Growing up creative meant having most adults in my life tell me that I would never “make it.” Sure, I was a solid musician, could sing, and possessed a writing talent but I was foolish for thinking it could be anything more than a hobby. I always assumed what they meant was that I would never be an Alicia Keys, Tchaikovsky, Picasso, or the great Charles Dickens… so why waste time?
But creating was what I loved to do. How could I change something about myself that was so integral and an intricate part of who I was as a person? There was no separating myself from my creativity. Not for an hour, not for a moment.
I remember going to college straight out of high school. I went for business, because it was the sensible thing to do. I also went to community college because THAT was the sensible thing to do. Sure, I took honors courses and was a dual enrolled student in high school, but I was told over and over that I wasn’t that great of a student either.
Always okay, maybe above average, but never great.
And I cried. Every day on my way to class, I cried.
I remember thinking to myself, “If this is what it means to be an adult, I don’t want it. I don’t wish this on anybody.”
During my third semester of college, I stopped showing up. I let my scholarship go with my lack of attendance. I began working, volunteering, and doing anything but think about how my life was anything but what I wished it to be. For mediocre people like me, it was the best I could hope for.
To just exist.
And that’s when I was over my head in depression. It was always such a funny feeling… swimming in darkness but being a child of the light. I craved the sun and open air but wasn’t worthy of any of it.
And the light hurt my eyes too much. And then I saw too much.
I saw way, way too much.
But I was so lucky to have met the love of my life at 16.
I married him.
Then came one child.
And I threw myself behind my family in support. I always find that if you’re miserable, serving other human beings in love is some of the best therapy. Because while you’re serving them, you give yourself time to wake up. While you’re healing the rest of the world, you find yourself becoming healed.
Eventually I did begin to wake out of that slumbering darkness and begin to ask questions that I wish someone would have told me to ask a long time ago.
I began researching work that involved the creative pursuits I was interested in but didn’t require “making it” as some sort of artist.
Things popped up that I had never seen before.
On and on the list went. On and on I read about all of the things I could have been interested in pursuing…
…the paths that didn’t require me to sell what gave my soul life…
…the paths no one ever told me about.
I found myself whispering to that forgotten part of me, “I could do this.”
Then, “I can do this.”
And, “I’m doing this.”
Now, “I did it.”
I get paid to write. I get paid to create. I get paid to design.
More than I ever did doing all the “right” things the world told me to suck it up for and accept as my fate.
Now my creativity is my trade, not my curse. I greeted it again realizing I never had to say goodbye in the first place.
And sure, I’m writing a novel. I’ve written a couple books. I’ve done all the typical things people warn you about.
None of those works “made it” by the standards of success, I guess.
But they’re mine… and I’m not a starving artist.
I’m a paid artist, I’m a paid creative… who owns her home, eats avocado toast, works in coffee shops, and creates with light and color every day.
So if you see a little passionate, creative child as you go throughout your days and they tell you of their big dreams…
…don’t just think Beyoncé, don’t just think Mozart, or Ursula Le Guinn, or da Vinci.
Think about your local music therapist.
Think about your friend who is a graphic designer.
Think about the event planner of your wedding.
And guide that child.
Help them step into the color they will bring into the world. Help them see their worth. Tell them of the million different paths they can take.
Help them find the roads less travelled, and encourage them to walk them well.