Brené Brown once said, “Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”
Creativity is a lot like embracing vulnerability–having the courage to reveal the innermost parts of yourself. I wish that I could tell you all that creativity is about abandoning your fears, stepping outside of your comfort zone–all the “feel good” mantras we tell ourselves every day. But I wouldn’t be being totally honest with you.
Creativity, in many ways, is about doing things afraid. A couple of years ago, I went to a women’s conference held at my church, The Father’s House in Vacaville, CA, where the discussion surrounded fears, anxiety, and everything that keeps us “stuck” where we are. One of the things we talked about was just doing things afraid, allowing ourselves to be seen right where we are, with what we have. That, undoubtedly, who we are and what we have to offer is enough.
Creativity, to me, is all about cultivating the things that make me come alive. In many ways, being creative means being able to share the depths of my heart, and the beauty of that is that there is no perspective identical to mine. One of the things I love about creatives–and people in general–is that while there might be similarities among us, no two people are the same. Every person is unique in the sense that we each view life in a different way, each shaped by our individual experiences and perspectives. No matter who it is you come across, you will always be able to leave them changed by what they have revealed to you.
Creativity is about embracing that uniqueness and embracing my ability to perceive the world in a new, different way. When I create, I am creating all that is meaningful to me, that which gives purpose and reason to my life, as if to say, “This is what makes my heart beat!”
I’ve heard it said that the art of creativity is dying. When I was asked to write this article, I was initially fearful because I am, admittedly, no expert on creativity. “What can I say that hasn’t already been said?” I thought.
And then I realized that kind of thinking is society’s problem. We are conditioned to be fearful, to be critical. We have forgotten what its like to believe in ourselves. In each other.
At some point or another, I think we’ve all faced the demon of negative self-talk, of comparing where we’re at to where others are. We start wishing for other people’s talents–their God given gifts–because “we just aren’t good enough.” We’ve become so consumed by picturesque Instagram feeds, and we think that if we were able to just get this or be this one thing, we’ll be satisfied. We’ll be happier. We start saying things like, “Oh, I wish I had their life!” or “I wish I could do that!” and a multitude of other comments we utter to ourselves that trick us into believing that we are less than we are.
Somewhere along the way, I think, we’ve lost ourselves a bit.
An essential part of being creative is being brave enough to believe in yourself and what you have to offer. Sure, among the millions of photographers, of the millions of writers, and other creative types out there, there are people who can do what you do. If you dedicate enough time to something, you can learn–perhaps perfect–any craft. The key, however, is not to fixate so intently on the fact that there are numerous people out there doing what you do, but that you are doing it in a way that no one else can.
Just because you might believe that you are lacking in one aspect of your life does not make you any less valuable. I always tell people that there are qualities in myself that no one else will have, and that there will be qualities I find in others that I won’t have. That fact does not change my value or my worth, and it certainly does not change the importance or significance of my contributions to the world.
I have always believed that God has placed specific, innate talents and gifts in every person. In us, He has placed a distinct purpose. We must start believing that what we contribute in this life–what we create–matters.
I create, first and foremost, because it is life-giving to my soul, but I think every creative also creates with the hope that what they are putting out into the world will speak to others, that will breathe life into them in some way.
Creativity, in every respect, is about taking continuous leaps of faith. I have always felt that each time I create something, I am putting my heart out on the line. Its scary, to feel exposed and vulnerable, but I also believe that the only way to be truly seen–truly understood–is to feel those things. And, ultimately, I believe that is all any of us could ever truly ask for.
words by Amanda LeMasters and photo by Clara Espe