My relationship with creativity has always been complicated. Growing up, the “artistic” and creative kids were those who had the best art projects. They would proudly showcase their work from their desks and our classmates would gather around to ooh and aah at their colors and their skills.
I remember always admiring them and feeling a lot of envy because my own drawings, sculptures, or crafts never compared in quality. And while I did become a part of the glee club and the dance team for several years, “creative” was still never a word I could associate with myself. “Creative” was a word reserved for those who could paint, draw, and craft.
I carried this perception of myself into adulthood. I remember making the mistake of telling a potential supervisor that I didn’t consider myself “creative” but “organized” at an interview. I was applying for an Account Manager position at an Advertising agency. Needless to say, I didn’t get the job, haha!
But all that has changed since I started to write again. When I had my first baby, I left my full time job because I wanted to be able to work from home. Writing had always been something I enjoyed, and while I did have dreams of becoming a journalist as a child, it was never a real career option until I became a mother. Now that writing is my bread and butter, it may be safe to say that my relationship with creativity has significantly improved. Words, I discovered, are my creative medium.
I still don’t use the word “creative” much to describe myself, but I know that I practice it every day. I am challenged to be creative for my job as an editor, in managing the digital marketing for my small swimsuit business, and even as a mom trying to get better at playing with her toddlers.
And so here is what I now believe. I believe that every person has the potential to be creative, and that this is expressed in ways that are unique to each individual’s talents, skills, and interests. Because while we are not all called to be painters or poets, we are all called to live lives that are creative. We are all called to live lives that are fruitful.
“Be who you were created to be, and you will set the world on fire,” says St. Catherine of Sienna. Allow me to paraphrase this a bit: be creative in the ways you have the potential to be, and you will set the world on fire.
If you’re like me, hesitant to use a word that seems to be reserved for the hipsters and the bohemians, do not dismay. There are ways to discover your own creative language, and I’ve put together a few suggestions on where you can start:
- Carry around a blank notebook and a few pens. As I writer, I’ve always been given the advice to pen my thoughts as they come, because inspiration always comes unannounced and never lingers. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve spent trying to remember a “brilliant idea” that escaped me. Keep the notebook small enough to carry with ease, but large enough to give you the space to comfortably write, draw, or brainstorm.
- Always have a book under your arm, in your back pocket, or in your purse. Some say the best inspiration comes from travel because of all the novel experiences that come with visiting a new place. While traveling everyday is an unrealistic option for most, each of us can travel in our minds with the help of our literary friends. So instead of scrolling through your social media during your downtime, pick up a book to open up your mind, and learn a new word or two while you’re at it.
- Sign up for a class. There are so many options online and offline to learn digital art, photography, crafts, and even culinary… so it is just a matter carving out the time for it. Realize your unfulfilled dreams… who knows, you may discover your hidden artistic genius. To start, check out skillshare.com and udemy.com!
- Get on Pinterest. It’s a dangerous world, and please proceed with caution… but pinterest is DIY heaven. If you’re looking for projects that will allow you to work with your hands, feel free to explore numerous options on Pinterest. But try not to be discouraged if your output doesn’t look as good as their beautifully curated and arranged photos right away. Baby steps, always. And if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again! 😉
- Step outside. There’s nothing quite like disconnecting from work, digital screens, and even just people, to reconnect with your creative source. Clear your mind by taking a walk, going for a run, or even just sitting on a park bench to give yourself the breathing space daily for that extra dose of inspiration.
The potential of every human person is astounding. If you’re still hesitant to explore your creative medium, think about this. We all have the same number of hours in a day as Da Vinci, Einstein, and Mother Teresa did in their lifetimes. Imagine all the good we could do, all the amazing things we could create, if we just had the courage to start, then follow through (this is the most important part). just like they did.
I believe that our relationship with creativity need not be complicated. We must overcome the biases we have against ourselves, and, in the words of Elizabeth Gilbert: Be BRAVE. The world depends on it!