It became apparent a long time ago that I must not be a very easy person to love. I’m not high maintenance, my heart is most decidedly not black, I am not mean, I’m not cranky….none of that kind of thing – I’m just a different kind of kitten. Part of the problem is that I am a very creative person – my mind never stops going, I’m not known for my finely-tuned logic skills, and I’m also quite averse to seriousness (which is a polite way of saying that I am a raging jackass most of the time). I came across this article recently, and I absolutely LOVED it! Entitled “20 Things to Remember if You Love A Highly Creative Person”, it’s a great read. While I’d never be so pretentious to think of myself as being highly creative, I do think there’s some very decent advice for all of us on how to deal gently with each other – and, for those who may be interested, how to deal with me. Happy reading!
1. They have a mind that never slows down.
The creative mind is a non-stop machine fueled by intense curiosity. There is no pause button and no way to power it down. This can be exhausting at times but it is also the source of some crazy fun activities and conversations. This is absolutely, 110% me – my bloody mind never stops (which is probably why I suffer from insomnia), I’m always thinking…I exhaust myself. The rest of the world must find me frustating!
2. They challenge the status quo.
Two questions drive every creative person more than any others: What if? and Why not? They question what everyone else takes at face value. While uncomfortable for those around them, it’s this ability that enables creatives to redefine what’s possible. I don’t do this so much, actually….I tend to go along with things outwardly, rarely pausing to rock the boat – but you should hear the revolutions I’m starting in my head!
3. They embrace their genius even if others don’t.
Creative individuals would rather be authentic than popular. Staying true to who they are, without compromise, is how they define success even if means being misunderstood or marginalized. This is ME!!! I don’t give a whooping funt about being popular or well-liked – I care far more about being me, and being true to me. I think I’m a pretty decent person – if others don’t get me, then that is their loss. Whatevah.
4. They have difficulty staying on task.
Highly creative people are energized by taking big mental leaps and starting new things. Existing projects can turn into boring slogs when the promise of something new and exciting grabs their attention. I am natually inclined to be this way, but years of conditioning has forced me to learn to stay on task, hyper-focus and finish the job at hand. If I didn’t have to worry about keeping my job, I’d probably be loopier than a shithouse rat!!
5. They create in cycles.
Creativity has a rhythm that flows between periods of high, sometimes manic, activity and slow times that can feel like slumps. Each period is necessary and can’t be skipped just like the natural seasons are interdependent and necessary. I can definitely relate to this – sometimes, my creative juices resemble the rushing waters of Niagara Falls, and I can’t get all of the ideas whirling in my head out quickly enough. Othertimes, it’s like the friggin’ Sahara around here…dryer than hell. Ebbs and flows, friends…ebbs and flows.
6. They need time to feed their souls.
No one can drive cross-country on a single take of gas. In the same way, creative people need to frequently renew their source of inspiration and drive. Often, this requires solitude for periods of time. I am a girl who definitely requires ‘me’ time – I need to be left alone to read my favorite websites, slide through my Twitter feed, catch up on my favorite shows on my DVR…all of these things feed my creativity, they inspire me, they get me thinking, and they make me feel good. Does anything life-shattering ever happen after I watch the week’s worth of Jimmy Fallon on Saturday mornings? No. Does it make me feel as if I’m ready to take on the world and I am going to be okay after an exhausting week? Absolutely. Bring it on.
7. They need space to create.
Having the right environment is essential to peak creativity. It may be a studio, a coffee shop, or a quiet corner of the house. Wherever it is, allow them to set the boundaries and respect them. I wish that I had a quiet space to work and think and just be, but I don’t. Instead, I set up shop on my bed most of the time (I got a new Casper mattress in December which is the friggin’ bomb of all time – seriously, it has been SUCH a game changer for me. Love it! ), or I park it in the living room on the love seat, and get down to business. I used to love writing outside on my deck, but the yard is a shithole of a mess and I don’t have time nor arm power to clean it up, so…I’ve taken my show inside. In other news, I’m currently holding auditions for intern yard boys/pool boys ( even though I don’t have a pool) – all interested applicants are encouraged to apply through the Comments section. PS: Shirts will be optional!
8. They focus intensely.
Highly creative people tune the entire world out when they’re focused on work. They cannot multi-task effectively and it can take twenty minutes to re-focus after being interrupted, even if the interruption was only twenty seconds. This is partly me – I am a focusing fool….but I can multitask with the best of them. I think it must be the years of conditioning in the work place -plus the fact that I’m a girl.
9. They feel deeply.
Creativity is about human expression and communicating deeply. It’s impossible to give what you don’t have, and you can only take someone as far as you have gone yourself. A writer once told me that an artist must scream at the page if they want a whisper to be heard. In the same way, a creative person must feel deep if they are to communicate deeply. I can definitely relate to this one…I feel all the feels, all the time. When I get my feelings hurt, it cuts me to the core. When I care for someone, I love them with all of my heart and want to build a shrine in their honor on the regular. I spout love declarations, I sing their praises, I compose them bad love poems – the whole nine yards. When it comes to feelings, I am a believer in the ‘go big or go home’ philosophy. This probably explains why I’ve been hurt/shattered so damn many times. Oh well….nothing ventured, nothing gained.
