Courage & Creativity

Something that I’ve only heard a few times recently and have only fully realized and appreciated today is this:

You can’t be creative without being courageous.

Whether it’s sharing a new idea, or starting a painting, or continuing that short story you had left years ago – it takes a certain kind of courage to let your creativity flow. And creativity does flow. But it also comes in crashing waves, then disappears into nothingness. It can be frustrating, but that’s what happens when we don’t let it simply flow. Creativity is like a muscle that you need to exercise regularly, otherwise it won’t work for you.

(Or do you work for creativity? Elizabeth Gilbert seems to think so. But that’s a question to be addressed at another time.)

I honestly think that everybody needs to exercise their creativity on the regular. Whether it’s through music, visual art, writing, storytelling, dance, strategic planning, teaching… anything can be done creatively. Because we were meant to create, to deconstruct, to recreate, to envision, to see the world and ourselves with different and multiple lenses. And I think that’s beautiful… And scary. Being creative is so damn scary, because it’s so damn vulnerable. You’re allowing others to see a side of you that society doesn’t necessarily like or pay attention to. You’re bleeding on a page, canvas, screen, whatever, and allowing others to see and feel it. You don’t know how they’ll react. You have specific expectations of this piece, and whether you find it garbage or consider it to be your baby, you have to deal with whatever is staring back at you.

Not all art is good art. There is bad art. But we have to remember that it is all art. And that’s a brave and beautiful thing.

Still afraid of what will happen if you express yourself and create? Here’s one of the most powerful passages from The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, a book I urge anybody to pick up. It deals with courage by looking at Resistance and what we need to do in order to look past it and make art. I say “look past” instead of “overcome,” simply because Resistance will always be there. And that’s okay. We just need to be able to be vulnerable with Resistance and do what we were meant to do.

I know it’s difficult, but there are so many wonderful possibilities on the other side of fear.

 

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Imposter Syndrome, Part Three

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
– Marianne Williamson

I made a post on Thoughtful Minds United about not feeling good enough. This is something that everybody comes across at least once a year. For me, it’s about once a month. (Whenever I don’t have a job, it happens once a week or more often.) Before, I had thought that this was abnormal, that I was still deeply insecure about myself and my (in)abilities. Now, after reflecting on this imposter syndrome and how common it is in people, I don’t think that feeling inadequate once a month is wrong. That’s the thing about feelings: they’re never wrong.

Sure, they often suck. Feelings are pretty damn awful and can get in the way of you living your life. But feelings are a part of life and you need all of them to live a full life (as you find out in Inside Out – great movie!). The unpleasant feelings are especially good at letting you know what’s actually going on inside your head, or in your subconscious, or in your heart or soul. Are you feeling insecure? Maybe you’re really afraid of taking a risk in your career. Are you feeling lonely? Maybe you’re sad that you haven’t made a meaningful connection in a while. Maybe you’re afraid of getting hurt if you try to make such a connection.

I find that fear is often an underlying emotion, at least with me. It takes some digging, but whenever I get pangs of loneliness or inadequacy, I discover that they’re both fueled by fear. I’m afraid of being alone and not being understood or loved. I’m afraid of not living up to the expectations that others have for me or to the dreams I have for myself. And fear is a powerful thing.

I’ve even felt afraid of what will happen once I make more changes to become that person I want to be – even if it means becoming a better person. Yes, I am afraid of being great. I am afraid that I’ll be so successful that I won’t be myself again and I’ll lose my family and friends.

So what happens when fear takes over?

You meet it with curiosity and patience. You don’t hide from it, push it away, or bring another emotion to distract yourself from it. Because it’ll still be there to haunt you until you fully and authentically acknowledge it. And when you do, you can learn from it. You can push on, walk run crawl go forward – as long as you keep going. You can take breaks when needed. But giving up on finding that fulfillment and holding on to it? Not an option.

Easier said than done, obviously, but I’m working on it. Are you?

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3