My hands shook as I walked downstairs, twenty-two years old and still so anxious for my mom’s approval. And I knew what I had to say wasn’t going to be met with open arms. It was bad enough I had just graduated with a fairly useless English degree in the deepest economic downturn since the Great Depression. Now I was going to tell her I wasn’t going to take the continuing ed classes that would set me up for a stable paramedic career. And why? Because I couldn’t hide the truth anymore. Deep down, I didn’t want to be a medic or a physician’s assistant or a nurse. I wanted to be, gulp…a writer.
I have always been the “creative” child in my family. The dreamer, the reader, the maker of handmade gifts and imaginary friends. My mother put me in art classes the way she put my brother in sports, and probably for the same reason: a hyperactive imagination needs to be exhausted just as much as physical hyperactivity.
So you would think that this artistic encouragement would set me up for a lifetime of creative fulfillment. But sooner or later, the “real world” always catches up. Along with those pottery classes and painting sets, my mother also gave me the paranoia-inducing lesson that I could be whatever I wanted to be…as long as I could support myself financially. Hence the struggle to find a major, and then a career that could pay the bills but that I also didn’t completely hate. It’s been a long road to semi-success.
These days, I’m a digital marketing professional whose creativity is put through its paces by the day to day nuances of branding, content, and social media strategy. I give design direction, write blog posts and craft elaborate customer profiles that put to marketable use the imaginary stories I have always made up in my head. I am in many ways, a creative professional. And yet, I am just as far from being the writer I wanted to be and it’s no longer my mom (or her lessons) holding me back.
Instead, the obstacle is something I think a lot of people face. We want to be more creative, to exercise the imagination and colorful energy that lurks deep within us. But lack of time, energy, training, or “talent” keeps getting in the way. We can’t just pick up and move to Bali for a month to Eat, Pray, Love ourselves to creative awakening, right? But that’s the beauty of creativity. It’s…well, creative. It finds a way if you let it. Like water, it will flow into any tiny space you leave open for it.
As impossible as it sometimes feels, we can fulfill our creative drives right where we are. In the middle of family, jobs, bills…life. The question of course is, how? You could spend a lifetime trying to figure it out. Or you can follow along with me as I journey towards creative fulfillment, right in the midst of life itself.