“I am not creative.”
Generally speaking, most of us equate creativity with the ability to do something at an exemplary level. We believe that creative people are just the folks that move or inspire us with art, music, or theatrical performances. We think of them as being at the top of their field, or having the potential to be if only they were discovered.
The notion that being creative requires you to have a certain level of talent or a particular skillset, stifles expression before it even has the opportunity to emerge. This type of mindset causes a variety of roadblocks and an aversion to taking risks.
There may be a thing or two out there that sparks your interest, but you are reluctant to try it because you think “You aren’t good enough.”
Picture this: You happily enrolled in a “beginners” cake decorating class. You purchased all the stuff on the supply list and you have been getting Amazon deliveries for days.
You are so excited to try this thing you always wanted to do, but for some reason you just never did. You arrive early, neatly arrange your supplies on the table and watch as the others start trickling in.
You overhear someone talk about the complexities involved in working with fondant. They spent their entire weekend using it and you aren’t even sure you know what a fondant is?
Someone sits next to you and they begin scrolling through all the pictures of their most recent work and they notice you staring. They are excited that you have shown some interest and they tell you to check out all of their “beginner” work posted on Instagram.
Suddenly, you are in a panic and you check to make sure that you are enrolled in the right class. You confirm that you did and in an instant you feel like you do not belong.
The excitement of doing something new has been replaced with insecurity and the fear of being outed because obviously you are a fraud.
It didn’t take you long to discover that the class is filled with people that have a lifetime of knowledge and experience earned at their grandmother’s hip or through a steady stream of YouTube videos.
This is a difficult situation to find yourself in, but your next move represents the actions of the type of person you want to be and are trying to grow into. You remind yourself:
- To retire from the business of caring so much about what other people think, especially of you. Decide here and now that you aren’t going to live the kind of life where you miss out because of someone else’s thoughts and ideas that are probably a manifestation of their own fears and insecurities anyway.
- That being the least experienced, the one with the most underdeveloped skill/talent, or at the bottom of the class will not kill you. You will totally survive and you have the most potential for growth. Everyone starts at their own beginning.
- To focus on your goal. The work you produce is not the point here. You are learning, growing, and discovering. You are on a journey toward more joy.
- This experience could heal you. I knew a guy, who knew a guy, that built a 9-foot origami Christmas tree (it took him 9 months to complete). This remarkably ambitious endeavor was his solution to mitigating the pain associated with a recent break-up. The poor guy found himself constantly recycling images of, his now dismantled relationship, over and over and over again. He couldn’t seem to stop wondering what he could have done differently, how he was going to manage to move on, and if he was ever going to find a love that lasts. Exhausted by his thoughts, he was wise to recognize that he needed something to disrupt his negative thought pattern. This could be the thing that fully engages you, makes you forget about time, and provides you with a necessary reprieve from that thing that has been clogging your mind and shattering your heart. You deserve to know what it feels like to create and be set free. If it doesn’t come out perfectly, so what? You just spent two hours (or 9 months) where you didn’t once think about the stress of work, home, school, a broken relationship, or your personal illness. You don’t want to avoid your problems, but you do understand the need to have a little relief. This experience may be your greatest gift.
- That becoming the best version of yourself, takes courage and the cold hard truth is that everyone is scared. Why else would a person with years of experience and talent take a “beginners” class? Um, because they are scared too. They weren’t sure they were going to cut it in the “intermediate” or “advanced” class so they played it safe. So, in spite of your insecurities, childhood flashbacks of being picked last, or feeling like you will never be as good as your sibling, just be courageous and do it anyway.
If you master pushing through that gunk, you will be amazed at how things will begin to freely flow in all areas of your life. I am also certain that you don’t want to look back on your life with a lack of whimsy and mostly regret.
So, tackle the fears and toss out the opinions and criticisms of others. If your providing the opinions and criticisms that are stopping you in your tracks, then you need to stop and check yourself.
Take a risk at being more creative. Trying something new can be a tremendous source of joy. The blend of exploration and novelty is a recipe for some truly deep, personal satisfaction and you should have some of that for sure.
Maybe you just don’t know where to begin or what to try?
- First of all, do not worry about if you are good at it or not. This is about experimentation and exploration. You are on a search for things that bring you joy and enrich your life. It’s messy, imperfect, and exhilarating.
- Think about the things that you did as a kid or the things that you use to do and enjoyed. As we assume more responsibilities in life, we have a tendency to drop the things we love doing first. For some reason we think that responsible adults put all the fun things last. What kind of life is that? Pick up that instrument again or have a craft day and use a bunch of glitter that you will still be trying to vacuum out of your carpet 6 months from now. Start that book you have been dying to write or dust off that paint set (thank you Target end caps). It will be totally worth it.
- Find a “Meetup” group. “Meetup” is pretty awesome. It’s an app that gets you in touch with people in your community that are involved in all types of activities, including things that you didn’t even realize were things that people enjoyed. I typed “creativity” into the search bar and it generated tons of groups focused on crafting, painting, movement, writing, photography, creativity and spirituality, and strategies for tapping into and developing your gifts (note: If you join the group making Q-tip skeletons, please send me a pic of the finished product).
- Pay attention. Pay attention to how you feel when people share their experiences. Or what about the topics that you are drawn to and can discuss for hours? There may be an opportunity for a creative outlet lingering there. I am a firm believer in tuning in to my internal and physical cues. If someone is passionately sharing something with you and it makes you feel things, it might be a sign that you will enjoy it as well. Even if you don’t, having new experiences makes you feel alive.
- Just try stuff. How long are you going to stalk that Groupon for a glass blowing class? Buy it and try it.
- Understand the true definition of creativity. Creativity isn’t exclusive to the arts. Creativity is used to solve problems, recognize patterns, add excitement to relationships and to fuse the distinct flavors of two disparate types of cuisines into one beautiful flavor. Creativity has zero limitations (unless you put them there).
Taking the time to be more creative will not only ignite your joy, but it has the potential to minimize your stress and free up some space for happiness to creep in.
It also has the added benefit of possibly propelling you towards a passion that leads you to a purpose. Who knows? The purpose that you find might lead you down a path toward connecting to the people you need, finding the work you love, and leading a life that you are excited to live.