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What stops most people from being more creative isn’t time, skill or confidence, it’s the idea we need permission.
Many people feel hindered by this belief. It’s not real, spoken permission from a boss, teacher, colleague, friend. It’s an implied, instinctive feeling that creativity isn’t a normal thing to do. Where does this come from?
Losing the desire
My feeling is that during school years, we go from starting out creating all the time in the beginning, to a point where everything is academic and results-focussed during senior years. Creative subjects are seen as a soft option, unproductive but nice to do. A bit of a lark.
As adults, this stays with us, as the reality of paying your way through life sets in. People get jobs, often taking up much of their time. When you’re young, socialising takes up a lot of the time left outside of work. Then, possibly parenting and other responibilities come into your life.
Eventually, most people lose confidence and ignore their desire to be more creative. This often stems from anxiety and fear. We worry that our ideas won’t be good enough (good enough for who?), or that we’ll be judged or criticised for being indulgent, or putting ourselves ‘out there’.
The truth is that creating is an important part of mental health. A way of expressing ourselves and our feelings without needing the world’s permission to do so. It’s a way of taking control of our lives and our experiences, sometimes if we feel silenced by a world that doesn’t want to hear about them. Expressing through something that is uniquely our own is a kind of therapy (without the stigma).
Expressing through something that is uniquely our own is a kind of therapy
Available to anyone
Most adults don’t know it, but creativity really is available to anyone who has the desire to create. It doesn’t matter what skills you have, what your job is, how old you are, or anything else. You have the power and freedom to create something new and unique, and you don’t need anyone else’s permission to do it.
As a designer, most other adults talk to me in the same language – often saying they could never draw, or they’re just not creative. These are limiting beliefs they tell themselves because they feel they need to be good at it to do it.
Also, let’s clarify what we mean by creativity. I’m not talking purely about drawing, painting, or wild ideas. I’m talking about creativity in the literal sense. You could make up a story in your head while waiting for the train. Or draw a doodle while in a boring meeting. The possibilitities are endless.
Just because I’m a professional designer doesn’t mean I’m constantly creating either. I have to set aside time to do it in a busy schedule, just like everyone else. But I have explored my creative side many, many times over. Writing this blog is one way I currently express myself and process my thoughts and ideas.
I’ve also felt like a born ‘maker’ throughout my life, and I’ve explored this in many ways. I build physical things around my home. I’ve dabbled with photography on and off over the years. I’ve learned to make and sell products online. I’ve built many online experiments with no-code. All of these have required me to push beyond the scope of the day job, to express freely without permission.
Let the magic begin
So if you're feeling stuck or held back by limiting beliefs, or feeling the world doesn’t want to know your troubles – remember that you have the power to break free or process those feelings. Just allow yourself to create anything, for no-one in particular, and see where your imagination takes you.
When we take a risk and challenge limiting beliefs, we let the magic begin
In a recent email Josh Specter shared the below video, saying “It has nothing to do with drawing and everything to do with creating”. It’s a heartwarming reminder that when we take a risk and challenge limiting beliefs, we let the magic begin.