Thoughts: Creativity and Labels

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about creativity and my purpose in life and how my creativity fits into that purpose. I’ve felt very stuck, almost paralyzed with the notion that I’m not doing anything of significance and that most of what brings me joy in my life does little to impact others and the world in any helpful or meaningful way.

Crisis of Identity: Why am I here? What am I meant to do? How can I make a difference in this world with the skills I’ve developed or was born with? What is my profession? Is being an artist or a creative who rarely puts out work to be purchased an actual profession or just a hobby? Does it matter? Am I a proper contributing member of society, of the world? Can I be proud of the life I’ve created, the life I live? Do I feel judged for not working a traditional job? Do I judge myself for not being an equal bread winner for my family? Can I ever just be proud of the work I’ve put into creating and maintaining our home, our life as imperfect as it may be? Can I give myself permission to work on my creative projects even if they never bring in money?

I discovered something in my latest somatic therapy session: I don’t feel I have the right to work on creative projects until all of my house/family projects or to-dos are completed. And guess what, they never will be. Therefore, I rarely give myself permission to work with my creativity. There are a couple things that slip through, usually in the evening right before bedtime such as knitting, crocheting and drawing on my iPad. But these are creative projects that live in the house. Everything else lives in my studio in the backyard and I rarely give myself permission to work in there anymore.

Part of it was due to our cat getting super sick this last year and needing constant attention and catering to so I stayed inside the house all day so I could tend to her whenever she needed anything. Another part of it, that I uncovered during my latest session, was that I was having a lot of mixed emotions around analogue painting.

I have identified as an Artist for almost ten years now with painting abstract oil on large canvases as my primary medium. And that used to be true. But nowadays, it’s super rare for me to start an oil painting and I have only finished two in the last three years. I have been holding a lot of guilt and shame around this. How can I call myself a painter when I rarely paint?

My therapist asked me why I’m not painting when it brings me bliss? I told her it doesn’t bring me bliss, it actually feels quite painful to do. When I paint large oil on canvas, something comes over me and it feels almost like a battle, a purging and I can’t stop wrestling with it until it’s complete, until nothing else is wrong with the image. Then I feel spent, hollowed out but able to rest. She was shocked by this description and asked why I don’t just stop painting then if it causes so much anguish. I told her that when I paint, it’s because I have to, that there is something inside of me that needs to come out. The same thing happens when I write poetry. It’s the exact process for me, the same emotions, the same catharsis once complete.

She asked me if I tie my identity to my poetry then? No, I write poems only when I need to. Then why do I still tie my identity with my paintings, she asked. BAM! That one questions has shifted everything for me.

It’s so interesting when your perception on something changes, things fall into your path to reinforce or help you along your new path. This video popped up for me on Youtube today and I love how Taika Waititi talks about creativity and being a conduit for creativity. I identify strongly with how he goes about making art. We both have dozens of interests and seek to find various methods of exploring those interests. Why can’t I just see myself as a creative or an artist or plainly, as a conduit for creativity and play?

And going back to my barrage of Crisis of Identity questions earlier when I spoke of wanting to have my work mean something or play a significant role in helping or healing this world. I found this Ted Talk Ethan Hawke did very liberating and to be some interesting food for thought. It’s not our job to decide if what we create is meaningful or any good. We need to just give ourselves the permission to be creative and put it out there.

So, I guess what I’m trying to process through is allowing myself to just be as I am. Allowing whatever form of creativity wants to come through me in that moment and not try to hold onto labels based on those forms of creativity. I’m also trying to give myself permission to allow time for my creativity and to not be precious about the quality, focusing on the process and not the finished product. Allowing for play, failure, learning, growth, passion and laughter within my creativity.

I am valuable. I am worthy. I have the power within me to make a difference just as I am. These are some of my current mantras that spark the fire inside. I’d love to hear some of yours that keep your passions alive and push you forward.

I hope you are having a wonderful day. Thank you for joining me here! 🙂

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