When was the last time you allowed yourself to create, just for yourself? Let your process and creation be unencumbered by external pressure, the pursuit of monetary gain or societal approval? For many, even those who create often, just the idea of this sounds like an unattainable luxury.
The hyper-productive world we live in has conditioned us to confine our creative capacity to what can be monetized, capitalized upon or used to entertain others. Over our lifetime, we’re given explicit and implicit messages that tell us that our art and self-expression are only worthwhile if they are validated by the world. Society, with the aim of creating purely functional cogs in the system, instills apprehension within us of venturing outside the confines of what is deemed ‘useful’. Creativity is typically considered to be one of those ‘useless’ things. As we grow, this hesitation is cultivated and can eventually become a full-blown fear. We may begin to experience a deep-rooted fear of creating. This fear can be so strong that most of us never allow ourselves to create. And if we dare to venture into the world of creativity, a plethora of other fears are unleashed. We dread creating ‘bad’ art and taking up space with creation that others don’t find valuable. Or we become convinced that creativity is the birth right of a select few, pack our imagination away to decay within us, and resign ourselves to a life of limitation.
Most of my life has been defined by my acquiescence to this norm. I didn’t feel creative and so I didn’t create. I wanted to stick to the spheres of life that would be affirmed by others. To me this meant excelling in academics and manufacturing a ‘perfect’ persona that people would accept. I didn’t realise that the absence of creativity in my life meant a fundamental part of my being was stunted. I was timid and complacent and terrified of failure- the definition of which I left entirely up to others. Hindsight has allowed me to realise that I was always a creative person, it was just a side of myself that had been dormant for so long I didn’t know otherwise. If this is the position you find yourself in – trapped in a state of complacency and desiring a new lease on life – let me reassure you: you are not alone and you don’t have to be confined this way any longer. Continue reading to find out why you should find a creative outlet, what it will do for the quality of your life alongside a few ideas.
Why You Need a Creative Outlet:
- Designated Me Time
Having a creative outlet that you commit to regularly cuts out time in your calendar for YOU. This is crucial, especially for people who find it easy to give of themselves but often find themselves running dry because they struggle to set boundaries. Having a time or day dedicated to allowing my own creative expression has not only given me much needed time alone, it’s also taught me the value of investing in myself. Once you’ve decided on the creative outlet you wish to incorporate into your life, or the ones you wish to experiment with, make sure you schedule them into your routine. Honour these commitments that you’ve made for yourself whether you feel like it or not and communicate to others that these times are not to be intruded upon.
- Mindfulness and Meditation
Being creative allows you to momentarily disengage with the outside world and delve into your inner world, from which your ideas emerge. By creating art you participate in a form of meditation that enables you to reset your inner state and refocus your energy. Through your art, you may be able to face and convey thoughts and feelings that words cannot express. Turning to art when faced with anxiety or during tragic events has allowed me to process my emotions healthily. This is particularly useful when the issues that arise in external circumstances – school, work or relationships – are manifestations of internal issues. The result of giving yourself permission to be creative in this way is likely to be clarity of mind and perspective.
Research shows that incorporating things that you enjoy in your life has many benefits for your mental and physical health. Among them are preventing burn out, lowering your blood pressure and countering the stress hormone Cortisol. These advantages come with hobbies of any kind but when it comes to creative outlets, they are amplified by the fact that you will be engaging your imagination – a part of our mind that is typically suppressed after childhood.
Creative Outlet Ideas:
Feel free to experiment with different outlets until you find the ones you enjoy most. Even in this process of discovery you are sure to reap the benefits that come with being creative.
- Painting and Drawing
This category can be extended to include doodling, sketching and colouring-in.
Journaling, blogging and writing poetry and prose fall in this category.
- Crafting and DIYs
- Pottery and Sculpting
- Textile-related creation
- Making music and curating playlists
My go-to’s for creative expression are painting, writing and curating playlists. What will yours be?
When we allow ourselves to create honestly our creations become avenues for the unfiltered expression of ourselves. Incorporating a creative outlet into your life won’t only produce art, it will allow you to come face to face with your true self. The reward of seeing yourself in your creation – in the brush strokes on a canvas, the shape of a clay jar, the flow of words on paper – is far more gratifying than any external validation you could receive. So, chase after that. Let this be your sign to shake off your fear, re-engage with your imagination, experiment with different creative outlets and open yourself up to the world of healing, growth and breakthrough that will follow.