Am I Creative? Reflecting on my own creativity, I have always thought myself a creative person. Starting at a young age I learned to play the flute and was very successful throughout my high school career culminating in a solo performance with a local symphony and many music scholarships for college. I wanted to take art classes in high school but my academic schedule was filled with required classes and music. Unfortunately, and my one true regret in life, I did not pursue a college education in music (flute) performance, with the ultimate goal of becoming an orchestral flutist. Instead, I wandered off to college majoring in biology feeling a great loss of passion for the one thing that made me happy.
Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi, author of Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention,would not denote my deep interest and talent in playing flute as creative, but rather as simply having talent…as “talent differs from creativity in that it focuses on an innate ability to do something very well”. Okay, I can live with that definition though I much prefer, ironically, the statement by Gary Davis, author of Creativity is Forever, referring to Csikszentmihalyi’s book Flow. According to Davis, ““Flow” is involving oneself with an activity to such an extent that nothing else seems to matter – the experience itself is intensely enjoyable”. And that is how I felt playing and performing the flute – complete and utter flow, that until reading Davis, did not know or understand what it meant – the feeling of complete and absolute freedom from thinking, from worrying – having the ability to be in the moment and enjoy the creative output.
Just over three years ago I picked up a paint brush for the first time. I thought about painting for many years and dabbled in watercolor, making jewelry, and paper crafts, but always had an internal urge to paint. So I simply registered for a community education class in acrylic painting and was fortunate to have a very knowledgable and educated instructor. I ended up taking the class six times before she booted me out (nicely) stating there was nothing else I could learn from her. Fast forward three years from that first night and now I am a member of an artist’s coöperative with my own studio, have an extensive portfolio of paintings, have exhibited over 8 times, have my own art website and blog and have completed commissioned pieces of art. Am I going to quit my job to paint? No. Do I think I’m creative? Yes. Am I a successful creative person? That depends. According to Csikszentmihalyi, “about five hundred thousand people in this country state on their census forms that they are artists…how many of these will end up in museums or in textbooks on art?”. I haven’t…yet.
I may not be truly creative according to Csikszentmihalyi but I much prefer Davis’ statement relating to self-actualization when he states that “you need not possess exceptional artistic, literary, scientific, or entrepreneurial talent to consider yourself a creative person and live a creative life”. After completing the self-actualization test in Davis’ book I was happy, and not surprised, to find that I scored in the “high self-actualization” category. I do consider myself creative but it is a work in progress. I am creative in certain areas of my life and need to become more creative in others. Only time will tell if I truly do live a creative life.
Written by Ms. Renee Vevea, a creative in progress.