I recently read an article about creativity written by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love. Usually I find that articles about creativity are entirely skimmable and slightly cliche, but this one has substance and tells the straight-up truth:
I’ve always had a bit of an internal struggle with myself as an artistically creative person. I have loads of inspiration and ideas in my mind but I like making things in safe places for only myself to see. To bare that part of myself to others, to invite them in to experience what I write or create, can be very difficult because vulnerability is scary.
I like to claim that I don’t really care what others think about what I write or make. I mean this in the sense that I don’t need external validation to keep writing or to feel satisfied about my work. What is harder, though, is tossing my work out into the great unknown of the world.
I see it as a concentrated mixture. If that mixture is spread out too thinly across too many people, I feel like it could lose value. I feel safer when my work is pulled close to me. I like to keep it, and, consequently, my heart and my feelings, protected.
When I read Gilbert’s article, though, I think about how boring fear is and I wonder about the value I place on my work. If I love my writing, if I feel it has worth, then why not invite others to share it?
I think we do this all the time. We are afraid to be honest or vulnerable because we don’t want someone to step on an idea we thought was good or to dismiss something we made because we thought it was important. But when we grip all of these ideas and inspiration and art with white knuckles and refuse to let it diffuse beyond ourselves, we are also depriving others of that experience. Some people might hate what you think or make, but a lot of people will probably relate to it. Many will enjoy it. A few might even change their lives because of it.
You can’t always predict these things.
When you allow yourself to be authentic, you grant others around you not only the privilege of landing in a safe space, but also permission to be real themselves. I encourage you to ask people questions and to state your opinions respectfully and to tell your story even if it scares you.
Then, I challenge you to make something that you think is good and share it.