Week 4 of Escape school and this time it was Creativity week… If you’re anything like me, and the word ‘creativity’ brings up a churning sensation within you, you may have an idea of the challenges it brings. If not, imagine that someone has said “Surprise Test” or “Pop Quiz”, because that’s what I feel is happening. I feel as if I am being tested, and that I won’t measure up.
My recent journey with creativity, and understanding my relationship with it better began at the NOI Club retreat in June last year – it was to be a day of yoga, meditation, and connecting with female entrepreneurs – it sounded perfect for me! Then we were told that the last session of the day would be on play and creativity… Yuck. Oh well, at least the majority of sessions would be worthwhile. Little did I know!
Our facilitator, Rachel, invited us to stand up and rate ourselves in order of how creative we perceived ourselves to be – I immediately went to the lowest ranking I could find, joking “is there a zero out of 10?!” I waited eagerly for my opinion to be asked, and proudly stated something along the lines of “I’m not creative – I get shit done!” I cringe now remembering it – how smug, self-righteous and dismissive I was of all things creative! As if the word was a derogatory label that I wanted to distance myself from as much as possible!
I did learn a lot that day about how I define creativity, and realised that my pastimes of writing, knitting, baking, and even running ToGetHer Further was in fact forms of creativity! Then, a few days later, looking for a podcast on Brene Brown, I stumbled across this little gem:
For anyone else who struggles with creativity in any way, give the podcast a listen – I went from smug to shocked in a few minutes! I now realise that there is far more to creativity than I thought, and that there is a lot of fear and shame associated with the vulnerability of putting ourselves out there in a way that is different from the norm – be it how we dress, how we speak, how we act, and how we choose to define ourselves and our values.
Bearing this in mind, when we were invited at Escape to rank our creativity, I tentatively stood at the 7 or 8 out of 10 stage. Even standing there felt daunting – as if someone was going to ask me to prove it?! Or judge me as being less than for daring to claim I value creativity over productivity?! This was how I had separated them in my head! As if being creative did not produce something, when it is the most productive way of being – literally producing something?!
The evening was difficult – being asked to step outside our comfort zones as usual, experimenting with role play/physical games, modelling with clay, and finally drawing with colouring pencils. Gradually I felt the energy in the room change from that of tentative apprehension to one of quiet enjoyment – I felt a wave of contentment wash over me as I allowed myself to relax into the soothing motion of colouring my sketch of how I want my life to look. I enjoyed it so much that I have even indulged at home – taking out a sketch pad and colouring pencils and allowing myself to play. Producing something I value, even if it’s not how I would previously have defined using my time productively.
I invite you to make some time play with your creativity – both your definition of it, and your method of allowing yourself to engage in it. Let me know how you get on.
Siobhan Kangataran is the Founder of ToGetHer Further, and so far the primary writer/content producer! If you would like to share a guest post, to be interviewed, or to write for ToGetHer Further, please get in touch via the Contact page.