I don’t paint or draw, or sketch. I don’t strum or bang, or tune. I don’t invent characters, inhabit characters, or become a character. I don’t play with colors, play with notes, or star in plays. I am not what is classically termed a “creative type”.
I do take pictures, write musings, and play with clay. I love to make people laugh and enjoy a moment. I don’t do any of these things well enough to make a living at it. I wasn’t trained classically, but I have training. I can’t read music, but I like listening to a great song. I’m not a “creative mind”, but I am creative. Every day.
In school my favorite classes were the arts classes, when I could take them without feeling embarrassed about my skill level. When you’re in school, aren’t you constantly embarrassed about everything? Or was that just me?
I didn’t do super well in academics during my K-12 years. It wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t particularly good either. I struggled and was told to focus. I worked hard to progress slowly and was told I had potential. I had a hard time understanding why things were so hard for me to understand.
It turns out, in grade 12, I was diagnosed with a mild/moderate level of ADD. I could function, but had troubles that the majority of kids didn’t. I was smart, but couldn’t buckle down in the traditional sense. The fact that I hadn’t failed or done worse was a testiment to how creative I had already become. I didn’t have as much trouble as some did, but I had enough to be able to understand how hard it could be.
See, learning differently forces you to find ways to fit into the grand plan of a state mandated academic curriculum. This seems quite logical—if you can’t get someplace the same way as everyone else, but you’re still expected to get there—you gotta figure out a new way to do it. If you do a little research you’ll discover a lot of famous creative types have different levels of learning hindrances—dyslexia, ADD and others. They are generally remarkably smart people, who have made it far within their respective careers because they only ever think outside the box. They don’t know how to be in the box. What box anyway? Who made this box, and why was it necessary?
When you have a mind which insists upon making things difficult, you have to become creative just to get by, and be at the same level as everyone else. You struggle to get things that other people just come by naturally. Basic things like finishing a reading section without having to go back. It is a kind of creativity that is melded into everyday life so well that it gets overlooked. It is a inarguable point that proves everyone has their own superpower of creativity- we all have something that we do differently, creatively, uniquely.
That I why I take such issue when more traditionally “creative” people are given free reign to behave differently. The “tortured artistic soul” is valued higher than others who are creative in the way they do more mundane things. I mean, really, why should someone who draws well or makes up silly voices, or is good at stringing notes together be given more deference then someone who has a magical way with numbers, or had invented a new way of making their office run efficiently? To me the level of creativity is the same.
I live and work in LA—the land of the beautiful and creative people being worshipped and given whatever they want just because they are beautiful and creative. I have come to accept this reality (most days) out of necessity. What kills me about this: the people who are worshiping are often even MORE creative and skilled then those being worshipped. It’s just not in the same recognizable ways. A painting is created, and is a masterwork—but someone has to figure out how to get that noticed and sold. That part of the process can take just as much energy and creative thinking as the painter did.
We all have something special and creative within us. It’s not always glamorous or sexy. Sometimes its just figuring out a different way to lay out a spread sheet so the information is easier to read, but it’s still creative. There’s creativity all around us, in each of us. Sometimes it was learned out of necessity, sometimes it just comes naturally, but it’s there. And it’s damn cool.