"Creativity is the natural order of life. Life is energy: pure creative energy."
Emily Riggs is the creative spirit behind The Gratitude Journals - a shared online journal where any Tom, Dick or Harriet can declare & share snippets of what makes them grateful. When she's not connecting the world through stories of gratitude, Emily can be found with tiny bits of paper writing fairy letters - minuscule & adorable notes & gifts for children from the fairy world. She courageously joins the V project & shares her thoughts on vulnerability, facing the inner doubts & soldiering on through the fear. ‘Creativity is not reserved for a select few. It's available for anyone who has the courage to take it.’ Why is leaning towards creative outlets often met with fear?
When thinking about these questions I typed into Google ‘Reasons to be creative’ it came up with 250,000,000 links. ‘Fear of creativity’ gave me 51,300,000. Creativity is scary, it is met by fear but it is so worth it. As said by the wonderful Julia Cameron, ‘Creativity is the natural order of life. Life is energy: pure creative energy.’ She points out how we are all creations ourselves and we should continue this by developing our own creativity.
Expressing your creativity is terrifying, it is putting yourself out into the world in physical or vocal form for others to see, judge and potentially criticise. It is another, different form of expression. However, the chances are people will love what you do, they will respect your vulnerability. Embrace the fear, be grateful for it, it is normal and is teaching you. Know that you are not alone in fear. Acknowledge that creativity is a journey, there is no right or wrong, what really counts is the process and the way you feel while creating. Creativity opens up our thinking and allows us to look at ‘problems’ differently with a fresh mind.
If you are brave enough to embrace creativity, you will be rewarded hugely. It will open up your mind, rewire your thought process and make you look at the world differently.
I truly believe that we all have an inbuilt creative ability and if we are willing to connect or reconnect with it anyone can be creative. It is something that is often ‘knocked out of us’ in school or by others around us going through life. Most of us have experienced a creative naysayer at some point… the ones who say what you produce is not good enough, who discourage rather than lift you up, the people who mark your art or music or writing as ‘bad.’ I would say that there is no such thing. Any form of personal expression is a beautiful thing, something that needs nurturing and practicing. It is something that should be treated with love and care and patience.
A TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert ‘Your Elusive Creative Genius’ really helped me with this. She talks about how the ancient Greeks and Romans believed that creativity came from Daemons – divine attendant spirits. Even Socrates believed he had one. And it is Daemons that are responsible for our creativity, that way if your work isn’t the success you had hoped then it isn not all your fault, the ‘Daemon’ is also responsible!!
"To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength." Vulnerability is often seen as something we admire in others but detest in ourselves. How do we actively try to close the gap with these concepts?
I think that anything really worth doing scares you a little (or a lot!). Putting yourself on the line means that you are open to judgement, hurt and humiliation but what is the worst that can happen? I find it helps to look at the positives that could come from being vulnerable. For me The Gratitude Journals have been a bit of a steep lesson in vulnerability! It has involved sharing something I am really passionate about with the rest of the world. I possibly unwisely installed a statistic checker on the account that lets me know when people have ‘liked’ or ‘unliked’ the account. The first time I realised it did this and saw the people who had ‘unliked’ I felt upset and like the idea wasn’t worthy then I looked at the new likes which way outweighed them and thought of the happiness it brings me and realised it isn’t worth worrying about.
Stop worrying about what others think or like or don’t like, just be true to your own passions. In a recent workshop I went to in London, Mastin Kipp told us to think of 1 thing we could do that scared us today. Then 1 thing for each day this week, carry this on for a month, year, six years, think of what you can achieve! In the break after I turned around and told the four ladies behind me about The Gratitude Journals, I did not know them, I went bright red at the thought of telling them about something I was so passionate about, something I have put so much love and energy into. I was scared and I felt vulnerable. But I was brave, I turned around and did it and I was so rewarded, they loved the idea and shared my passion. There was no need to let that fear take hold in the pit of my stomach but I acknowledged that I was feeling it and carried on regardless.
“When you breathe into fear it becomes adventure.” What was one of your most terrifying/rewarding experiences?
I have a habit of getting itchy feet when I stay in one place for two long, I seem to have an inbuilt need to travel and explore! One of the most terrifying, yet exciting experiences was setting off to Nepal with two school friends. Kat and I flew out initially, both fair and blonde and we stuck out like a sore thumb!! We knew that we were going to volunteer for two weeks but had no other plans so we literally flew out into the unknown. We spent hours on buses with beautifully spirited Nepalese men, women and chickens! We rode elephants, had no internet or phones and went back to basics. It was one of the best experiences I have ever leapt into and even formed my final University project. Kat and I were sat on one of the local buses, she had just told me she knew the species of the fly on our bus and I was trying to work out what to do as my next project. We then got onto the subject of HIV as a large number of the orphans where we were working had parent’s who had died of HIV. I decided there and then that was what I wanted to focus my project on. The project led me on another amazing adventure developing a device to reduce the risk of HIV transmission in breastfeeding and meeting wonderful people around the world!