This week I’ve yet again been blown away by more lovely people saying more lovely things about my blog. Some commented that it stuck a chord with them or that they could relate to a feeling I’d described. A few people also commented on how much they enjoyed my writing style. It all surprised me, but especially the latter, because for as long as I can remember I’ve been telling the story in my head that I can’t write, let alone have a writing style that someone might actually enjoy and get something from. True, punctuation and spelling have never really been up there with my bestest skills. I even remember one of my High School English teachers asking me to sit a test to check a few things (probably contributing to the “I can’t write” inner chatter) but as I’ve said in earlier posts, and I’m sure I’ll say again, just because it’s something you’ve been telling yourself for years…and years…and, um, years…doesn’t mean it’s the truth. Fear, my friends, is a liar. Maybe I’ve got something to share that people actually want to read. Punctuation and spelling errors n’all.
I remember the first time I went home to Scotland from Sydney for a visit. One task of the trip was to sort through old boxes stored at my Mum and Dads. Amongst old report cards and drawings I came across a whole heap of old primary school jotters and it’s fair to say I had a pretty vivid imagination back then. There was some fairly creative stories in those books as well as the real-life stuff you would share with your class about what you’d been up to at the weekend. It made for some pretty entertaining reading. I found it hard to part with all of them so I kept a few gems which I’ll no doubt read again in another few years.
For me, the older I got, I guess writing sort of turned into a bit of a chore. It was no longer creative writing. Instead it was essays, assignments or dissertations. And for me, all of those always felt quite difficult. Probably not helped by the fact I was doing them all while telling myself I wasn’t good at any of them. Seriously, why do we do that to ourselves!? It’s so mean. And, when it came to marks or results, well I’d be mean to myself there too. I took constructive feedback from teachers, lectures and friends as criticism. I took it to heart. I chose to focus on the negative points – no matter how minor – yep, I was convinced, it was more proof that I was right; “I’m just not a good writer”. And so, like anything we do that feels difficult, it’s created from a negative energy from the get go and doesn’t come from our heart. Enter fear, enter inner critical and it never really get into its true genuine creative flow.
So, all of this got me to thinking this week how amazing it is that so many of the things we love to do as children get so forgotten about as we grow up. And it’s understandable as the responsibilities and pressures of everyday life come into play. But it’s also often a lost opportunity. I’m not suggesting we all go about on space hoppers – although if that makes you happy, why not? – but I do believe we need to allow ourselves to be a bit more curious and carefree while we explore what it is that we might have forgotten we love(d) doing. A bit more like we were as children. For them, there isn’t really a right or wrong, they just create something in the moment and how great is it to see that without the need to correct it? A blue tree with orange leaves? WOW! Sure, why not? Who says trees need to be brown with green leaves when you’re three?
I talked in blog #1 about my love for art when I was younger and no Birthday or Christmas would be complete without some sort of crafty gift. But, other than a six week art course a few years back with a work colleague and a stab at making greetings card a year or two ago I haven’t been as creative as clearly I needed to be being. Last year when I was studying at Design School, one week of lessons was ‘drawing week’ and it was amazing as a class of thirty or forty-something-year-olds how much we were seeking approval from our teacher. A teacher who was constantly reassuring us that there was no right or wrong, just draw. But, as adults, we get so used to seeking approval from other people. So much of what we do on a daily basis we know is going to be judged by other people or put in front of them for some kind of review. When was the last time you created something just for you, just because you love doing it or creating it? Kids do that every day. They draw and paint whatever they want to draw or paint. I loved that week at school. I‘ve always loved drawing. I was so content spending those 7 hours just simply drawing and not judging the results. And so, you start to see this pattern emerging as to why I needed to get my creative back on. I simply love it. And through that love for design, here I am doing something else I love to do, writing about my adventure. Something which I’d forgotten I even loved doing! Or, could do.
While on this path to find what I love & to do it everyday, so many people who’ve admitted sharing similar frustrations around their career, have reported they really struggle with the knowing of what it is they should be doing instead. They don’t know what their life’s calling is. I hear you people! A year ago I had the same conundrum. At a conscious level, I had no idea that interior design might be something I’d like to do. Of course, the people that know me well, will know I’ve always loved interior shows, always loved painting and have always had a revolving cushion collection but did I know a year ago that this is where I’d be? No. While discussing the career change, my mentor said “…but you’ve never mentioned interior design before…?!” as though perhaps I’d known all his time and just hadn’t been saying. But I can honestly say that wasn’t the case. I didn’t know yet that it was something I was being called to do. It’s funny though when you start to look back on life and see little clues. One of the Marketing Manager jobs I had in Edinburgh at a kinda fancy residential property development had me responsible for working with an Interior Design firm to deliver high end show apartments. I was in my element. I loved what they did. I had serious job envy. But, did I ever once did I think I could be doing what they were doing? Me?! No, it was “Too late”. Yet here I am 7 years on giving it a go.
And you know, this thing I’m doing, this dream I’m chasing, it might not be my forever, it’s just my right now. Trusting the knowing of what I wanted to do led to the start of this blog. One creative avenue opened up another. I’m not sure if everyone has this thought? But I have always felt that maybe I’ve got a novel in me! Every computer I’ve ever owned, has somewhere stored on it a file with a one page word document of a novel I started to write. I usually got to a page or two and gave up. I never planned characters. I never planned a plot. I’d just start writing one rainy Sunday afternoon…and stop half an hour later! Who knows, maybe I do have a novel in me?
While I don’t have the answer for those people who don’t know what it is they want to do, what I would say, and what I can say from experience, is that you won’t find it in your head. Put less focus on what is is you want to do and more on how you want to be. During the last year, I’ve been on a bit of a personal development journey, which has brought me to where I am today. During which time I’ve come across many interesting authors and bloggers and inspirational speakers and if you’re into that stuff and don’t yet know Marie Forleo may I suggest you check out her site and get involved because she is amazing. And to quote her;
“Clarity comes from engagement not thought” – Marie Forleo
Meaning, if there is something you’ve just allowed yourself to remember you love doing or something you want to be doing more of. Just do it. Book the dance class / cookery class / piano lesson / singing lesson / join the football team / start taking photos again / buy a puzzle book / start writing / start a food blog / get on your bike / strap on some rollerblades / <insert own passion here> and just see what happens. And right now, let’s also deal with the people dismissing this I KNOW YOU’RE OUT THERE! the people who are thinking “This doesn’t apply to me, I’m not creative” – of course you are. You’re creating stuff everyday. Aren’t you? You ARE creative. It’s only you telling yourself you’re not good at it or not good enough at it. If it brings you joy, just give it a go. And yes your neighbour might give you a funny look as you whizz past on your rollerblades but maybe they’re looking at you thinking “gosh, I used to love rollerblading as a child…”
So I say let’s reignite some of those creative experiences and let your inner child have some fun. And I don’t just mean for the people who are searching for a new career or hobby or whatever, just do it because it’s fun and it makes you laugh and you remember what having fun is all about. We can take life so seriously. Do something in this next week that you wish you were doing more of. And if you’re even half as happy as Kid President while doing it, well I think that’s a pretty good start.
Something I did this week that I haven’t done since I was a kid? A headstand! Yep I found myself in a mini spur-of-the-moment AcroYoga class and it was fun. I laughed. I learnt. I managed to stand on my head. And I realised that maybe I’d quite like to find an AcroYoga class and get involved.
Until you try it. How will you know?