About a year ago, I learned that my husband was offered a job in Chicago. At the time we were living in Scottsdale, Arizona. While going home had always seemed appealing - family, old friends, familiar places, and that beautiful Chicago skyline - it suddenly seemed unnerving.
I was no longer the person I was when I left four years earlier. My priorities, perspective and life had changed. How could a new me move to an old home?
Beyond that, I couldn’t bring myself to even imagine telling my students I was leaving. They had made such an impact on my life. They had changed how I viewed the world, how I interacted with it, and how I planned to influence the world around me.
It’s difficult now to realize that it’s been a year. So much has changed. And yet hardly anything has.
As it’s still early in this new year, just like it was then, I am forced to trust that this was the road I was meant to take.
I don’t know about any of you, but sometimes being creative has made me feel like a bit of an oddball, a misfit. Not that I minded of course.
As I’ve grown older I’ve come to appreciate that feeling. I see the world in a way that most people don’t. I see the good and the bad, the blurred lines and those that are well defined.
To me, the world is filled with endless possibilities. That can daunting in some ways as well.
Recently, I was told to take a personality test. While I find them interesting, I’ve always taken them with a grain of salt. How can you know me from 25 questions?
This time the test referred to me as a paradox, a complicated individual. For a moment I was irritated. Complicated? Definitely. A paradox? I’ve always thought I was straightforward, honest.
Deeper in the description there was a quote from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi that stuck out, “If there is one word that makes creative people different from others, it is the word complexity. Instead of being an individual, they are a multitude...they tend to bring together the entire range of human possibilities within themselves. Creativity allows for paradox, light, shadows, inconsistency, even chaos - and creative people experience both extremes with equal intensity.”
I don’t expect everyone to agree but as an author I was struck by the idea that a creative person is a multitude. Seeing the world through different lenses allows me to create unique characters who experience life in ways far different from my own life.
Creativity can be difficult to define. While I find the quote enlightening it still doesn’t define what it means to be creative to me. I suppose that’s why we create art at all, to further understand ourselves and how we interact with the world around us.
As I bring myself closer and closer to publishing my first novel, I’ve realized that my heart pounds more often and sometimes I find myself feeling sick to my stomach.
It has taken my some time to learn this difference but this isn’t fear, panic or uncertainty. In fact, it’s the opposite.
I am beyond excited to share this novel with the world and every step forward brings me more joy.
But here’s the weird thing about the arts. Every song, every lyric, every painting, every dance, every scene written or acted is personal. You are your work. Putting it out there feels a lot like telling your secrets to the world. Because in a sense that’s exactly what you’re doing.
Lukas Graham sang, “‘Cause only those I really love will ever really know me.” And while that generally seems true, we all put our art out there in hopes of connecting with people, of letting others know they’re not alone, of teaching others through our experiences.
This journey so far has been terrifying in the most beautiful and uplifting way. I cannot wait for the world to see the beautiful world in my head.