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 have always believed God created me to do something different, something creative. Even when I was young, I felt I was going to do something not everyone else was doing.
When we think of creative people, we tend to think of actors or musicians. That’s probably because those are common pursuits for creative people. For me, creativity inspired me to write and play music.
I started writing when I was in grade school and 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 met other musicians and could share the passion with them. Writing is a lonely road, and there’s nothing quite like the bond among band members.
By the time I graduated from high school, I had decided to become a professional drummer.
But 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. I gave up on becoming a professional musician altogether. I don’t regret the decision but I regret making it so soon. Who knows what would have happened if I had tried a little harder?
However, the desire to be creative didn’t go away. 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 side, 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 of becoming a 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 neither love nor money came easy for me. Of course, I was a big part of the problem. I replaced my passion to be creative with shallow aspirations. I just wanted 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 the creative type, it’s common to think you might want to become an actor, a musician, a writer, or something similar. And while that could happen, it’s also possible that you were meant to do something else entirely.
The problem is, most people, especially our parents, don’t know what to do with a kid who has the feelings creative people have. It's as though they start to panic. “Oh no, I don’t want Johnny to struggle like I did,” they say. So, they push you into doing something you don’t really want to do and start by telling you how impossible it is for you to turn the dream into a reality. “That’s not safe,” they tell you. “You don’t want to starve, do you?”
Of course not, dad. 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 usually 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. You don’t trust the feelings because you think they’re going to lead you down the wrong path. No one wants to starve. Why would you subject yourself to a miserable life?
So, you give up on the fantasy and replace it with phony aspirations and try to emulate the people around you.
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.
And if you're like me, you end up spending 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 feelings anyway, with no idea where they will take you.
At least this time you'll be going somewhere.