Maybe you were told you aren’t creative.
Maybe you listened way back when and started to agree. You gave up and figured the world was right: only some people are creative, only some people are artists, only some people can build the ideas they see in their mind.
Welcome to the club. We all listened to that malarkey when we were kids. But guess what? The world was wrong.
Creativity isn’t a finite resource or a golden ticket gifted to certain people at birth and denied to others.
Creativity lives in all of us, and grows when it is nurtured well like a garden. As Julia Cameron —author of The Artist’s Way—writes, “Creativity is our true nature.” Maya Angelou reminds us, “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”
Part of the trouble is that we don’t always recognize creativity. We think of it as something that only results in a play or a book or a sculpture. We forget that creativity is a process, not an end. Creativity is a means by which we produce something. The word “create” comes from the Latin word creatus which means “to make, bring forth, produce, beget.” It means to grow. If you are growing something, you are creating; hence, you are creative.
We are all creative people in some aspect of our lives—be it math, physics, business, construction, you name it. So many activities (not just the arts) require a nimble, inspired mind.
Think about it.
A book is born of words, paper, and imagination. A painting comes from paint, canvas, and concept. A business develops out of service, sweat, and tears. And children grow under the committed guidance of their parents.
Maybe we need to find our way back to acknowledging, appreciating, and exercising our inherent creativity. Expressing yourself is a key element to a happy life. As Broadway star Sandra Joseph says, “Many of us are stifled creatively. We have an innate desire to be seen and heard, and to connect, but we were wounded as young people. One unkind remark in childhood can render you permanently paralyzed and mute. It takes tremendous courage to dive back in. Creative expression in any form is risky to the ego. It will make you question your worth: What if I fail? What if I’m no good? What if I make a fool of myself?”
The wonderful thing is that we can ameliorate a good deal of that fear through practice, by acknowledging our “let’s make something” spirit and choosing to get our mind going and maybe our hands a little dirty or covered in paint.
Actively choosing such a path offers vital benefit to our well-being, and it gives us the opportunity to adjust our own headspace. The poet Richard Blanco, MFA, reminds us about creativity: “It’s more than just learning the rules. It’s how to manage your own psychology to get to that space.” And getting to that space—that playground of the mind—is a rejuvenating trip, at any point in life. As Elizabeth Gilbert writes, “So this, I believe, is the central question upon which all creative living hinges: Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?”
Why not muster the courage to embrace your creative nature? Why not sign up for a class, hire a coach, or start a journal? And the next time you hear your inner critic start to say, “Oh, me? I’m not creative”— turn down that voice. Remember that you are creative. You create your life every day and what it looks like is up to no one but you.