There is something that happens to us as we age. I am not sure when or how the transition is marked but there comes a point in our lives where many of us stop creating.
As children, there is no filter on our imagination. We get curious about everything and allow ourselves the space to be vulnerable. We put pen (or paint or pencil or marker) to paper, sharing the innermost workings of our mind with those around us. The possibilities are endless as we journey beyond the limits of every box we have ever known and do one of the most miraculous things anyone can ever do – create.
Guided by passion and an unyielding energy to explore our minds, we freely walk into such a unique space of vulnerability. Our minds are uninhibited and we are celebrated by all those around us for the conquest in our creations.
But over time, that inhibition begins to dissipate. Vulnerability is no longer celebrated but feared and we begin to sift people into boxes that define who they are, what they do, and the things they do that are worthy of celebration. We move from being unified as creators and innovators to professionals with predetermined benchmarks for success, herded like cattle through the channel to adulthood.
Imagination is no longer seen as a skillset but something to “use with caution” for fear of moving too far from what has been deemed acceptable and normative in a world driven by complacency and obligation. Our time becomes filled with the never-ending list of responsibilities to which we become enslaved and we reserve the ability to create for “true artists”. But what is it that marks a “true artist”? How are they defined and what is it that separates them from everyone else giving them the freedom to keep creating?
I used to think there was some special quality all artists had that made them different. But the truth is…there is nothing. Nothing separates one person from another and makes them more deserving or capable than another to create. I became a painter the day I picked up my brush. There was no special ceremony…no sorting process…no test. I simply decided to paint, and in that, a painter was born. I am no better or worse than any other person who puts brush to canvas and tells a story through their art. There is no scale on which I am measured. I am purely telling my own story, paving my own path and courageously sharing it with others in the hopes it can inspire.
I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t some part of me that judges my work and at times, compares my work to the work of others, hearing that treacherous voice of adulthood whisper in my ear that I am not good enough and have no right to spend my time doing frivolous things like painting. But over time, I have learned how to reclaim my life, redefining it with a priority to challenge myself every day to see the world from a new dimension and uncover the inner workings of my unique ever-exploring mind. It doesn’t happen over night. Like any practice, you have to build up your capacity to freely be in the moment, simply allowing yourself to do whatever it is you are doing without judgment or the pressure to fit into some box of what is worthy or beautiful or “good enough” to be celebrated. Creating anything is miraculous and holds equal importance in this world.
So go ahead. Rebel against the shackles of adulthood. Take back and nurture your imagination. Pick up the pen (or paint or pencil or marker) and put something down on paper – even just a dot or line. Then stop, look at it and celebrate. You have just bravely ventured into a world without limits. You are reclaiming your right to create and have the opportunity to reacquaint yourself with a long-lost part of your identity. And as best as you can, shove your criticisms to the side and marvel at your courage and creation. You are officially an artist and now the only responsibility you have is to never look back!