You Don’t Need Permission to be Creative

This post has been a long time coming.

Here’s the root problem, and the reason it took me so long to even realize I wanted to write this piece. It came to pass that I’ve accidentally grown up recognized as a creative person from the very early days. Thus, I always thought it normal, and so did others around me, for me to make stuff, all the time, all sorts of stuff. I always felt free playing around in all sorts of creative endeavours, and I never even thought of stopping for whatever stupid reason, especially not the, uh, idea of ‘growing up’. (Eeew.)

It was only later, a lot later, that I realized not everyone had that sort of support in their immediate community. Later, when people actually started telling me, ‘but you’re so creative’, or ‘I wish I were as creative as some people’, did I even start understanding not everyone felt this way.

So here’s the deal, one I will defend with my dying breath, if needed. What others think of your self-expression is bullshit. In more ways than this, but especially this. There is no ‘creativity committee’, one which can vote yes or no on your own life.

After you leave school, any kind of school, there are no more teachers who can judge you ‘not creative enough’, and shut you out from what you feel like your personal outlet might be. After all, most teachers (and I love teachers and come from a family of teachers!) base their opinions on one or all of the following—centuries old educational system with no basis in current reality; their own personal taste (nope, no one will admit to this); their own range of capabilities, both creative and cultural; and what some long ago dead (khmcishetwhitekhm) art critics said. And no one will admit to this, either, hiding behind some sort of ‘it is known’.

And the solution is this—and it’s not always easy and it’s not always pretty—stop letting other people mess with something as personal and as individual and as intrinsically inevitable as your own creative expression. That’s it. That’s all there is.

So, now that I’ve laid out the worst of my frustration around common, uninformed and casual repression of creativity [because of our (shared) culture’s elitist and obsolete views], lemme emphasize that I believe everyone has a genuine right and freedom to call themselves creative in all forms of life. There’s no limits as to who gets to use the label! You don’t have to do ‘x’ to be able to join the imaginary ranks of creative people. (X can, but doesn’t have to be, limited to writing, music, painting, sewing, crafting and the like.) And, even if you do express yourself through the most commonly recognized ‘creative’ fields, you most definitely do not have to be good at any of it to call yourself a creative person.

And most of all, for fuck’s sake, you don’t need anyone’s fucking permission to pursue creativity on your own terms. There’s nobody to say yes or no. Or, if you want to put it that way, let me be the one to give you absolute blanket permission to do whatever the hell you wish with your free time. Don’t google ‘how to write a diary’, start one. Don’t try to find out how other people write stories before you write at least a few of your own, on your own. Do use other people’s ideas as inspiration—there’s not a single person who doesn’t do it, knowingly or not—but don’t limit yourself to what you see around you. Learn felting, even if you don’t see the point in it, if it calls to you. Find new stuff to learn. New stuff to try. Play.

Do. Creative. Shit. Do it all the time. Your mental health will thank you more than I could ever express.

Another important caveat, one I’ve seen around more often than not early in 2020—our creativity doesn’t have to be productive. It doesn’t have to be pretty. It doesn’t have to be ‘valuable’—apart from the fact that the time we invest in our own creative pursuits is valuable on its own. It doesn’t have to be public, although participating in a likeminded community helps if that’s your jam.

So. The next time someone tells you ‘that’s not for you, because you can’t X’, or ‘but you’re not that creative’, or ‘but you have to be able to Y to do X’, please, please do tell them to shush and let you play, okay? Okay.

Peace. (Have fun!)

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Photo by Austin Chan on Unsplash.