I’m not creative
I’ve never really thought of myself as “creative”. My 3-year-old niece can draw better stick figures than I can; my photos are almost without exception slightly blurry and slightly off-center; and I often don’t understand the art in museums so I just have to nod my head and vaguely mumble how terribly interesting that artist’s interpretation was. Also, the only creative competition I’ve ever won was in the 6th grade: it was an improv talent competition and I won for “acting” like I could only sing Whitney Houston’s And I will Always Love You terribly off key (that’s a testament to both my bad singing and my bad acting). I played the violin and quit. I played the clarinet and quit. I danced and quit. I think you get the idea that I was really never very good at any creative endeavor. But I honestly didn’t mind it. I didn’t identify myself as wanting or needing to be creative and barely thought about it. I was a serious person — I loved philosophy and politics and the game of business. Who needed art when there was strategy and calculation. The story I told myself was that I wasn’t an artist, that I didn’t want to be, and that was that. Never really gave it another thought.
Last year a friend invited me to join a group of women to “reinvigorate our creative sides” by going through the book The Artist’s Way. I assumed it would be like all my other book clubs where nobody read the book but everybody ate the pastries and drank the wine (spoiler alert: it wasn’t). In turned out to be one of the most pivotal and life-changing moments of my life.
At the beginning of the book, I assumed that I’d go through the exercises from the angle of being a writer as my creative talent. I’m an okay writer and it seemed the only artistic craft worth pursuing for me. It was practical and useful. I was all about practical and useful in helping me achieve respectable goals. As I went along, week after week, I realized something critical though: I don’t have a passion for writing. I don’t have that gut-wrenching urge that I simply must write. I don’t feel unexpressed without writing or that a piece of me is missing (at least, this is how one author described to me what a passion for writing feels like). I don’t honestly like it much at all. Why would I want to sit alone in front of my computer, frustrated when I could be out talking with someone, debating and discussing and learning and growing?
So what is art, anyway?
Since writing wasn’t going to be my “art”, I went back to the drawing board and started to think: what actually is an artist? What is art? It got very philosophical in some of my journaling but I finally realized that, to me, art is creating something unique and an artist is being the creator. That simple.
Suddenly, I began to see art all around me and I started to feel empowered as a great creator. I took joy in arranging a photo wall in my hallway. I started spending my evenings relaxing with adult coloring books. I painted and gardened and cooked, and for the first time pursued art in order to experience creating something (not to have a perfect end product). It was fun! And weird, since I’d spent so much time being serious about the end results. I used to live by the motto: you did or you didn’t achieve the goal. No excuses. The idea of pursuing something just to pursue it was a breakthrough.
I’m an artist!
That idea of creating to create freed me. For the first time in my life, I was interested and intrigued. I wanted to be an artist. I saw it for what it was – a way to uniquely express yourself to the world. I continued journaling about art and being an artist and realized I was still too narrowly defining art and artist. I was only allowing pre-defined notions of art to exist as possibilities (a painter, a singer, a performer). I wanted to open my mind up to new possibilities of what an artist could be and create. What could I, Lisa, uniquely create for this world (that is of value and interest. The old me isn’t completely dead, folks!)? And then an idea struck me – ideas! My form of art is that I can offer interesting ideas to the world. I have ideas literally every second of the day. I can’t stop them from coming, which is part of the reason I knew I had to be an entrepreneur. I just look at everything and see an idea for doing it differently. I think it’s fun to figure out people’s problems and find solutions for them (yes, I’ve actually been doing thought experiments as a hobby for years. That’s our little secret, k?).
My annoying-ness paid off
How do I come up with new ideas? Easy: I’ve always been an extraordinarily/annoyingly curious person. I gobble up novels and biographies to see the world through other people’s perspectives (actually, I read non-stop). I ask people questions about their lives, their jobs, their emotions, their dreams, and their relationships. I travel. I’ve moved a lot. I try new things on a regular basis, be it new foods or new movies or new exercise classes. I collect experiences. I discovered that my mind can take all of these varying inputs of information and put them together in a way that others haven’t looked at it before. New ideas, new solutions, new inventions. I like the puzzle of solving for it.
My creative superpower is…
… experience collection and idea invention. That’s why helping you to design your best life is actually the best job fit for me in the entire world. Design is all about loving to solve problems and coming up with innovative solutions. Consider your life my next fun project!
What’s your creative superpower? Tell me in the comments below.