In 1977, my town’s local newspaper held a contest to win tickets to see the new sci-fi movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” (Yes, I’m THAT old…)
Me and my two brothers all entered. We had to draw what we thought visiting space aliens would look like.
I remember working really hard on my drawing. It was nothing more than a regular human with two very large, multi-faceted bug eyes and antennae. Of course, he was also wearing a nifty space suit, too. I was very excited to win those tickets with my glorious entry.
In the end, it was my older brother’s drawing depicting scary aliens with tentacled octopus heads that won the tickets. It was still pretty cool that someone in our house won…even though he went with a friend and not me.
Looking back on it now, my drawing didn’t even compare to my brother’s. His was incredibly detailed and pretty realistic compared to mine (as far as space aliens go), but that didn’t stop me from entering. I never once reconsidered my bug-eyed entry or my chances of winning.
I was 13 at the time and I had no fear.
Somewhere along the way, that changed. Ten years later, I would have second guessed sending it off after seeing my brother’s masterpiece. Twenty years later, I may never have even entered.
Fear is the killer of Creativity.
We don’t have it as children, but we seem to be chock full of it as adults. The pressure to be accepted fuels our fears, while extinguishing our creativity.
Fear can only have power over us if we chose to allow it. We can never be truly “fearless”, because we’re human, after all. We can, however, still be fearful and push forward in spite of it.
All Creatives face many fears on a daily basis. Here are a four of them and ways in which you can combat them:
Fear I’m Not Creative
This is probably the number one fear for many people who have a chance to express their creativity. They tell themselves this so that their work won’t ever be compared to others. After all, if nothing is ever created, how can it be compared to anything else?
Everyone is creative. It’s in our nature as human beings, yet so many of us claim otherwise. When someone says, “I can’t draw,” for instance.
What they’re really saying is, “I cannot draw with the technical skill of someone to whom I am comparing myself and who has trained longer than I have in this particular skill, so I won’t even make the attempt.”
I guess it’s easier to just use those three words, instead.
The fear of not being creative comes from the fear of being compared to someone else. Usually to someone who is at a further point on that creative journey.
To beat this fear, you must first accept that, if you are human, you are creative. Period.
After that, you must stop comparing your work to anyone else’s. You may not ever be Van Gogh, but that does not mean you are not creative. If I wanted to see Van Gogh’s work, I’d go to Van Gogh. I want to see yours.
“We’re all born creative, it takes a little while to become afraid.” – Seth Godin
Fear I’ll be Seen
Expressing your creativity is an act of vulnerability. Much like failure, we’re taught early on that being vulnerable is a sign of weakness, but the only way to truly let your creativity flow completely is to bare your soul to the world. To many, this is far too great a risk.
Humans are tribal creatures. Solitude does not bode well for us. So, to be part of our tribe, we feel we must do what is accepted and fear that which would have us rejected. Being seen risks our acceptance within our tribe, so most chose to conform, rather than shine.
This is a challenge for everyone, especially Creatives. When we start out our lives, our tribe is chosen for us. As we become adults, we have the power (and the duty) to choose our tribe. A tribe that will accept us for who we truly are.
You only get one life. Why choose to deny who you are in order to fit into someone else’s mold?
You are unique in all the Universe. We need you to be more of YOU and less of NOT-YOU.
It takes great strength to reveal your vulnerability to the world. If your authentic self is not accepted by your current tribe, then you are in the wrong tribe, my friend.
“Sometimes to be seen is the same thing as being saved.” – Mary Rakow
Fear of Failure
We’re brought up in an education system that punishes failure, yet told at the same time that we learn the most from our mistakes. No wonder we’re confused about failure!
Failure is one of those taboo topics that everyone avoids. How many business giants, Hollywood stars, or music celebrities are labeled as “overnight successes?”
I can pretty much guarantee that for most of them, “overnight” meant years of struggle and multiple failures. Yet, no one wants to see this part of the tale. The magical story of luck and perfection is much more attractive, even though we know in our hearts that it isn’t true.
The truth is that failure is GOOD. Forget all that you’ve been taught about it being otherwise.
If you try something and you fail, choose to fail forward. Every failure is a lesson and every lesson is a step closer to success.
Imagine what you could do if you stopped fearing failure and started embracing it, instead.
“Don’t fear failure. Not failure, but low aim, is the crime. In great attempts, it is glorious even to fail.” – Bruce Lee
Fear of Starting
The first word. The first brush stroke. The first note. The first mark.
The start is the greatest obstacle for every Creative. There is no greater amount of fear than the anxiety right before the beginning.
Creative Block is nothing more than protective procrastination.
The anxiety of starting has destroyed countless creations from ever being born. What’s that famous saying about cemeteries being filled with unfulfilled dreams?
There is only one cure for this fear and that is to just start.
Don’t focus on the painting – just the first stroke. Don’t focus on the novel – just the first sentence. Don’t focus on the song – just the first note.
Even if you don’t know what to do, just do something. Anything. Just by starting, you will “break the seal.” Action creates momentum, and momentum creates inspiration.
“Start now. Start where you are. Start with fear. Start with pain. Start with doubt. Start with hands shaking. Start with voice trembling. Start and don’t stop. Start where you are, with what you have. Just start.” – Ijeoma Umebinyuo
Fear is only as powerful as you let it.
You have the choice. You can either allow fear to rule over you, or you can rule over it.
I’m hoping you choose the latter, because the world needs what only you can create!
Keep Moving Forward!