Last night, in the midst of birthday celebrations and lovely friends and family, I had a very invigorating conversation about creativity- and namely, that moment when you decide you aren’t “creative”.
I emphasize the word decide because I really do think it’s an active decision made- to stop trying, to shrink from the label of “creative” and ultimately to take the pressure off – from your friends, family, from yourself- there’s no need to keep exposing your vulnerability because “you’re just not creative.” I contend that everyone is creative, but some people just decide to exercise their creativity more than others.
Take for example a classroom full of little kids. Set them in front of art supplies or give them the tools to write a story, and they set to work without pretense or a worry about what others will say. They haven’t learned to be embarrassed about what they create, and haven’t started worrying what others think yet. They’re free and even proud when what they put together might be less than their expectations. But then something changes- at some point they are laughed at, or ridiculed, or decide it’s not “cool” to care about things (one of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to middle school and high school behaviors!!) and they stop creating- because in reality, that’s just one more way that the can stop making themselves vulnerable to the world.
Being vulnerable is a huge part of a creative life. When you create something, you are drawing from an idea that lives solely in your own head, and expressing this idea in a way that exposes it to critique, to criticism, and to comment. This can be terrifying!
I have always shied away from calling myself creative, or worse still, artistic. Admitting that I aspire to these labels feels like I’m projecting this false image of myself- there are people much more talented out there, and trying to put myself under the same category as them ends up making me feel like a phoney.
But why? I hate hearing my friends saying they’ve never thought of themselves as creative, so why would I allow myself to think basically the same thing? Let’s all work on it- say it loud, say it proud. You are creative.
I made this earlier this year, and keep coming back to this idea. Whenever I feel stressed or sad, I realize it’s often when I haven’t had a chance to exercise my creative muscles. I make something and always feel better.
Just a little thought I wanted to share in this very introspective time of the year. How would you like to wrap up 2012?