It has taken a long time, but I have finally found a way to explain one of the most influential forces in my life.
And it's affecting millions of others like me.
Do you feel "different"?
I've always believed God created me to do something different, something rooted in the creative spirit. Even when I was young, I thought I might end up going down a different path, The one all the other kids traveled seemed boring and unappealing.
When we think of "creative" people, we tend to think of actors or musicians. Those are common pursuits for creative people, but creativity takes many forms. My version of creativity came in writing and playing music.
I started writing when I was in sixth grade. By the time I was in high school, I had taken up drums. While I loved writing, I fell in love with the idea of being a musician. I couldn't think of anything else I'd rather do. Looking back, I'd say this was because I could share the passion with other musicians. There’s nothing quite like the bond among band members. But writing is a lonely road.
By the time I graduated from high school, I had decided to become a professional drummer.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t prepared. I didn’t have a mentor or anyone who could give me insight into what it would take to become a professional musician. I had no idea what I had signed up for. I was completely lost. And I discovered just how unprepared I was when I went off to a major university for a degree in music.
Eventually, the pressure became too much and I quit, giving up on my dream altogether. I don’t believe in holding on to regrets but in this case, I regret making that decision as early as I did. Who knows what would have happened if I had tried a little harder?
The creative spirit didn't die my dream. It subsided for a while but was still very much a part of me. Every now and then, maybe just before drifting off to sleep or driving home from a day at the office, I could hear the faint whisper of my creative spirit, encouraging me to dream again. Because of it, I never knew what it meant to be content.
Not that I didn’t try. After giving up on my dream to be a professional drummer, I decided to get a job, find a wife and a dog, and settle down in a nice little house somewhere in Suburbia.
That was my idea of heaven.
But none of that came easy for me. Of course, I was a big part of the problem. I replaced my passion to be creative with shallow aspirations. Since pursuing my creative desire was apparently an "unrealistic" lifestyle choice, I decided to emulate the people around me—do what they did, be what they were. That only made me more insecure than I already was.
No one wants to be like I was at that time in my life. I was on a long road to nowhere, with no idea what I wanted to do with my life, what I wanted to be—heck, I wasn’t even sure who I wanted to be. I tried on several faces, some nice, others not so nice, but all phony. Somehow, I lost touch with the real me and didn’t bother going to look for him.
There's not much you can do about it
When you’re a creative person, it’s perfectly normal to think you might want to become an actor, a musician, a writer, or something like that. But it's also possible to channel that creative energy and leverage it to excel at something very...ordinary.
Most people, especially our parents, don’t know what to do with a kid who has the feelings creative people have. In their desperation to help you avert disaster, they push you in a more "stable" direction. They tell you how impossible it will be to turn your dream into a reality.
“That’s not a good decision,” they say. “You don’t want to starve, do you?”
Of course not. I don’t think anyone wants to starve.
Even though they're trying to do what's best for you (at least in their minds), what they don't do is encourage you and help you figure out what to do with those feelings. You end up thinking those creative notions inside of you—the ones woven into your DNA—are dangerous. So, you learn not to trust those feelings because you think they’re going to lead you down the wrong path.
After all, no one wants to starve.
So, you give up on the fantasy and replace it with phony aspirations and emulate the people around you. It appears your only choice is to be ordinary and do what everyone else does.
But you’re never content because that isn’t who you are. You’re a Creative and there’s nothing you can do about it. Deep down, you know that if you pursue those dreams, you’re chasing after the impossible, but you’ll never know contentment if you don’t pursue them either.
Don't do as I did and spend several years of your life trying to be someone you aren’t only to end up realizing you made a mistake and wasted a lot of time. The irony of it all is that you'll most likely end up pursuing those creative dreams anyway.
At least you won't have any regrets this time.