Today I finally captured a photo that I am truly proud of.
These images of my girls are not particularly profound, nor do they evoke the kind of emotion that I feel most inspired by when looking at the work of others I admire – but they are the first shots I which I felt technically in control of my camera. While I still have so much more to learn and I am still so far away from producing the kind of creative work that I aspire to produce; while I am nowhere close from becoming the kind of creative that I intend to be… I will not stop until I get there. I will not give up until I “become real.”
Three years ago I attended a creative strategy session at a big NYC advertising agency. I remember leaving that meeting and feeling this crazy rush of emotions because I never knew this magical place where people get paid to sit inside of rooms and conjure up ideas and create for a living existed. I finally knew what I wanted to do when I grew up – or more accurately I remembered what I wanted to do…I remembered who I was.
Adulthood has this crazy way of completely erasing all the wisdom and clarity we possess as children about who we are. So many of us end up selling pharmaceuticals, making cold calls and sitting on conference calls all day because of the responsibility that comes along with adulting.
I am still today who I was as a child.
I was a dorky creative kid who was chosen to attend the young author’s conference after writing a book about cats in third grade. I dressed up for career day with a notepad in my pocket and a pen behind my ear. Every one of my birthday parties were full theatrical performances with costume changes and video production teams (my childhood friends can vouch for this). In my spare time, I wrote poems, played around in dark rooms, took nude self-portraits, and made homemade movies on my gigantic VHS video camera.
When I was in elementary school I qualified for a gifted education program called PROBE where they offered classes in painting, theatre, writing and dance one day a week. Every Thursday I woke up three hours before school started because I was so excited to learn. They say that the things that excite you are not random but connected to your purpose. I recount these things not to brag, or to validate my identity; but because I felt special, seen and known as a result of those experiences and those people investing in my gifts as a child. Everyone desires that sense of belonging in life – it is how authenticity blooms.
Albert Einstein once said, “I have no special talents. I am just passionately curious,” and that used to be enough for me. I was a creative because I had big ideas. I was a photographer because I played in dark rooms. I was a writer because poems bounced around inside of my head.
Somewhere along the line, I lost that – and without it; I found that I didn’t quite belong anywhere and nothing really stuck.
The minute I started believing that I needed a license, a boss, a paycheck, a following, a degree, or a bunch of likes to own my creativity I stopped creating.
Simply put, life is just so better for me when I am creating.
And while there are still so many “adulting” things in my way from really returning to the kind of creative freedom of my youth (three kids, stomach flu’s, dinner to cook, bills to pay) – – – and while there are weeks that fly by and I can barely carve out enough time to take a photo (which makes me wonder how the hell these Instagram moms find a way to document their every move while looking so fabulously staged by the way) – – – and while all the typos, blurred photos, dark shadows, improper sentence structures of my learning process still eat me alive and whisper in my ear that I’m dog shit… I am CREATING.
With every spare moment I have, with every medium I can express through, with every extra dollar I can dedicate to the cause…. I am learning. I am growing. I am belonging. I am seen. I am known. I am I am creating.
Which makes me A Creative.
And just like that, I am real.