Generally I am quite thankful for who I am and how I am. Over the years, I’ve pretty much come to accept the quirky nature of my being and way of thinking, even if that involves emotional ups and downs, the absolute necessity to write when I feel inspiration, and an unalterable inability to fit into systems, organizations and just a regular type job.
But there are times when I wish, “Why couldn’t I have become a lawyer? A banker? An accountant?” Something… anything with defined hours and a paycheck that deposited into my account on the 1st and 15th of every month… the sheer security and sameness of that… yet knowing that would be nothing but a stifling, soul-sucking experience.
So as I was doing a bit of housecleaning recently on the blog site, working my way through over 1000 draft posts I’ve accumulated over the years, and I stumbled onto this article from a year ago, I thought it would make for a good topic of conversation. It is titled: “A Little Weird? Prone to Depression? Blame Your Creative Brain”.
In it, the writer identifies some common traits for creative types. See if these resonate with you:
* Creative people have characteristics that make them more vulnerable.
* “A highly original person may seem odd or strange to others.”
* Creative brains have difficulty “gating” sensory input.
* “Creative people are more likely to be productive and more original if surrounded by other creative people.”
Perhaps the single most interesting point made in the article is this:
According to [neuroscientist Nancy C.] Andreasen [author of “The Creative Brain”], our openness to new experiences, tolerance for ambiguity, and the way we approach life enables us to perceive things in a fresh and novel way. Less creative types “quickly respond to situations based on what they have been told by people in authority”, while creatives live in a more fluid and nebulous (read: incredibly stressful) world.
“Such traits can lead to feelings of depression or social alienation,” writes Andreasen. They sure can.
Luckily, though creatives experience higher rates of mood disorders than the general population, the extremes of highs and lows tend to be brief, balanced by long periods of normal affect, or euthymia. During these respite periods, creatives frequently reflect upon and draw from memories and experiences of their darker times to create their best art.
Every person has value. Each individual has gifts. But creative types have a unique set of capabilities and instincts that in effect define who we are. At times, hopefully most of the time, we experience that as a positive. But not always and on some occasions, the pull to create and what that requires of us is really, really hard.
So my questions to you are these: Are you thankful for your creativity? If so, why? On the other hand, do you have regrets about pursuing your creative passions? Are there times when you wish you could live a more ‘normal’ life?
I’m really curious to see what folks have to say.
For more of the article, go here.