It can be hard to accept yourself as a creative person. You might feel that you are different in the way that you think. Maybe you wish that you weren’t so sensitive. Perhaps in your job you feel like you are a square peg in a round hole, but you can’t afford not to be in that round hole.
Even when we embrace our creative side the ‘not good enough’ serpent appears. You compare yourself to other people. They have a publishing deal; they live from selling their art; they have a recording contract. You begin to despair because you do not have the same or are not as good as the ‘they’ to which you are comparing yourself.
Only I can write like me
One of my struggles over the past few months is accepting me that I can only write like me.
I have learned so much from other writers and I love reading articles on Medium.com about writing, self-improvement and productivity. While I have learned lots of useful tips, the downside of this is that it is easy to slip into thinking that I have to have a specific morning routine, write a certain number of words a day or have a publishing schedule like some of the people I read. If I’m not doing it like them then I’m doing it wrong and I’ll never be as successful as them. They have thousands of followers and sign up hundreds of people to their list every month. I don’t. Does that mean that I am not as good as them?
I have sometimes found myself being jealous of younger writers who worked on their craft in their teens and their twenties. I was too busy being out and about and having a good time when I was this age and I didn’t start writing until I was thirty three years old.
In this article I compared myself to one of my favourite writers on Medium who is significantly younger than me. When I wrote the list of things that were unique about me I realised that I was a pretty cool person and that all these elements of me make me the writer that I am today. No one else has that exact combination of life experience so no-one else can write like me.
What if we don’t need fixing?
When we are striving towards a goal, or to improve ourselves, or to achieve something that feels impossible, it is easy to be constantly dissatisfied with who we are and how we are. It is easy to look at where we lack and wish that we could hurry up and fix ourselves. Then life would be so much better!
But what if we didn’t need fixing? What if we were just fine just as we are? How would that positively affect your creativity?
This led me to think of more questions. By the way – I don’t have answers for all of these but they are worth pondering.
- What would it take for you to realise how wonderfully unique you are?
- Can you forgive yourself for your past mistakes and choices you made in the past?
- Can you turn these negative experiences into your greatest treasure?
Then I arrived at this question:
If you were free to be the person you truly are, what creative opportunities would that open up for you?
I think that this is a scary question. It requires us to peel away the layers of our defences and look at our deeply hidden desires. We might need to go back to our childhood and think about how we liked to play and what our dreams were then. We may need to access a time before we started conforming to what the world expected of us, before we adopted adult strategies of ‘fitting in’ and ‘being responsible’.
For me this question takes me back to the work I am doing. I have returned to working on a novel which came out of the time when I was a single thirtysomething living in Central London. It is scary and daunting. I have no idea whether I can make it better than the six drafts that I did from 2000 to 2008. Deep down I have always wanted to get the story and the main character out into the world; I want her to be able to tell her story. So I have to get on with it and just plod away, doing my best with it each day.
What is your deeply held dream? How can you be the person you truly are?
Over to you
I’m going to ask that question again. If you were free to be the person you truly are, what creative opportunities would that open up for you? Share in the comments what this question means to you.
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Great article. I always wanted to act and I did some adult classes a few years ago and ended up being in a play as the lead role! I forgot some lines but it was amazing. I then gave up the classes as the school stopped doing them. I never found another school as they needed you to audition and I was too scared! I’d love to do more….
Hi Claire. Well done for taking those classes. The thing that passed through my mind as I read your comment was – I wonder what would give you more confidence to audition for another school? It is natural to be scared of such things. Lots of professional actors are too.
You might need to do something like hire an acting coach to prepare you to do an audition. If you were cast in the lead role in the past you must have been pretty good so you can definitely do this again.
Good luck with it
Thanks for a thought provoking article Cali. I am struggling to go back to a time where I wasn’t trying to conform or fit in even in early childhood. Bit sad really. The person who I really am is a big one too. i still don’t know, I have many roles but is this my true essence? I always thought I was not free to be creative but now I make sure I am. It requires a degree of selfishness. I am a nurse. I am a wife. I am a mother, a sister, friend, daughter in law, a step daughter, a grandmother and at times a complete pain in the neck probably ! I am an artist. There, I have said it therefore it must be true. I am gradually emerging from the depths of conformity. I have dared to pick up my talent and it is taking me somewhere, I don’t know where but it’s interesting and exciting and scary. Some people embrace it , some people resent it but I know that if I ignore the doubters and critics and just do it I will perhaps learn who I truly am . And if people can’ t accept me for that then they aren’t people who I want in my life anyway. Its taken me 51 years to reach this conclusion, half a life time or more. But at least it’s a conclusion I reached before it’s too late and I am looking forward to the next 40 years or so.
Good luck to all you creators out there trust yourself and live your dreams. Don’t leave it too late. It’s ok to do what you want to do because it is YOUR life !
Hi Joy. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. Yes, you are an artist. Well done for holding out on your path in spite of the critics and doubters. I am learning to be better on that journey. I’ve also learnt that much of the criticism and doubting is from me so I am improving on that too. Thank you for your encouragement. Cali xx