Creativity in Context: What it Takes to Break out of the Box

My mother often told me that I was the extrovert of the family as a child, the odd man out in a group of overly brainy super-introverts. My brothers would joke that my actions were determined by the spinning of a wheel, much like the Wheel of Fortune, and that once I had switched one activity, the prior one was completely forgotten. Much to their misery, I seemed to navigate by my own GPS, not governed by the layout of concrete streets of conventionality. If there was one word to describe my role in the family back then, it would be: abnormality.

    This includes my role as the only female child of my family. My brothers were substantially older than me, and they were best friends with each other, meaning I was not part of their little duo. However, I never let them leave me out. I would watch them play Mario 64 and Kirby Crystal Shards (They’re Nintendo 64 games, if you do not recognize the names. It’s an old system now, but we loved that thing) and I insisted that I sleep in their room. Although I never seemed as addicted to games as my brothers were, I loved those video games. The characters, the plots, I loved them more than anyone else could have known.

    However, my brothers did not always let me be with them, and they did sports too, so I was often left alone without anyone to watch. I was never lonely though, because being a girl with an over-active mind like myself; it was too easy to cognitively busy myself. My biggest distraction?: My imagination.

    I am not completely unlike all children though; I was pretty egocentric when I was in my mind. My main super-hero was myself, and she had my name, and she looked like me too. She was an adult, beautiful, blond, healthy, and of course, with the strongest super-powers ever. Although her main element was water, she could control anything she wanted. I created a separate planet for her, children, grandchildren, citizens (who were also named after me… eventually changed the name of this ethnicity of people to Crystalnians when I finally realized how weird my naming sense was), etc.. My main character would go out to the different dimensions and save VIDEO GAME CHARACTERS. I can’t even count how many times I saved Mario or Sonic. These stories I made were filled with so much drama. My main character almost died a countless amount of times, but of course, she always came back to life eventually. However, most of her stories would fall into the video game worlds, as if I were somehow in control of it all.

    Imagination was a big part of my life back then. Although I still am enamored with creating plots and characters, I don’t feel as creative as I was back then. Back then, I was creating whatever I wanted. It was fun. One could even call it an obsession. Either way, the act of creating was a pleasure. However, was it anything beyond imaginary? Could it be called creative?

    Imagination and imaginative thoughts are often linked together with the word creative. The Oxford Dictionary describes creative as this:

        Creative: Relating to or involving the use of imagination or original ideas in order to create something.

    However, creative has taken on some baggage because of culture. According to the Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus, because creative has become an advertising buzzword for products, like creative cooking or creative hairstyling, creative has become a word simply meaning ‘new’ or ‘different’. Creative today is a lazy word that has become a label or a replacement for the word ‘original’. Original may be more specified, however, they’re meant to say the same thing. I thought to be creative was to ‘Think out of the box’.

    The process to become ‘creative’ is a road paved in uncertainty, talent, and luck. Unfortunately, because culture has such a huge influence on us, creativity is closely tied to what we know. The words imagination and imaginative themselves are tied to the Latin word imago, which means ‘image’. I interpret that to being our creativity is closely related to the ‘images’ that surround us.

    The biggest limits of creativity, in my opinion, are these three factors:

  1. Competition
  2. Culture
  3. Our ‘image’ of normality.

If you think about it, who were the people considered the brightest in our history? The ones who are remembered were usually given the title eccentric. Remember Albert Einstein and his crazy hairdo? Virginia Woolf had psychological issues. Edgar Allen Poe had issues as well. Vincent Van Gogh cut off his ear. Tycho, an astronomer, had a dwarf dress up like a clown and sit under the table during his parties for no reason. If I look up the amount of drugs the Beatles used, I see the better question to ask is what drugs they DIDN’T use.

The list of insane geniuses goes on. However, how does the general population go about creativity like they did? Must we develop disorders, have clown dwarves sit under our dinner tables or overdose on drugs to be creative? I don’t think so. I think the biggest thing we have to cast off in order for us to free ourselves is to throw away the limits of other people/culture and our visions of normality. Humanity has allowed itself to become a herd of sheep sometimes. We may never be free of the bandwagon mentality, but we can certainly try to reach out of the crowd if we find boxed in by people’s limitations.

There are possible ways to be creative within the ‘norm’ as well. I’m not asking people to discard society here, although it does have a huge influence on us. However, as I live in a family who is bound by perfectionism, I can tell you that never taking risks or never stepping out of your comfort zone is going to result in living like a prisoner. You are MORE than that. I do not want a society bound by a box. I want to see a society who can show some courage.

There has been a few times where my words have become a ‘croquet hammer in a golf [situation]’. There have been situations when I have been an abnormality, and I’m here to say that it’s okay. No matter who you are, you are not a mistake, you are beautiful in every way, and even if you are strange, you are strangely loved. No matter the paths you take, there is still a way to be creative. Keep looking for it on the beaten path. That is where you’ll find it. You might have to fight off a tiger to find it, but that’s what you got to do.

Good luck in your bouts of creativity!

~~~

See you next week! Next series will be on my process of novel writing!

    

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