I have always known that I loved being creative.
From early childhood I remember working on little DIY projects from my bedroom, turning the boring into the beautiful.
I remember staying up late at night to finish art projects in high school—something I would never have had the drive to do with other subjects. I remember that buzz. That adrenaline-filled, bubbling feeling you get in your chest when you allow yourself to be deeply immersed in an activity and succeed in creating a result.
As I grew up, however, something changed in the way I saw creativity. It didn’t seem to have any real point. There was no meaningful outcome in comparison to real-world problems. Or my real-world problems.
Bouts of anxiety and depression reared their ugly heads from time to time throughout my life, and managing myself and my emotions became more difficult.
However, I still saw no real value in being creative for fun. What was the point? It was just a mere distraction or a momentary break from the reality of life. In other words, a complete waste of time.
I needed to sort the important stuff out first. Then, I’d have time for creativity.
My mind had turned creativity into a reward, and because I didn’t give myself much value at the time, it was almost impossible to reward myself.
Years went by, and even though back then I gave creativity little value in my life, it didn’t keep me from “treating” myself to little bursts where I temporarily rediscovered that buzz.
I bought oil paints and played around with brushstrokes. I bought watercolours. I needed those. I got glass paint and made tacky-looking wine glasses. I even hand-sewed Christmas jumpers one year.
I stocked up on beads and started making bracelets. I got decoupage glue and made handmade gifts. I bought a wood burner and etched wooden spoons. I smashed plates and made mosaics. I got into succulents and made succulent gardens. I bought a glue gun and went on a rampage. I bought a sewing machine and never learnt to sew. I went chalk paint crazy on a dining room table. And a bed. The list goes on and on.
I did all these things but I don’t do all these things. While each one of these bursts was intense, passionate, and full of buzz, they were also frenzied and short-lived. I didn’t value myself enough to continue to allow myself to enjoy them. I was just using them as a drug. A quick fix.
Just like a drug, these were bursts of creative mania that rushed through my body giving me the “fix” I needed during whatever emotional roller coaster I was travelling at the time.
Just like a drug, once I got my fix, I began the comedown. Embarrassed that I had yet again allowed myself to “let go.” Ashamed that I had yet again, taken on another project that temporarily turned my home into chaos and my mind into a fantasy world. Angry at myself for wasting my time.
But then something changed. Since going down the path of exploring and learning how to create my own jewelry, I have changed how I view those manic bursts I had in the past. Those bursts were there trying to help me to momentarily escape and give me the fuel I needed to find balance in my life.
It was my attitude toward them that was wrong. They were not a waste of time, but rather a tool trying to help me take time out from the problems I felt I had (whether these problems were real or not).
I now see creativity as a valuable tool in my tool belt for life. A tool that is essential to help me on my journey. A tool that I need to look after and service.
I now ensure that I have times set aside to completely immerse myself in creativity and keep my special tool in good working order. I try to take the gap when I can—even if it’s a mere 10 minutes of writing, reading, or experimenting with creating jewelry, I get that burst back, which leaves me wanting more.
During these little stolen moments, I immerse myself into a different world, where nothing else matters other than the gorgeous fabrics I am working with, the exciting designs my mind is putting together, or the beauty of the words I am reading or writing.
There’s something magical about being able to allow myself to be completely absorbed in something where even if its only for a few minutes, I lose track of my sense of self and time.
I find my flow. And the more flow I find, the more I want.
More importantly, the less overwhelming my feelings feel.