A Note About This Feature: Why Wednesdays is a Move Eat Create weekly feature determined to turn the mid-week doldrums upside down and celebrate things I love to do and blog about. Currently, the focus is on creating and creativity.
I’m not sure if others can relate to this, but for the longest time I was really confused about creativity. I didn’t actually know that I was confused at the time. In fact, I thought I had it all figured out. I’ll take you through it.
When I was young, I learned that there were essentially two types of people. Left-brained versus right-brained. A-type versus B-type. Creative versus not-so-creative. I easily classified myself as a left-brained, type A, not-so-creative person. I was analytical, for sure. I was no doubt a rationale person. A planner. I still am. That piece of my identity, I was not confused about. The problem was that I had essentially learned that being such a person was mutually exclusive from being a creative person.
And learning this ‘truth’, I short-changed myself.
In elementary school, creativity occurred in art class. Those that excelled could sketch with talent and paint with beauty. Those that didn’t (i.e. me) slapped stuff on a paper and waited out the tortuous period, anticipating the bell to ring.
In high school, creativity occurred in electives. There was art again. But there was also photography, drama, and music. My vision of what it meant to be creative expanded – but just ever so slightly. I tried these things. I really did. And, I generally failed miserably. I still couldn’t create anything beautiful from chalk or pencils or paint. I was way too insecure and shy to get on a stage, and musical instruments were like foreign objects to me. If it wasn’t a triangle with a little wand to hit it with, I wasn’t going near it.
By the time I reached early adulthood, I was entrenched in the mindset that I was simply not born with creative ability and would never obtain it.
It wasn’t my thing. When I thought about it, this disappointed me, but it was something I accepted.
But oddly enough, as I moved through the world, met other people, read new things, and took different jobs, I realized just how confused I had been about what it means to be creative. Creativity is not limited to art or theater. Creativity is a mental process. It’s a method of thinking and living that involves exploring new concepts, generating ideas, trying new things, and being adventurous in experimenting with thoughts and actions.
Once I understood this, it became clear to me that I am a indeed a creative person AND a type-a, left-brained, planner, too.
I’m creative when I problem-solve with clients at work about how to make their lives more safe and comfortable. I’m creative when I wade through my apprehension to see what it feels like to work a sewing machine. I’m creative when I see a recipe and start thinking about what spices to swap for one another and what vegetables I might want to use that aren’t included in the instructions. I’m creative when I read a book and let my mind wander into a world of fantasy or when I generate ideas for blog post while out on a run.
I am creative all the damn time.
I bet you are, too. And, you may not even notice it.
My creative pursuits are most evident these days in my knitting, cooking/baking, and writing. (By the way, I’ve always been a writer, but never thought of it as creative. Since I generally wrote non-fiction-type things I didn’t think it counted. Funny.) But, as I’ve shared, it shows up all over the place. Some of my most creative moments don’t necessarily have any tangible end-product. Brainstorming with co-workers and solving problems with clients is a whole world of creative energy in its own right.
Moral of this story?
It took me to practice creativity in my thinking to understand what creativity really is. Doing so has opened up a whole new sense of self and a fascinating abundance of possibilities.
To read the previous series in this column, select the ‘Why Wednesdays’ tag in the right side column. The prior series in this column explored the topic of running.