I have a confession to make... creativity scares me. Not the “monster in the dark of night” scared sort of way, but in the, "I'm scared to fail" or “look ridiculous” or “be laughed at” sort of way. I came to this realization through one of those “aha moments” when I was asked the question a few months ago, “what happened that changed your path from using your creative self to acting is if it does not exist?” She asked me this question because she could see a creative spirit in me that I was ignoring. I’m not sure how she saw it… if it was how I dressed, or my tattoos, or that I change my hair color with the change of season. Maybe it was the way I carried on a conversation with her, or how I answered her questions that led her to this incredibly poignant question. When I heard her words an image instantly appeared in my mind. At first I silently thought to myself, "why this particular life event"? It felt silly and foolish, it was so long ago and felt so insignificant; and then it took just a few moments of silence between us for the feelings that were attached to that image to surface and became uncomfortably fresh once again.
I was in high school, a very small school where everyone knew everyone, and my art class had a display of our work along the hallway for all to see. I arrived at school one morning to find that somebody decided to destroy my drawing, a piece that I had been proud of and had dedicated many hours to. My black and white pointillism art was splattered with red paint. I remember feeling embarrassed as I walked down the hall and saw that my art had been publicly humiliated for all to see. I felt secretly laughed at and somehow betrayed by my peers. I couldn't understand why someone would be so cruel. They might as well have splattered me with red paint. This was not just some paper and pen project, this was my creation, my work, my vulnerability. I remember keeping that piece for a long time and then finally one day I tossed it in the trash. I suspect this is likely when creative timidity and self doubt crept into my world. My fear of being judged, not liked, ridiculed and laughed at all wrapped up in one creative crashing package.
So what purpose did this self reflection and the “aha moment” serve? Why did my mind travel there? Because I believe this was when I started to build walls to protect what I create and in the process I hid some of the real me for self preservation. I believe that I subconsciously decided that conforming to my surroundings was much safer than taking creative risks; and in the meantime, I was not being true to myself. Conforming began to choke out the part of me that I actually liked.
Today I am learning to be a better me – I need to be the real me, the quirky, complicated, idealistic, intensely introspective, wear my heart on my sleeve, creative me. This is a tough lesson to be learning later in life, but better today than tomorrow. I could let regret complicate things and hold me back to have a “pity party” or a “what if wine fest”, but I won’t, at least, not today.
Take my lesson and reflect upon it. It is never too late to find courage in your individuality, find strength in your uniqueness, and find freedom in who you are.