We humans have a universal tendency to only go so deep. No, I am not accusing us of not thinking. We ponder and analyze and rationalize to our little heart's content, but we do this on a very superficial level. If there is something in our lives that is causing us pain or even slight discomfort, we label it with the first word that comes to our heads and spend the rest of the time trying to justify our definition to ourselves and everyone else.
I am incredibly guilty of this. Let me explain. I have always been a very private person. In fact, I used to love to think of myself as mysterious. I would relish the thought of others not being able to truly understand me. At the best of times, I was aloof. At the worst of times I was a tortured soul in isolation. At any given moment, you could be sure that one of the following thoughts was running through my head: No one understands. I am alone in this. I can't talk to anyone. If only you really knew. You don't get me at all and I certainly don't get you.
This ended up hugely affecting my creative process. Inevitably, the time comes when you need someone else to educate, to give an opinion or critique, or to collaborate with. In fact, I started to become aware of a slowly expanding desire to connect with others, to be part of a community. I had ideas I wanted to communicate and I wanted someone to listen. However, when faced with this desire, my aloof little self began to kick and scream. My emotions were pendulous: I need you, I don't need you! Come here, go away. Tell me you like it, I really don't care. Slowly what began to happen was that while projecting how I thought others would respond, I actually began to hate my own creations. They became constant reminders of my unhappy existence and my failure to connect to others.
What an unhappy existence it was! I had decided it was simply my personality to be this distant unreachable person, and so I proceeded to live my life this way. And I was miserable. One day, I decided to sit and look this misery square in the face. I decided to stop defining myself in a way that justifies and excuses me from responsibility. I looked and looked as honestly as I could, and what I discovered was, that it was not other people who didn't understand me. It was never the other people. It was a scared little girl inside me who was doing everything in her power to protect her fragile existence. I was scared of failing. I was scared of being wrong. I was scared of being challenged. I was scared of being unable to defend myself and my position. I was scared of being asked a question and not knowing the answer. I was scared of looking a fool. Ultimately, I was scared of not being good enough and my creativity suffered. And by suffered I mean that it was nearly non-existent. My energy was being spent justifying and defining who I thought I was, leaving almost nothing for pure creativity, passion, and joy.
I am trying my very best to be completely honest and the difference is amazing. It's really not as hard as it might seem. For you see, I am not "fixing" the situation by forcing myself to interact. Instead, I stay alert for any thoughts that might try to convince me I am not good enough. I am aware of them only to the extent that I choose to ignore them. Miraculously, everything else falls into place. At the end of the day, when I am happy with myself, interaction can be simply fantastic. From day to day, I am struck with the incredible realization that I am never alone. Creative young minds the world over are struggling with the same issues, pondering the same questions, realizing the incredible possibilities of living in today's world, and best of all, they want to talk about it! Once I climbed off this self-made pedestal, I found myself surrounded by true creative minds, exciting collaborative projects, and enough good ideas to last several lifetimes.
I realize this specific example doesn't apply to everyone, maybe not even anyone. However, what I want to impart today is the need to sit and look squarely at whatever is causing a glitch in your creative process. Stop trying to rationalize things. Just sit and look. Maybe, just maybe are you covering something up? Just be honest, that's all. I myself have a long way to go with this, but can rest easy in knowing that I am being as honest as I can possibly be right now!