07 May To Create or Not to Create
My first conclusion is that creativity is not convenient. It does not “fit in”, as whatever we create is a unique expression of ourselves and therefore makes us “stand out” (anyone else shudder at the sound of these words?). Creativity sometimes requires us to stop what we are doing and write, draw or sing something, no matter what time of the day or night it is. Creativity can also make us feel suffocated in a boring routine job or stare at a blank page, not seeing a way out.
My second conclusion is that Creativity is “messy”, full of greyish, out of comfort zones, and there is no real guide book or process to help us through it.
Robert Bly’s interpretation of the Frog Princess (or Prince) story as a symbol for Creativity really spoke to me. The Frog is not as developed or civilised, it is squishy, ugly and clumsy, it tends to slip out of our hands and we cannot control it. It can represent the parts of ourselves that we are ashamed of, and the shame we feel when we first get into creative work. We may feel that we are an “inadequate” person.
Some of us seem to be more comfortable with the label “creative” than others. I would therefore like to invite you to notice throughout the day, the week, the month ahead, what activities bring you joy, give you butterflies (the nice kind) and make your heart sing. Then maybe see if you could actually label them “creative”? I noticed that doing so can help us break away from the “us (the “non-creative”) vs them (the “creative”) mentality. It can alleviate this feeling of separateness and our tendency to try and categorise people (including ourselves).
There seems to be a certain amount of pressure associated with the word “creative”, it’s as if “creative” people need to behave, talk, maybe even dress, a certain way and definitely produce “stuff”. However, even tying up your hair is creative, so is choosing your outfit and jewellery, taking a beautiful photo, writing a letter or email to a loved one, doodling, singing in the shower, making your own soap, cooking a tasty dish, or creating a new yoga or massage sequence. The list is endless!
I have definitely never put myself in the “creative” category, even though interestingly most of my friends would probably describe me as creative. I like maths and admin (yes we exist) and I have always seen myself as the grounded, practical one. If I am honest, I think that staying away from Creativity felt like the safer option for me. While doing practical activities, I do not need to expose myself or share any deep emotions, I can hide and not be seen. I have always secretly admired artists and wondered how they had the courage to open themselves up to the world and share their inner thoughts, emotions and dreams.
I feel like I was almost “forced” into writing when I launched my website exactly 5 years ago today. I had “no choice” but to write the content for the website (a very stressful and agonising process for me), and everyone said that I “should” have a blog too. It took me over 6 months to write my first blog post and I will let you guess how many times I reread it and checked it before posting it! I did OK in school with writing and art, and I do remember a few pieces standing out, where I really managed to express deep emotions. However I never thought that I had any serious talent or that it was even worth pursuing. Creativity has always felt like a luxury and an indulgence to me, not a necessity. I wonder how many of us feel like that about our joy and happiness, are they luxuries too? How important are they to us and do we feel that we deserve them?
I now love the feeling of joyous freedom that I get when I am writing (that took a while, believe me). Words feel like wings, and even though they are never “perfect”, they take me wherever my mind and my heart want to go, there are no limits.
The challenges for me come when there are deadlines (or no deadlines), when I need to share what I have created with the outside world, and especially when I ask for feedback. Does anyone else feel like they shrink, crumple up into a heap and feel like a total “loser” when they receive (even constructive) feedback? It is something that I am working through. It is still terrifying for me to be really “seen”. My fear comes up that people will see any ugly cracks or imperfections that I have been “hiding”, and then judge me, or even worse not like me!
The Dalai Lama admitted in an interview that he does sometimes get anxious before public speaking. When he was asked how he overcame that feeling of anxiety, he replied that he reminded himself why he was doing it, that his hope was that his talk would help people. This truly inspires me to keep going with my various endeavours, as I know that I am helping at least myself, and hopefully some other people too.
I am currently writing a (Survival) Guide to (New) Motherhood book and I am really excited about it, but I am also battling feelings of insecurity. Who am I to write this? I am not an expert, I am not a “writer”. (For those of you who don’t know about the impostor syndrome check out The Charisma Myth by Olivia Fox Cabane). It also feels like a daunting task and a lot of work, time and energy involved. What keeps me going is the hope and dream that it will help new mothers (and fathers) feel less alone, less like a failure. I would love all new mothers (and fathers) to feel connected, supported and worthy. I really hope that this dream helps me through the ups and downs of writing and publishing a book!