Dear Teenager; You are a Creative Creature.
The concept of creative living has been finding it’s way into my life recently, like the universe has been trying to send me a sign; I had never heard of the term ‘creative living’ before and in the last month if I’ve read or heard it once, I heard it 10 times.
Even this week alone, in the middle of everything else I’ve been doing I have found myself thinking continuously about creativity and what it means. I started reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert because I saw Essie Button mention it in her monthly favourites, and in the same week I start reading a book about creative living I get sent on a training course for work which turns out to be about creative living! It got me thinking about my own creativity, and not only that, but my attitude towards creativity, which then got me thinking about the attitudes of the world about creativity.
We are creative beings by nature, even when we are babies, without anyone modelling how to be creative we attempt to mark make; I am sure we all know of a baby that has left a messy hand-print or prints in places their mother did not desire, but at the heart of it, that is creativity, the child is making a mark.
When I think back to being a child I was such a creative creature; I loved to draw, write stories and poems, make up songs, role-play in my playhouse with my younger sister, I even wrote plays that I would get them to act out and force my parents to watch. When it came to creativity I wanted to push myself continuously to see where I could take a thing next, even my plays went from little stories to small shows with lighting sequences (a disco ball), dances and musical accompaniments (me playing keyboard badly, or a dramatic piece of music on a CD player); the curtains would be drawn in the playroom and play-books would be made for the performance and my adoring audience (my parents) would be full of praise at the final curtain. My sisters and I had wild imaginations, we were (and still are) each others best friends growing up, we saw something wonderful in every ordinary thing and place.
I started to think about when I stopped being this creative creature, at what point did inspiration die and imagination become lazy? The more I thought about it, and from reading Big Magic, the more I realised and began to accept that creativity never left me, I just chose to lock it away. I think we are really supportive of children being creative and using their imaginations, but as they start to grow up we instead become support of them being practical and realistic. When I was in my early teens I was still really creative, I studied art in school (and actually cared about it), I loved studying poetry, I had a poetry journal, I wrote songs, I drew cartoons and I doodled on every surface possible. Then came the talk of college and suddenly creativity had to go in a box, I never once listened to that voice that said “go study something creative, write, draw, make art, sing”; to that voice I said “No. I am not talented enough, I would never make a practical living off that”. I focused more on my studies and less on my so called “hobbies”, I went through college and now I see layers of dust on notepads and instruments that once never had a chance to collect dust. The older I got, the less acceptable I believed it was for me to be creative.
However, I don’t believe that any more; as I said, we are creative beings by nature and no matter how much we try to suppress that through hard working practical lives, it will eventually start to leak through. If childhood me met adult me, I feel she would be disappointed with what I have become, not necessarily because of the job I do but because I don’t do creative things just for the sake of it; I think she would find me to be boring and dull, wasting her potential. Keeping this in mind as I embark on a new chapter of my life, I wish to undo the error I made in my teens by thinking that creativity is just a ‘hobby’.