We all experience fear at some point in life, but rarely stop to question the purpose and validity of that fear. The final module of Elizabeth Gilbert’s online course, What is Creative Living? involves doing just this.
Over the last several years, I’ve seen countless books, blogs, and podcast episodes that claim to offer tools to become fearless. Fear is uncomfortable, so it seems intuitive that we would avoid experiencing fear at all cost. However, fear is a part of our being and developing an aversion to part of ourselves will only lead to pain and suffering. There is nothing heroic about that.
We often hate fear, blaming it for holding us back from both small challenges and our biggest dreams. We should instead develop a baseline of gratitude for our fears because, at one point, it’s saved our lives. Fear told us to get out the water when the waves got too big, and fear told us to hail a cab when the creepy guy at the bar was getting a little to friendly.
When fear arises, thank it–it’s simply trying to keep you alive. Have a conversation with fear; with an empathetic and maternal firmness, tell your fear that no one’s life is in danger. Allow fear to be in the room, but don’t allow it to make any decisions.
Have you ever prided yourself on being a perfectionist? According to Elizabeth Gilbert, perfectionism is just fear in high-healed shoes, pearls, and a mink coat. She argues that perfectionists are often too scared to release a final product, and sometimes too fearful to even start a creative endeavor. They dream of an immaculate ideal they they couldn’t possibly live up to.
Perfectionism is an interesting trait because it’s a terrible detriment to having a meaningful and soulful life, but it has an incredible trick which is that it pretends to be an asset. As a recovering perfectionist myself, I can fully attest to the validity of this theory.
The idea of perfection only exists in the imagination. When creators get to work, the final product hardly resembles the original idea. Yet, when it’s done, they look at their creation–however deviant, malformed, and bizarre–and think, “I like it.” Creative projects are uniquely special because they are our own imperfect but personal creation.
So here’s the module four assignment: create a creativity permission slip. Time to figure out what creative project you will give yourself permission to pursue and how you will share it with the world. Consider this a pubic commitment to pursue your creative goals.
“Creativity is a combination of discipline and childlike spirit.” ― Robert Greene
Create a creativity permission slip for yourself.
Describe who you are, what kind of creator you want to be, and why you want to pursue this work. This can take whatever form you’d like: typed, handwritten, cut out of magazine, 3D printed, embezzled–get creative! Take a picture to include in your creativity notebook.
Who am I?
I am a writer, tinkerer, and creator with my own unique perspective on the world and an unwavering enthusiasm for life’s simple pleasure and random adventures.
What kind of creator do I want to be?
I want to be the kind of creator who courageously delves into whichever new medium catches my interest. I want to be the kind of creative who is more concerned with the process than the final product.
I want to write informative content that resonates with people on both an emotional and an intellectual level, thereby encouraging them to make lasting, positive changes in their lives. I eventually want to apply these same ideals in teaching yoga classes, helping people simultaneously stretch their bodies and minds.
I also want to regularly sew, sketch, sculpt, and woodwork just for my own pleasure!
Why do I want to pursue this work?
Much of my life is filled with drudgery and monotony; since my day job does nothing to satisfy my creative itch, I need to utilize my free time to pursue the creative hobbies that bring me joy and satisfaction.
I want to continuously exercise a childlike sense of wonder when taking in the world around me, and find ways to translate my interpretation of the world into some form of art.