction for my business was realizing it was BETTER if I was my true, genuine self.
I am so inspired by the community of artists who are creating their own brands, identities and companies that ARE THEM! Following the curve of what everyone else is doing will only leave you feeling empty and unfulfilled. Give yourself the chance today to do something real for your business or your brand that is YOU, inject yourself with some of your own creativity and see what happens. My guess is that it will be the best shit of your life…