Updated: May 8
By Juliana Sena
I don’t know how to have creative pursuits. Even after suggesting to write a piece on how I struggle to explore my creativity, I couldn’t find a good way to express my sentiments. Most of the time, people worry about what they’re going to do with their lives. “What am I gonna do when I grow up?” “How will I make money?” “Will I make my parents proud?” And while these questions are all still a harsh reality for me, the questions that put me in the most turmoil are: What am I good at? What do I love to do?
The issue for the common young adult tends to be that they know what they love but they don’t have the heart to pursue it– because it’s not safe. It’s a heart-wrenching situation, and still, I find myself envying the people who are stuck in it. I consider myself a pretty logical person– I always have been. So even from a young age, any aspirations– being an artist, a dancer, a singer– stayed where they should stay, my dreams. And even though I would constantly daydream about being a creative person, I never saw the point of pursuing my artistic side because, in my mind, there was “no point”.
Now, here I am at 19 not knowing how to be creative, and even worse, not knowing how to have the confidence to learn how to be. I’m a perfectionist. And when I’m not good at something and I don’t pick it up quickly, I drop it before I beat myself up about it more than I should. When I first realized that I lacked an artistic hobby in my life, I tried to make the time for it. Every day, I would try something new. I would draw. I would watch tutorials on how to draw. I would realize I was bad at drawing. And I would stop trying to draw and try whatever else. After a while, this whole cycle got very old and very quickly I lost hope in my creative abilities. The problem wasn’t even my lack of skill itself, but my lack of ideas. Nowhere did I know how to add my own flair, a Juliana touch. Soon, I wasn’t only questioning whether I was creative or not, but whether I even knew who I really was. How can someone be creative without knowing what makes them who they are– what makes them unique?
Trying to explore my creativity was and is a humbling experience. I can comfortably call myself confident in most realms of my life but this one. I consider creativity, or the act of finding your creativity, to be a form of vulnerability. In any and all of my attempts to explore my creative side, the question comes down to how gifted, unique, or authentic I really am. What if I’m unoriginal? And why does it hurt me if I am?
Finding my creativity is a part of my self-discovery that I have yet to figure out. Despite my artistic and creative stagnation, I’ve been able to change and grow in many other aspects of my life. And because of that, I’ve found that I’m most productive in discovering who I am when I’m forced to– when I’m challenged. My friendships with incredibly talented and gifted people motivate me to improve my own abilities and skills. Through our discussions, interactions, or afternoon activities, the friendships that I value most are the ones that, in one way or another, make me the most uncomfortable. They may be a reminder of what I feel I lack or maybe it’s simply because their sheer talent is intimidating.
Joining Charcoal, for example, is my cry for help– a continuation of my desperate urge to find who I am outside of my everyday life. The more entrenched I become in this publication about art, the more unsatisfied I become with being a self-proclaimed “uncreative” person. I’m exposed to people who, at least from my perspective, can tap into their artistry with a facility I could not dare to envision. And what’s crazier is that they have no sense of fear or intimidation in making their ideas come to full fruition. They don’t question whether they’ll be able to produce what they want or whether it’ll be as unique as they want it to be. But maybe that’s where I differ from them. Maybe they don’t question the originality of their creativity because they know they shouldn’t. Maybe they understand that being creative is never about competing over who’s the best or most unique, but simply an escape from their everyday stresses. Maybe creativity and originality don’t have to go hand-in-hand. And maybe I’ll only unleash that part of me once I change my individualistic ideal of what being a creative means.