10. They live on the edge of joy and depression.
Because they feel deeply, highly creative people often can quickly shift from joy to sadness or even depression. Their sensitive heart, while the source of their brilliance, is also the source of their suffering. I don’t suffer from depression – I get sad and bummed, of course, but I generally try to keep that in and hide it from the world. However, thankfully, my moments of melancholy are mostly few and far between. I said to someone recently, as I was pissed off and ranting and raving like a lunatic, that I work so hard all of the time at keeping my feelings between the lines, keeping everything on a real even keel…never allowing myself to swing to extremes. Why? Why do I feel that I have to do that? I suppose it’s the years of my mother telling me to tone it down, to stop every time that I showed any extreme of any sort – she still does it, in fact. I’m 41 years old…perhaps it’s time for her to realize that the ship has sailed???! There are days when I would like to just let’er rip, show all of my feelings and emotions to everyone around me, whether they asked for it or not. I can’t imagine the carnage that I’d leave behind!
11. They think and speak in stories.
Facts will never move the human heart like storytelling can. Highly creative people, especially artists, know this and weave stories into everything they do. It takes longer for them to explain something, explaining isn’t the point. The experience is. I don’t know if I am a good storyteller, or if people think I am boring as shit and wish I’d shut the hell up when I talk….I hope that I am interesting.
12. They battle Resistance every day.
Steven Pressfield, author of The War of Art, writes:
“Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.”
Highly creative people wake up every morning, fully aware of the need to grow and push themselves. But there is always the fear, Resistance as Pressfield calls it, that they don’t have what it takes. No matter how successful the person, that fear never goes away. They simply learn to deal with it, or not. This is so me. Every day, I know where I want to be, the things that I want to do….but I seem to lack the knowledge of how to bridge the distance between the two. I certainly don’t lack the motivation, though…so perhaps some day I will figure it all out.
13. They take their work personally.
Creative work is a raw expression of the person who created it. Often, they aren’t able to separate themselves from it, so every critique is seen either as a validation or condemnation of their self-worth. This is something that I struggle with…I take criticism very personally, which I really ought to get over. With the amount of shit and abuse I take from the world, you’d think I’d be better at it!
14. They have a hard time believing in themselves.
Even the seemingly self-confident creative person often wonders, Am I good enough? They constantly compare their work with others and fail to see their own brilliance, which may be obvious to everyone else. Amen. That’s all I’ve got to say about this one!!!
15. They are deeply intuitive.
Science still fails to explain the How and Why of creativity. Yet, creative individuals know instinctively how to flow in it time and again. They will tell you that it can’t be understood, only experienced firsthand. This is a weird thing that I go through all of the time…I get these wonky feelings about stuff, and I am usually right. I feel it in my gut, and there is little that I can do once that feeling settles in…I don’t understand. However, I am also the dimmest person in town about some things, and you damn near have to hit me over a head to catch on to them. Grr! I am maddening!!!
16. They often use procrastination as a tool.
Creatives are notorious procrastinators because many do their best work under pressure. They will subconsciously, and sometimes purposefully, delay their work until the last minute simply to experience the rush of the challenge. I’m funny about procrastination. I am SUCH a doer, 99.9% of the time – but there are a few things that I happily put off, hoping that perhaps a fairy will appear and take care of it (or the shirtless pool boy). Cleaning out my fridge is one of these things, cleaning the old toys and junk out of the upstairs of my house is another. I don’t know what the hell I’m waiting for with these two tasks, but I am clearly waiting for something!!
17. They are addicted to creative flow.
Recent discoveries in neuroscience reveal that “the flow state” might be the most addictive experience on earth. The mental and emotional payoff is why highly creative people will suffer through the highs and lows of creativity. It’s the staying power. In a real sense, they are addicted to the thrill of creating. I get this. I find painting to be the most thrilling activity around…and I’m NOT a good painter. However, the act of putting colorful blobs on a canvas and making something pretty makes my heart pound with excitement, and each time I do a painting class, I’m like an addict looking for another fix, checking the calendar to see when I can go back. Nutty!
18. They have difficulty finishing projects.
The initial stage of the creative process is fast moving and charged with excitement. Often, they will abandon projects that are too familiar in order to experience the initial flow that comes at the beginning. This is linked to my procrastination – I do finish things that I think are important, but…unpacking the last two boxes from when I moved in 7 years ago? Not important. Oops.
19. They connect dots better than others.
True creativity, Steve Jobs once said, is little more than connecting the dots. It’s seeing patterns before they become obvious to everyone else. This is me, I am this – I see patterns everywhere I look in the world around me. I see patterns in people’s behavior, I see connections between our actions, I see links all the time – whether they exist or not. I am a person who makes meaning from connecting to those around me…which is probably why I’m always trying to establish relationships with others.
20. They will never grow up.
Creatives long to see through the eyes of a child and never lose a sense of wonder. For them, life is about mystery, adventure, and growing young. Everything else is simply existing, and not true living. This is the essence of me…I live most days full of a childlike sense of awe and wonder, and I frequently have to stop what I’m doing to marvel at the world around me. I love to laugh, I love to have fun, and I love sharing those things with other people. I think the Wee One and I get along so well because we are very similar in our sense of glee…and I hope that never changes. Some people that I know have been OLD since they were 10 years old. I am not one of those people. I want to always feel the tingles of a new experience, and I actively combat cynicism and being jaded with all of my might. This doesn’t make me immature (much)…I think it makes me a lover of life.
Are you a creative bunny? Whether you are in love with a creative person or you are one yourself, embrace the qualities that make this kind of person so magical to be around….and try to love them in spite of these things. Maybe, just maybe, you will learn to love them BECAUSE of these things – and that would be the very best of all.