Unveiling Your Creative Superpowers: Backstory, Part 1 by Sarah Bryan

Welcome to May, everyone! It’s a new month, and we’re kicking off something fun here on the blog. Emily and I have been working for a while now to develop a new way of describing the life experience of the creative person. We believe that everyone goes through a similar series of experiences as they learn to recognize and use their creativity -- like a common storyline that we all live through. This common storyline looks much like the narrative arc used in superhero stories. Most every superhero, from Superman to Professor X, goes through similar developmental stages as they discover, explore, and utilize their unique powers. Since we believe that every person is endowed with a unique creative expression -- or superpower -- it seems only natural to learn from the superhero stories that we all know. Each month through the end of the year, we’ll explore a stage in the superhero process and how that relates to our creative experiences. Let’s get started!

The first stage in the superhero process is the Backstory. For both heroes and humans alike, this often starts in childhood, and includes pivotal experiences that will shape their future personal identities. This could be when Superman is sent to Earth to escape the destruction of his home planet, Krypton. Or it could be the death of Spiderman’s parents, and his childhood with Uncle Ben and Aunt May. Though the superhero backstories are often heavy on trauma, it’s not all about the pain. Superman may have had to flee his home world, but he gained supportive, safe home life in Jonathan and Martha Kent. Just like us, heroes lives are woven in threads of dark and light moments.

Backstory encompasses more than just childhood experiences, though. Backstories are also the place where our heroes’ birthrights are established. Only a few heroes could count money as their inheritance, but almost all inherited something special from their family or ancestral heritage. They may have received their super powers through family bloodlines, but they may also have inherited ideals and viewpoints that inform how they interact with the world. It’s these more subtle inheritances that will guide their choices as their powers become more apparent. Superman’s Kryptonian DNA is the source of his powers, and his upbringing with the Kents developed a strong sense of honor and duty. The two together are vital to his development in the hero we know and love.

The same is true for our creative backstories. Our lives may be filled with creative traumas or triumphs, but it’s the subtle and not so subtle inheritances from our families that really shape the people we will become. We may inherit creative talents from relatives, but we also inherit mindsets and attitudes about creativity that will shape how we use those talents. Our identities are first imprinted by those we’re close to, and those imprints will work themselves out in our approaches to both life and creativity.

For those with difficult backstories, the idea of these inevitable inheritances may seem demoralizing. How can we hope to overcome the negative creative mindsets and attitudes handed down from one generation to the next? There is hope, however! Our hope lies in the realization that, while we can’t pick the natural families we’re born to, we have an ultimate Papa who is the summation of all things creative and brilliant. We are each unique creations of the ultimate Creator - His creative brainchildren, if you like. He is our creative parent, and, just as children inherit from their parents, we inherit from Him. We each have a creative inheritance from God: a birthright of genius-level creative brilliance that has been specially crafted for each of us.

The best part of all is that this birthright can never be lost or taken away from us, regardless of what our lives look like. The circumstances don't change the truth of the superhero’s heritage, and they don’t change the truth of our creative heritage. Superman was still Kalel, the Kryptonian son of Jorel, even though he went by Clark and lived in Kansas. The birthright was true in his heart, even when his life didn't reflect the reality of it. It was the burning truth of the unrealized birthright that caused the him to sense a difference between himself and those around him, just as your birthright causes you to yearn for creativity in spite of your circumstances.

No matter your backstory experiences, be they positive or negative, the ultimate truth of your life is that you were made for creativity. It’s your inheritance from the Creator Himself, the brilliant superpower that you were made to carry. It’s your gift to explore, to develop, and to use to change the world.

Sarah is the co-founder of Bright Ideas, a designer by trade, and an artist by passionate choice. She was born and raised in South, and delights in sharing Southern culture with anyone who cares to learn. Sarah collects creative hobbies; when she isn’t making art, you can usually find her on the dance floor. Follow her creative adventures on Instagram and Twitter!