This blog has a pretty simple premise: People are often afraid of the creativity of others. Not infrequently, we’re also afraid of our own, by the way. Why? Because we aren’t the originators of the energy behind that creativity. The universe or God is. And being the conduit for inexplicable, immeasurable creative energy can be anxiety-provoking. We can fear being obliterated by the sheer force of it.
This is the same reason that adults often advise truly gifted children that their creative interests might make for fun hobbies, but aren’t necessarily a proper way to spend a whole lot of their time. I think the adults feel their kids could be lost to those interests—absorbed by them.
I have helped hundreds of men and women who listened to adults when they were children and all-but-forgot very deep interests they had in painting, music, writing and many other forms of self-expression. Coaxed to share with me any beloved hobby they had as kids, it’s not at all unusual for them to mention an art form and then recall someone who advised them that they needed to be less obsessed with it—that being well-rounded was the key to a happy life.
How about you? Did you have a passion as a child, adolescent or young adult that you shelved because someone told you it was taking up too much of your time, or that it was an unlikely way to make a living, or that you could use a part of it in service to a “real” career?
One of my clients was a very successful and very unhappy lawyer who recalled drawing houses and buildings as a junior high school student and loving it. She was actually disciplined by more than one teacher for drawing during math and science classes. And she forgot all about it, until we discussed interests she had left behind early in life. Once she remembered it, though, she couldn’t quite get it out of her mind. She took an architecture course at a local college and then decided to take the huge and life-affirming leap to get a degree in it. Today, she no longer practices law, instead designing and building magnificent homes.
Another client of mine—a car dealer—loved music as a boy. He played more than one musical instrument. But something about his love for music seemed to threaten his parents. Maybe, he wondered in adulthood, his parents were worried he loved the music more than he loved them. They set rigid standards for his grades and, when he couldn’t meet those standards, they punished him by taking away his time to play music—his “hobby.”
My client didn’t stop working as a car dealer. But he did rekindle his love for music by buying a guitar, taking guitar lessons and starting a band. Summoning the memory of a deep interest of his from long ago that was resisted by others turned out to be a key to his creativity as an adult.
How about you? Did someone talk you out of a creative passion when you were young? If so, that may be a good hint that it’s worth revisiting. Because it may well have been a genuine love of yours—and, therefore, a little scary (or more than a little scary) to those around you.
Keith Ablow, MD
(Note: Some details of clients have been changed to preserve their anonymity.)