What is a “Highly Creative” Person, Anyway?

"Crayons Colliding" by Yours Truly

“Crayons Colliding” by Yours Truly

This morning, as I was forcing myself out of sleep fog, I read a great article from Huffington Post titled “18 Things Highly Creative People Do Differently.” Click HERE to read it for yourself. I found myself relating to just about every “habit” or behavior as described in the article. What stuck out to me the most, however, is that scientists have been straying away from the left brain/right brain descriptor, and have, instead, begun to point us towards the creative part of the brain. This makes so much sense to me, particularly because I would argue that I am a creative who uses both sides of her brain.

Lately, I’ve been doing impromptu research on the creative person in general, in hopes of finding some answers for myself. I’ve found myself unleashing my curiosity more and more. Perhaps it’s because I’m getting older and really want to ground myself in my self-awareness. Or perhaps it’s because I’m practicing my creative freedom so often these days, that I want to make sure what I create has meaning. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s because I’ve become apathetic with so many things and wonder why the hell I just don’t care about said things I used to have anxiety over. Yeah, it’s definitely the latter.

Part of unleashing creativity also means letting go of a lot of other things. The past year has been an incredible journey for me as an artist, a writer, and a business owner. I see how so many pieces of that journey connected in order to lead me to the here and now…to this very blog post, even.

As I’ve opened up my mind to this path and to self-discovery, I’ve, at times, felt like a child again: finding things I like and things I don’t. And even being honest about it all. If I don’t like something, I admit it AND I stop doing it. (Within reason, of course. I don’t like paying bills, but ain’t no such thing as a free lunch, huh?) And if I like something, I am making more room for it in my life.

When I think of change, evolution, and style, I’m constantly reminded of Madonna. What has made her such a huge success has been her willingness to reinvent herself–her style, her sound, her very persona. And yet, she has remained an artist throughout; the term “artist” being the most important label for her career. She’s brilliant, she’s genius, she’s creative.

And that’s what I strive to be. Creative. Or, rather, Highly Creative.

Though I readily label myself as creative, I have come to understand that in order to keep such a title, one must constantly re-evaluate, reinvent, and question–ALWAYS, always question. And when you ask so many damn questions, it can very well drive you mad. However, if you keep asking those questions, you eventually learn how to ask the right questions. Not the right questions for your parents, or your partner, or your teacher, but for YOU. It’s a very relative, organic process, I believe. If we stop asking questions, if we stop being curious about life, then we start to stifle our creative brain and resort to right brain/left brain–feeling that there is some piece missing.

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” -Albert Einstein

If you are truly a “highly creative” person, then I would bet all money that you can resonate with this. But don’t be too impressed, I don’t have that much money. 😉

Ernest Hemingway once said, “Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.” Perhaps that holds some truth to it; even Wisdom Literature says that the more knowledge a person gains, the more she or he will feel burdened. But I do not think this has to be an absolute–especially for the intelligent creative person. Sure, there is the feeling of torment when us creatives cannot be devoted to the activities we prefer (writing, painting, reading, playing an instrument, building, etc.).

However, there is something to be said of the creative person who actively pursues their passions and talents. I am finding that the more time I devote to what I love to do–to write and to create in a variety of ways–the better I feel. The nicer I am to those around me. The quicker my mind is to grasp difficult concepts. I’m expanding the creative part of my brain, finding harmony between the right and left brains.

When I spent the past several years shying away from my true passions, perhaps under the influence of lies such as: “There is no money in being an artist unless one is really amazing,” or “One cannot make a career out of writing if she or he isn’t first properly trained,” I found myself becoming increasingly unhappy. And finally, when I couldn’t take it anymore, I abandoned everything that had to do with my routined and overly-busy life. At first, I was somewhat lost. But then, when I found my own rhythm and gave myself space and time to go through self-discovery, I was happier. Even when the balance of my bank account was something I should have been stressing about.

So now, how does this all connect? Well, I think it’s important to remember that not all us creatives are created equally. There are people like me who have both a penchant for organization and routine, as well as sometimes having a messy workspace and a horrible short-term memory. And there are people like my youngest sister who are amazingly talented in artistry and have no room in their minds for things unrelated to their craft. Creatives must be nurtured, but no one will nurture them until they nurture themselves–and demonstrate just how devoted to their passions they are.

As the Huffington Post article explains, “highly creative” people are those who daydream often, observe just about everything, look for new challenges and experiences, are deep thinkers, and strategize. Without such habits, a highly creative person will begin to deteriorate. I know I did. I decayed for eight years until I couldn’t take it anymore. Either I had to make a choice to accept my lot in life and find some kind of contentment elsewhere, OR make a choice to start from scratch and follow my heart.

Following one’s heart is a very, VERY scary decision sometimes, but not following one’s heart…well, I think that’s even more scary.

If you are a creative person, and you’re already following your dreams and passions, then bravo! That is awesome. But if you’re a creative person who feels stifled and unsure…maybe you know you want a change but feel scared, or don’t know where to start: do some soul-searching and ask yourself: “What do I REALLY want?” Be honest with yourself–it might be surprising. Don’t believe that happiness and creativity are destined for someone else. And stop trying to talk yourself out of taking a risk.

I wish there was a magic formula for risk-taking that always ended in success, but there’s not. However, if you’re doing something that makes you happy, then that’s success in its own right. Nurture yourself, nurture your craft, and reach out to those who support what you want to do. Beautiful and lasting creations take time to build, so build carefully and passionately.