My office space is sandwiched between the offices of about a dozen or so therapists, which I find ironically interesting due to the number of self-help books that I’ve read over the years to make peace with my choice of being a creative/artist. One of the therapists that has an office across from mine happens to have an interesting voice and she often reminds me of Barbara Streisand. I don’t know her very well but the other day, I asked her if she sings? I saw a little smirk in the side of her smile, like I’d touched on something that had come up many other times. She said that it’s something that she would have liked to explore but that it wasn’t possible at this time. Then as she looked around my office, she said, “I would have liked to have been an artist,” and my response was, “You can. Anytime you’re ready to start, it’s available to you but you have to show up for it and do the work, like anything else.” Then she said, “No, you have that something that I don’t have.” When I heard those words, it made me grin because I found myself explaining how I didn’t land in a creative space in my office or career by chance. It’s been years in the making. My whole life actually, and I’m 39 at this point.
Later that day, I found myself reflecting on my early steps and how my dreams of being a creative came from swooning over magazine pages. I used to tear out and collect designs and photographs of images like they were nuggets of gold. Living in a pictorial world was a language of its own that I understood, archived and referenced over and over again. While the younger me wasn’t a big reader, I would spend a lot of my time at the library looking at pictures, design books, ornamentation and embellishment within the areas of graphic design, interior design, photography and occasionally architecture. I didn’t know why I was so attracted to what I was doing at the time, but on an instinctual level, it felt so right. My affinity for design was essentially developing a visual language that would factor into my vocation of choice. None of it was by accident, but looking back in time, there wasn’t clarity around what was happening. This ritual still plays itself out for me daily but now through my Pinterest boards.
This simple act of reflecting on the early beginnings of my creative pursuit fills me with a great deal of pride because it’s been a long journey. Maybe this happens to all of us by the sheer nature of aging? But I love that I didn’t give up on my dreams and that being proactive about them turned them into a reality. That’s not to say that I didn’t almost give up 100 times along the way because as you can imagine, being a creative doesn’t exactly make the top 10 list of the most lucrative careers to pursue. In fact, there’s a legacy of historical poverty that has made its way into the hearts and minds of mankind, in the realm of the arts.
Without getting too heady or woo-woo about this, one of the things that I try to explain to people who think that being creative is somehow magical or for the select few, it’s really just another language. It has its own alphabet and structure. The only time it’s misunderstood is by those who choose not to learn to speak the language. Otherwise, it’s available to anyone who seeks it out and becomes a practioner.