Your Creative Spirit
As a self-admitted perfectionist, it took me some time and effort to convince myself to finally let some things go; something that, I have to admit, wasn't always easy. I'm not going to lie, I am not yet done working on this. But the more that I aim my goal at having fun instead of striving for perfection, the more enjoyable my actions become.
I think one of the first things that I wanted to be as a child was a fashion designer. I remember playing with my dolls, dressing them up, and drawing sketches of clothes that I would want them to wear. I thought for sure when I grew up I would be a fashion designer. In grade school I still dabbled here and there in arts and crafts, but I didn't take it all that seriously; it was just something fun and creative to do. Then as I grew older, my interests had changed. My logical side took over and I decided that I wanted to be a lawyer. But once I started university, my aspirations had somewhat changed once again. The point that I am trying to make here is that there are many sides to us all, the creative and the logical, the analytical and the carefree, so it is quite clear that each one of us is more than just the sum of our parts. Consequently, what that really means is that there is a creative spirit within all of us just waiting to be let out.
You may not see yourself as the artsy type, I didn't really either. But when I counted up many of my interests, all of the sudden I started to see a pattern emerge. Writing, painting, dancing, decorating, flower arranging, photography, cooking, entertaining....all showing me that there has always been much creativity within me trying to come out in a multitude of ways. But that doesn't dismiss my intellectual, logical, analytical, cynical, and practical side. Just that, when I learned to embrace and express the totality of who I was, that is when I finally felt the most fulfilled and free.
I think the main thing that stops anyone from exploring undiscovered aspects of themselves is the fear of failure. As a perfectionist myself, I can totally understand. But the fear of failure only really arises from a couple of things. First, we might be afraid to make a fool of ourselves. What will people say? What will people think? What if we fail and we feel embarrassed and judged? The thing is, when we worry too much about the opinions of others or how we will be perceived by the outside world, we stifle our creative expressions and we, essentially, psych ourselves out. We want to be so perfect that we forget why we wanted to do that thing in the first place. Second, we compare too much. When we look at the successes of others we automatically want to emulate what they have. And while this can certainly be used as a good source of inspiration, too often it becomes a trap. Comparing ourselves to others is futile because each and every one of us is unique in our own right. It doesn't matter what others have or do, or even how good they are. It would be absurd to reject your desire to paint, for example, because Rembrandt was such a damn genius; the logic just doesn't hold up. Instead, our focus needs to be more on our detachment from expectations and the simple intention of having fun. We don't have to master everything; we just need to want to try. Everyone had to start somewhere, even Michelangelo. But how will you know where your hidden talents lie if you do not at least try?
You cannot fail at being creative. That's because being creative is not something that can be truly measured. You could royally F-up and still be creative because creativity is a subjective matter. No one can really judge "creativity" either because it has no universally agreeable label or quantification. Society does try, however, to make everything measurable by dollars and cents and by "expert" opinion. But, in reality, creativity belongs to no one and everyone all at the same time. We try to compartmentalize creativity and restrain or define it through categories of function. But true creativity truly has no bounds.
A few years ago I decided that I wanted to paint. I don't remember what inspired me to do so, but the desire seemed to have come up quite spontaneously. The urge was there so I decided to try it out. But the beauty of my goal was that I had absolutely zero expectations. Maybe that's one of the reasons I was drawn to it so much; because as an over-thinker this gave me an opportunity to just be and do without worrying about the outcome. I simply wanted to play. And it was because I was not following any playbook, nor painting by numbers, that I was free to develop my own style in my own time and in my own way.
The problem that often comes up when we try something new is that we instantly start looking around for something to compare it to. We compare ourselves to those we admire. We compare ourselves to those who seem ten steps ahead. But in doing so we sometimes get discouraged by what seems like a long road ahead. We might fear the unknown, wondering if we will be wasting our time. We might fear that we will not be even half as good as we perceive others to be. We worry that we will be judged for our inadequacies and embarrassed for even trying. But what we fail to acknowledge is that any great accomplishment ultimately starts with taking that first leap into the unknown. Much of it also comes from trial and error. And a lot of it comes from perseverance in the face of criticism and rejection. Rome was certainly not built in a day.
Creativity is never about competition anyway. And if it does become about that, then we have most definitely lost our way. Every soul is unique, and every expression is too. You can't do it wrong when your one and only goal is to be creative. Even if you burn a soufflé you have still created something. So, then, let go, have fun, and you will find your niche and stride. And who knows, maybe you will also find a hidden talent (or a few) that you didn't even know existed?
So, never stop learning and never stop creating, for your soul yearns for this freedom from restriction and judgment. You may not end up a Rembrandt, but perhaps you'll become a Picasso, different but equally as expressive. Or, maybe your masterpiece will only make it as far as your own fridge, right next to the shopping list. But the outcome doesn't really matter when your goal is to experience pure joy and nothing more.
So, if you want to try something new, just do it; you have nothing to lose. Your ego can take it and you won't regret it. Now ask yourself, what feeds your soul? What have you forgotten about yourself that it is now time to remember? And what steps can you take right now to explore this side of you once again?
*All of my paintings above were created with non-toxic acrylic paint on canvas. Really easy to work with, relatively fast to dry, and easy to clean up.