Are You Creative?

by Penni L Smith on February 9, 2013

Many people underestimate their creativity. Some deny it completely: “Oh, I’m not creative.” Others will dismiss or diminish it: “Oh, I just do _____. It’s nothing.” We rate what we do, and find it lacking. Creativity, however, is a universal trait, part of what makes us human.

Paintbrush and paletteWe often have a narrow definition of what creativity means. The creative people are the artists and authors and musicians; maybe a few other categories. Yet there are so very many ways to be creative. And face it–is there any one of us who has not danced around the room when no one else was in the house? That’s being creative.

What makes something creative? For example, some people find creativity through cooking. They enjoy the process of combining ingredients to produce something delicious. They may also enjoy how they arrange the result on the plate. Some make the food artistic, sculpting cakes or manipulating sugar into glorious forms. For others, however, cooking is strictly utilitarian. They combine ingredients to make something to eat. They may make a cake, but it’s out of need, and they find no particular joy as they write “Happy Birthday” across it.

First, I think, creativity involves expressing something about ourselves. What we create conveys something of our essence. We may not recognize this or even be able to identify it or articulate what it is, but it is there. We feel a sense of “that’s me,” a personal identification.

That’s also why we feel so vulnerable in our creativity. The thought of someone seeing us as we dance around the room fills us with fear or shame. We don’t feel our efforts are worthy. So we put what we produce beyond our definition of what is creative. Or, if we can’t do that, then we label it inferior. I see this a lot with writers. They will say they aren’t really a writer because they haven’t achieved this or that level. Sure, there are degrees of skill and talent. But even at the most basic level, a person is still creating.

Creation also involves some satisfaction of the deep longing to create, and some joy in the accomplishment. When I was a software developer, I felt satisfied in it as a creative outlet. Code might seem utilitarian and cold, not creative. But I delighted in the design of the programs I produced, how they looked and operated, and how people interacted with them. I also enjoyed the satisfaction of how I solved a coding problem, the elegance of my solution. Most of my cooking, however, is utilitarian–I’m just trying to make a meal. Still, there is that moment when the items come together perfectly, and that sense of joy and satisfaction emerges.

And perhaps creativity also involves the idea of sharing. When my cooking is creative, I want to share it with others. Though I may never make that dish for someone else, I usually have a brief fantasy about it. And, as I think about it, that’s a component of everything creative I do, the desire, if not the reality, to share it with others. Even when we feel our efforts are inferior, that longing is still there. We might cringe if someone saw us dancing, but in our minds, we are on stage.

An expression of our essence. Satisfaction and joy in the accomplishment. A desire to share what we produce. These are the components of creativity. And we ALL are creative. Please, don’t diminish your efforts. Enjoy the satisfaction of whatever you produce. And consider being vulnerable and sharing it with someone trustworthy.

How about you? How are you creative? How do you feel about it?

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