The Reason You Can’t Be An Artist

artist, fear, suppressed, career, practice

artist, fear, suppressed, career, practiceEveryone is born an artist.

A measure of creativity is given to everyone.  The human brain is creative by nature.  It responds to stimuli in fraction of a second.  You can take up the second part of a conversation, unscripted.  You can plan your day in the order you choose.  You can make up silly rhymes.  You dream some really weird stuff.  There is creativity in you.

Those who claim to have no creativity are mistaken.  They have simply not allowed their inner artist out to play.  Their creativity has been suppressed.  Locked away.  Hidden in the shadows.

Maybe you were told that the arts are extracurricular.  Maybe you believed in the “starving artist” stereotype.  Maybe someone guided your creativity in a safer and more lucrative direction.

Well-meaning parents, teachers and friends will help you suppress your inner artist.  If you’re good at writing, you should become an editor instead of a writer.  If you love color and design, you should design business cards instead of selling your own masterpieces.  If you love fashion, you should become a shop owner, instead of a designer.  If you love music, you can be a teacher, instead of a performer.

Instead.  Instead of being an artist, you become a shadow of the real artists.  You follow the people who were brave enough to do it.  Maybe they had the right influences early on.  People who said, “Yes, you can do it. And you should.” Maybe they just had the audacity to run and play in their art instead of trying to tame it.

You will edit the works of real authors, design business cards for the real entrepreneurs, sell the clothing of the real designers and teach the music of the real composers.  For years.  You’ll make a someone else’s creativity your career.

And your inner artist will knock on your heart now and then.  It shows up in feelings of being under appreciated, unfulfilled, job dissatisfaction, jealousy, frustration, and longing.

It’s not uncommon for men and women in their 40’s and 50’s to still not know what they want to do with their lives.  They don’t realize that keeping their inner artist locked up is the cause for the confusion.

Your creativity will get louder as you get older.  Time is running out.  It knocks louder and squirms inside.  Like a baby ready to be birthed.  Sometimes it manifests itself as mid-life crisis.  When a person suddenly leaves a marriage, throws their retirement at a failed start-up, or moves to another country.  They believe a change will somehow satisfy the real starving artist inside.

But you can’t be an artist.

Because if you’re an artist, you can’t be a good wife.  If you’re an artist, you can’t be a good parent.  If you’re an artist you can’t be a good provider.  If you’re an artist, you can’t be a leader, a friend, a Christian, an executive, a teacher, a volunteer.

Fear tells you the only way you can be creative and live as an artist is to make a trade off.  Fear tells you something really dear to you will suffer.  Are you willing to sacrifice it?  Inevitably the answer is no.  So you tell your creativity to stay in the shadows.  You can’t be an artist.

Actually, you can.

The trade off isn’t real.  Somehow we think that giving into our creativity is selfish or strange.  But when you realize that everyone is an artist, suppressed maybe, but an artist nonetheless, you can start to feel at ease in creativity.

The great thing about your creativity is that it doesn’t need a lot of time or exercise.  Just a bit on a regular basis.  It will grow, develop and become a healthy, happy part of your life if you give it a chance.

You manage to take care of yourself and your responsibilities just fine.  You are constantly saying yes to extra things in your schedule.  Adding some time to feed your artist will not destroy the other things you love.  In fact, you will be happier and more satisfied.  That will overflow into your other relationships.  You can be an artist and a good person.

Say yes to your artist.  Go buy some crayons.

What’s something that you’ve always loved to do?  What hints has your inner artist given you?  What trade off has fear threatened you with?  Share your thoughts here.

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  1. “Go buy some crayons.” I love it. I totally just colored a brown bear for my daughter the other day, doing the shading and everything. It was just play time, but I looked at that bear and told myself to quit being so critical of my own abilities. That bear got my daughter thinking about learning to draw someday, and that’s sufficiently tremendous.

  2. Laura, I bought a grown-up coloring book last week on my vacation and a set of 24 colored Sharpies. It was so therapeutic to pick the colors and patterns. I also had to tell myself to not judge how it turned out, but just to enjoy the process. I think we educate ourselves out of our creativity as we grow up, when in reality we should be nurturing it and depending on it more. It’s also way easier to tell our kids to be creative and use their talents than it is to believe the same things for ourselves. I’m working on that.

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