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I am not an exceptional writer.
In grade school, I never received any accolades for writing. I was mediocre at best. Sometimes I was a “good student” in that I remembered my homework almost all of the time and was too afraid of authority to break any rules.
But I wasn’t gifted in the classroom. My essays were alright. My grammar was (and still is) pretty bad. Even in art class, I was adequate. Not terrible, but nothing to write home about.
All of this accumulated together to form the belief that I was not “creative.” The “creative” ones were the ones with natural talent. The ones who received awards for their written words and brush strokes. They could glide through high school hallways in their artsy clothes and their hermit ways because they had the talent. I, on the other hand, scuffled along right in the middle of it all, uncreative and untalented.
This perception of myself got turned on its head recently.
I was listening to a podcast by Christie Arylo and guest Shilo Sohpia. I was driving in the car, podcast blaring over the radio. You know the experience when you hear something and are suddenly transported out of your current experience? Shilo said the words, “Our society confuses talent with creativity, and they are separate. All human beings are creative. We all yearn for self-expression.” It felt like her words punched me in the gut, in the best possible way. My mind was no longer seeing the road in front of me, but was transported back to different snapshots across my lifespan where I saw her words to be true.
My mind reeled. “Wait,” I thought to myself, “so creativity and talent are not the same thing?!” I turned up the dial on the volume. She went on to explain that creative endeavors in children often get shut down when promise is not evident. Crayons and markers are put away so the child can pursue something that will eventually earn them money in the world. And creative expression is, just like that, brushed under the rug.
I suddenly understood this hunger in myself to write words and create. It wasn’t a desire because I was gifted and talented. That desire was there simply because I was a human being deeply craving to be fully alive. Just like I would eat food when I was hungry, sleep when I was tired, and have sex when I was feeling sexual. They are all one in the same, really.
So I write these words now, not because I am talented, but because I am human. I am a human being who feels the force of creative inspiration move through my body and I choose to dance with the song—because it feels so damn good. I write because the voice that moves through me, just under my skin, has things to say. May we all have the courage to honour our creative expression in this life, for the simple and beautiful fact that it is uniquely ours.