A few months ago, my sister and I sat down to pitch ideas for a talk that we were supposed to do together. While we brainstormed and conversed over random ideas, I remembered something what my friends and I talked about: how society suppressed creative freedom to make room for conformity.
I immediately made the connection from my childhood experiences to that idea. While our talk didn’t push through, the feeling to write an essay about it nagged at me. In this post, I’ll be talking about my personal journey in rediscovering my creative self and how conformity trumps creativity.
ACKNOWLEDGING THE PAST VERSIONS OF OURSELVES: CREATING IN OUR YOUTH
When I was younger, I remember being excited whenever my mom comes home from one of her flights. She would always surprise us by bringing home these so-called “creative kits” she got from the aircraft.
The child version of myself would always be seemingly thrilled over this simple prospect, as any kid would be over toys. The creative kit comes with an exciting set of coloring books, crayons, possibly a sticker or two, and some other paraphernalia like passport holders and such. I remember always being given the Winnie The Pooh themed kit, which gave me the affinity for the character as I grew up. I admit, up to this day, I’m still a fan of Pooh.
I vividly remember the joy and thrill of tapping to a source of energy that fuels my soul for creating something with my hands, and just about any artistic work. Somehow, along the way life happened and suddenly growing up meant neglecting this creative well.
As we grow older, conformity takes over individuality and creativity. I’ve seen it happen. In fact, I experienced the very same thing. The need to stand out, be unique and pursue our interests, even if it goes against the norms of society, becomes buried under the pretense of what society tells us to become.
CONFORMITY TRUMPS CREATIVITY
Conformity starts taking shape when we enter the premises of school. We are asked to abide by the rules and do exactly what we are instructed to do, thereby limiting our creative freedom. As we enter adulthood, we become completely brainwashed into thinking that we can’t do certain things or that we shouldn’t do certain things – most especially in the creative field – because it was ingrained in us that we shouldn’t or that we couldn’t.
But something incredible and magical happened when I was in my senior year. For some reason, the need to create something was reignited within me. It started as a slow itch, that turned to an insatiable desire that won’t go away until I did something with it.
I inherently believe that we will never lose that thread that links us to our creative self. The source is always there waiting to be tapped into.
So I picked up a notebook and a pen and started Googling “How To Draw An Animal”. There were tons of articles listed, step by step tutorials and I would follow them only to come up with an animal that resembled anything but.
That didn’t stop me though. My frustration became my fuel and my determination overcame any lingering doubts and fears and deep-seated beliefs that I simply can’t draw anything comprehensible other than a stick man and a simple house – more commonly known to us as bahay kubo.
So with an open mind, I became fascinated with the idea of drawing and later on painting, never knowing where it would lead me years down the line. It wasn’t until a few months ago that when I was brainstorming with my sister for this very topic that I realized I was never really untalented nor unskilled. My creativity and innate skills were simply buried deep within me from the years of societal conformity that suppressed our human passion for creating and innovating.
Conformity limits creativity. By following everyone else and by having that need to fit in and be like everyone else, how would one create something unique and true to oneself? To think differently and to do things differently is how we encourage creativity and let it flourish.
WE ARE INHERENTLY CREATIVES
We’re all inherently talented and skilled creatives.
It is only when we have the courage to listen to our gut that we hear the inner youngling in us that wants to be acknowledged. This is where we rediscover our true creative self and the talents and skills buried beneath it all.
This post is both inspired by random ideas and conversations with my friends and my sister, as well as the murals by Herakut.
Philippines, 2013 | Canon AE-1, Kodacolor 200