I consider myself a highly creative person. I’ve always been attracted to taking a feeling or an experience and translating that into something tangible or meaningful. I’ve always loved art and music and admired individuals who, like myself, identify as “creative.”
I’ve found the most joy in life through writing, playing music, drawing, painting and using a camera to capture the world around me the way I see it. I’m the happiest I can be when I have an outlet to channel my personal need to create. I feel fulfilled and life seems more colorful, somehow, when I can proudly and artistically represent it.
But sometimes identifying as creative feels like a flaw. When I don’t feel creative, I feel broken. If I can’t translate an experience into a song, I feel disingenuous. When I don’t succeed at being what makes up a majority of my identity, I feel like a total failure.
Maybe I’m being dramatic, but I know I’m not alone in having a passion for creativity, and I think my feelings are fairly common. Certainly, everyone who plays an instrument or who has some sort of craft makes mistakes and has to practice, failing over and over again until they finally get it right. Then they have to turn around and do it all again.
Being creative is hard, and it takes forever. People don’t see the sacrifices and failures behind a great song, a stunning photograph or an elaborate painting — all they see is the finished product.
They don’t see the 200 photos a photographer took before finally shooting the one you just scrolled past on Instagram. They don’t hear the dozens of revisions and recordings that get scrapped before a musician finally releases the song you just skipped on Spotify. They don’t see the brushes, and the paint and the canvas; all they see is a painting hanging in a gallery.
But here’s the twist: We keep doing it. We continue creating. We continue to put these extensions of ourselves on display for the rest of the world to momentarily enjoy and then toss to the side.
And that’s life. That’s part of being creative. Sometimes it’s hard, but the point I’m really trying to make is it’s OK. We should continue failing.
Will Smith released a motivational video on Jan. 8 where he said, “Fail early, fail often, fail forward.”
And he’s absolutely right. I’m starting to understand that failing doesn’t make me a failure. The only way to succeed is to fail first. The only way to get up is to fall first.
I’m not perfect; I haven’t figured everything out. But neither has anyone else. No one succeeds at everything they do. No one really even knows what they’re doing. Every moment we experience is new and something we haven’t experienced before.
I’m still trying to change my mentality to really understand that when I go shoot 200 photos and only come back with one, I didn’t just fail 199 times, but I succeeded once.
Understanding the difference between who we are and what our creations represent is a gray area that’s easy to get lost in. But the act of creating, even though it may produce an extension of ourselves or a representation of how we feel, is just a process. And the end product is something we should be proud of.
Our mistakes and our shortcomings are what make us unique. The sacrifices and failures behind the process of creating is what makes the final product something you can step back from and call creative.
We always have a choice, and choosing to keep trying even after we fail is the only way to finally be able to say, “I did this.”