“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt” – Sylvia Plath
This quote is truer than true, is it not? I can’t count how many times I’ve heard people say, “I’m just not a creative kind of person…” But what does that even mean? Creativity picks some people over others? There are many misconceptions about creativity lurking about in this world, and this is a rather prevalent one. Here are my thoughts about the truth of creativity.
Let’s just think about this for a moment. What is creativity? A personality trait? A talent? A skill? An expression? First of all, creativity is an ability which every person is born with. Remember the days when there wasn’t enough paper (or wall space) in the world to contain every idea that your little immature brain could conjure up? No one had to tell us to think outside the box; we just did it.
But somehow the way we began to see ourselves changed. Over the years of grade school, the kids who thought up all the make-believe recess games, colored outside the lines and broke the mold of typical Mother’s Day crafts were labeled “creative.” The other kids, who perhaps preferred crosswords over coloring books and stuck to good ol’ stick figures, were left to the side and expected to become lawyers and doctors. When people are labeled “creative” or “not creative,” their capacity to imagine the impossible, to use things in new ways and to express their unique way of looking at the world is limited. This capability is certainly not lost forever, but it is definitely restricted.
Once we left our childhoods, creativity became a skill. Some continued to pursue it, while others left it alone as they realized that sitting and waiting for a good idea to come does not result in good ideas. To be creative means to actively seek and create solutions, images, concepts and dreams that are sometimes uncomfortable, outlandish, awkward, impractical, fresh or boring. Yes, some of the ideas that float out of our brainstorming messes will be stupid. But after fifty bad ideas, who’s to say the fifty-first won’t be a groundbreaking innovation?
But if creativity is just a skill, where does that spark come in? Creativity is a skill in that it is more than just a concept and can be refined and increased over time. But what else? Well, creativity at its core is an expression of humankind – a response to the world both outside and inside ourselves. It is a way of living and for many, the purpose of living.
No matter your hobbies, talents, occupation or appearance, you can be creative in how you think, live, work and play. Creativity is not a snobby, exclusive party that you weren’t invited to. It’s an inerrant part of who we are as people. Don’t limit yourself to how people see you or how you see yourself. So you’re not an artist? You don’t need to draw or paint like anyone else; make up your own methods. You’re out of ideas? Get out that notebook and start writing out the zaniest, most impossible ideas you can think of and see where that leads. Don’t discount your ideas and dreams. You are as worthy as anyone else.